Big 12 Sports Articles

Heisman, Horns, Herman: Keys to Texas vs. Iowa State

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Texas

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s a national pastime to sit around the table with family and stuff our faces with to much turkey and all the sides before rolling to the living room to watch football and take naps wherever we sit.

2020 may have changed that ritual for some of us, and that just seems to be the year in a nutshell doesn’t it?

Yet, the day after Thanksgiving has long been touted as the more capitalist venture to the holiday season in Black Friday. Back when I was a kid, it was a much different kind of feel than it is today with the rise of the internet.

When I was younger I remember my Mom and Aunts preparing for the one day sales the way a military general prepares for an amphibious assault on some enemy beach.

Flashlights, Fanny packs stuffed with everything from coupons to calculators and snacks.

To head out at 0300 to your favorite store and wait in the freezing cold, eying and jockeying with other craze-fueled people for the doors to finally burst open – then it was chaos at a level that would make a looter blush.

This game on Friday between Iowa State and Texas has that same anticipation for many of fans on both sides.

 

Breece Hall Dominance

This game is loaded with intrigue and recent history that leaves both fan bases uneasy and confident at the same time.

The first interesting stat behind this game is how well Breece Hall, (now receiving national Heisman votes), has been virtually unstoppable in his role at running back.

He leads all of college football in total yards, and ranks in every other notable category for a running back in the top 15 nationally.

He is a man on a mission.

Teams have schemed to stop him. Loading the box, spying him with a linebacker at certain times, and yet Breece Hall always seems to get his 130 yards and two touchdowns regardless. Yet, Texas has been nearly un-moveable this year on run defense. The Longhorns tout one of the best run defenses in the Big 12 this season. Their defensive line is big and quick, and expect to see most of those dudes in the NFL some Sunday in the future.

Coaching Match Up

So what will give this Friday? I imagine it will come down to scheming and play calling from the coordinators. Who will do a better job at anticipating the other side’s game plan? More importantly, who flinches first and throws the game plan in the garbage can and goes rouge?

It’s more likely to be Tom Herman, who some believe is coaching for his job.

There have been many Longhorn fans and pundits who have talked on this subject. Most believe that Tom Herman is underperforming with the talent that sits on the head coach’s roster.

They don’t like losing OU. But that isn’t new. More importantly they hate losing to teams they should beat (i.e. Gary Patterson and TCU).

I get it. I’m not judging any fan after years of seeing the talent and opportunity the Longhorns have each year only to turn mediocre by end of season.

Is it Tom Herman’s fault? Some say it may be, some believe it isn’t. But one thing we all know and that is Tom Herman coaches his best when the pressure is highest (see Oklahoma State this season) and the volume is at 11.

He has a possum-like quality about him that you can only admire. If you think Tom Herman is dead, he will roll over and beat a team he shouldn’t. And as an Iowa State fan, this alone scares the crap out of me!

That being said, the Cyclones are a well-rounded team that seems to be peaking in middle November instead of the early October like we are used to seeing in the Matt Campbell era.

On paper, they should be a three-point favorite against this Texas Longhorns team. If the game was in Ames, I’d say they would be closer to a touchdown favorite. But the game isn’t in Ames, it’s in Austin which brings me to my final point: If Iowa State wants to make a conference championship there will be no clever or backdoor way to do so.

They have beaten Oklahoma, and now they must line up, in Austin, and prove they belong at the number one spot in the conference.

 

Will History Repeat?

They haven’t played particularly well at Texas over the past few years. They have never played well in big games with implications riding on it either.

Coach Matt Campbell and his squad will need to do what the previous 108 years (since their last conference title) tells them they couldn’t. They need to win a big game, against a good team, on the road.

Is Coach Tom Herman playing possum? Can Breece Hall do what he has done all year and make defenses look silly, or will Texas give him his first sub-100 yard game?

Much like that Black Friday feeling, there will be fans on both sides getting ready early to witness what will happen at 11 AM on Friday.

Look to see if Breece Hall is breaking tackles. Look to see if Brock Purdy is accurate and maintains his swagger from last weekend against K-State. Likewise, will the Texas defense turn Iowa State one dimensional and away from their game plan too quickly?

Does the three weeks rest help or hurt Texas from the start of the game? Will it take them a quarter or two to shake off rust and by then it’s too late?

This IS the play-in game for the Big 12 title game (likely) against Oklahoma in December. Which team is ready to prove they belong there?

Which team shows up from Ames?

Is that possum just playing dead?

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