Texas and Iowa State, both unranked and coming off losses, will square off on Saturday evening in Ames, Iowa, in an attempt to find some sort of winning formula as the Big 12 Conference winds into its second half.
This game was once considered one of the marquee matchups of the season, back in August when the Longhorns and Cyclones were expected to battle Oklahoma for a conference championship.
But Texas (4-4, 2-3 Big 12) has lost three straight games and has stumbled to a break-even mark with the final third of its season to play. The most recent setback was a 31-24 loss at No. 16 Baylor last Saturday.
Casey Thompson passed for 280 yards and two scores for the Longhorns, who dropped their third straight game after having a double-digit lead in the third quarter. Texas rushed for just 102 yards, with star running back Bijan Robinson gaining only 43 yards on 17 totes.
Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said the Longhorns’ spirit has been good and that its focus is on this week’s game.
“Win this week — our emphasis every week is about the most important game: the next one,” Sarkisian said. “This is no different. We recognize big picture where we’re at. I think this group is connected. They’re sticking together, and that’s going to pay dividends for us.”
The Longhorns have not lost four consecutive games since their disastrous 2010 season in which they went 5-7 and finished last in the Big 12’s Southern Division.
Iowa State (5-3, 3-2) is not much better, especially after a 38-31 defeat at West Virginia last Saturday that dropped the then-No. 22 Cyclones out of the Top 25.
Breece Hall ran for 167 yards, including a 70-yard TD on Iowa State’s third play from scrimmage, in the loss and had a crucial fumble at the goal line in the fourth quarter. Brock Purdy passed for 185 yards and a score and ran for another TD for the Cyclones.
The Cyclones’ defense, which had allowed no more than 350 yards in its first seven games, surrendered 492 yards to West Virginia.
“We certainly lacked making plays out there,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said after the loss. “We’re doing a lot of really good things, but there’s things we’ve got to continue to improve on. They showed up again (Saturday). From an attitude, effort and investment standpoint, I’m really proud of our kids.”
Iowa State has defeated the Longhorns the past two seasons, winning 23-21 in Ames in 2019 and 23-20 last year in Austin.
–Field Level Media