The stage is set and the battle is real for Texas and Iowa State this evening in Ames, Iowa. Everyone on the planet knows that Texas absolutely has the talent, skills, and football grit to win this game. Longhorns fans across the nation watching the game Saturday on FS1 (starting at 6:30 p.m.) will be in for a style of football fans love.
For tonight’s fight in Ames, we take a look at five questions Texas needs to answer in order to be the victor,
1. How does Texas handle the cold weather?
Ames isn’t the most pleasant place to be in November. The place is cold and windy — and it will actually feel colder than the 59°F it is supposed to be. Sure, Austin wasn’t warm this week, but Ames is going to feel like Siberia to the Texas players and any Longhorns fans at the game. Playing in cold weather is different, so the Longhorns will need to adjust and be prepared.
2. What is Texas’ motivation for this game?
This is a big one for Steve Sarkisian. Going back on the road after a string of close losses can be tough, and the Cyclones aren’t a rival that the Longhorns will have an easy time getting up for, even though they’re a very good team. Texas’ chances to make the Big 12 championship have basically vanished, but avoiding the program’s first in-season four-game losing streak since 2010 should provide some motivation.
3. Can the Texas offense produce in the fourth quarter?
We asked this question last week, but it still applies. All three losses Texas has had against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor have come in similar fashion where the Longhorns had double-digit leads, then failed to play well on both sides of the ball in the fourth quarter. A lot of deep passes could be the key for Texas and having Bijan Robinson lineup at receiver some if it wants to come away with a win. The Texas offense needs to be better during the fourth quarter in Ames or it will take another loss.
4. Does the Texas defense have a shot to slow down the ISU running game?
Cyclones running back Breece Hall is one of the better in the country, which could spell bad news for a Longhorns defense that has been vulnerable on the edges in the running game. Hall has rushed for at least 100 yards in five of his last six games, so the Longhorns will have to somehow slow him down. Brock Purdy is a good quarterback, but you’d rather have him beat you than Hall.
5. What’s the bottom line on this game?
Texas needs to do different things offensively and defensively in the second half than it has for the past month. Iowa State is good at home — Purdy is 14-1 as a starter at home in conference games — and will have the edge of being accustomed to the weather. Texas is really close to being a very good team, but we wished it played Kansas this week to build some confidence instead of heading to Ames.
Horns Illustrated predicts: Texas WINS!