Nov 7, 2020; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger celebrates his 17-13 win over West Virginia at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Saturday November 7, 2020. Mandatory Credit: Jay Janner-USA TODAY NETWORK
Chris Williams, Publisher – Iowa State 27, Texas 24
A true toss-up game in my mind. The key for Iowa State is how the Cyclones perform up front. Last Saturday Iowa State was utterly dominant over Kansas State in that aspect of the football game. Another effort like that would go a long way. The time is now. Cyclones move onto the Big 12 title game.
Jared Stansbury, Managing Editor – Iowa State 31, Texas 30
Holy crap, I’m nervous. I think these teams are as evenly matched as they possibly can be. If the Cyclones play their game and don’t shoot themselves in the foot, I feel like they come out with a win. Limiting Texas’ big plays will be huge, as will stopping the Texas pass rush. Regardless of which way it goes, I see this game being a classic.
Rob Gray, Senior Writer – Iowa State 35, Texas 31
This is a very different Iowa State team than the one that went down to Austin with a trip to the Big 12 title game on the line two years ago and got flattened, 24-10. The 2018 Cyclones had frontline stars such as David Montgomery (in the second half only, because of the Baylor brawl) and Hakeem Butler, but lacked the widespread dynamism on offense to give the Longhorns much of a game. Fast forward to now. Star power is there, but it’s a moot point. The Cyclones’ program in year five under Matt Campbell and Co. has simply matured and I think is ready to meet this moment. Talent is spread everywhere and quite evenly. Trouble is, the same can be said about veteran Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger and the rest of Tom Herman’s team, too. So I’ll decide how to pick based in which team has the better defense and that’s Iowa State. One turnover either way could swing this, though. I expect it to be that close — and a classic.
Jay Jordan, Football Analyst – Texas 27, Iowa State 21
Tough game to pick because these teams have so many similarities. Get past the star ratings and you have two solid football teams with a tendency to be their own worst enemy. It comes down to line play. Who protects and creates creases. I think Texas is better in big games with high stakes. Barely.
Jeff Woody, Football Analyst – Iowa State 30, Texas 26
Everything comes down to this: pressing. Who does it more? Iowa State, for likely the first time ever, is better than Texas. Period. Texas has a lot of talent, but that talent hasn’t sharpened up like ISU’s has. However, Texas has had essentially 3 must-win games in a row (all close wins vs. Baylor, OSU, and WVU), followed by 3 weeks of sitting on their hands (due to a bye and a COVID postponement with Kansas) and watching ISU and OU rack up wins. Iowa State has placed themselves solely in the driver’s seat over the last month, but this one game could derail that. Those situations lend themselves to both teams feeling the importance of this game.
But the fun thing? No matter how much “in the driver’s seat” ISU may be, Texas still feels the pressure more. They’re still *Texas,* and in their minds, Iowa State is just some nobody who doesn’t deserve to hang around. Losing to Iowa State is still a sin in Austin. Let it be that way. We know what the Cyclones are.
So long as Sam Ehlinger has a pulse, no team is going to run away from Texas. But so long as Jon Heacock is the DC, no team will run away from Iowa State. Whoever plays more sound, fundamental, in-scheme, mistake-free football will win a close one.
‘Clones win one for the ages.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Contributor – Iowa State 35, Texas 17
As the only CF expert to accurately predict no K-State offensive points last week (look it up), I know you are all eager to see my prediction for this game. With reckless abandon, I am being dangerously optimistic and predicting Iowa State makes the biggest statement performance in program history. A large margin of victory for the good guys in this one, in a game that fans will look back on in years to come as the true “we arrived” point in Matt Campbell’s tenure. Dallas, here we come.
Kirk Haaland, Contributor – Iowa State 27, Texas 24
Texas as an institution, program, and football team can be intimidating. The money, the history, the stature… everything. This moment can be even more daunting with all of the chips in the middle of the table. Alternative scenarios exist but for the Cyclones this game represents a winner takes all pot to punch their ticket to the Big 12 Championship game. An accomplishment that seemed impossible when the Big 12 went to the ten-team round-robin format for the northernmost institution in the conference. With Matt Campbell’s arrival in 2015, none of us could have ever dreamed that this football program could be in this position. Alone at the top of the standings at the end of November with one game to clinch the league.
Is the program ready for the moment? The situation? The opponent? Despite the prestige that drapes the Longhorns, these two teams are very evenly matched or likely, the scales really tip in the favor of Iowa State. Offensively and defensively the Cyclones hold the advantage in available yards gained percentage and points per possession scoring. As usual, turnovers and special teams will be pivotal. But if Iowa State is even or at an advantage in those two areas the opportunity will be there for the taking. The trip to Austin two years ago presented a similar opportunity that the team and program were not ready to stand up to. Two years later with many of the same personnel are they now ready for the task? As Blum and Williams have been saying, we don’t want the back door entrance, we’re knocking on the front door ready for a game.