AMES, Iowa – No. 23 Texas is still very much in the hunt for a return trip to the Big 12 Championship Game as it enters the final quarter of its regular season. That stretch begins Saturday afternoon as the Longhorns visit Iowa State.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1. LINE: Iowa State - 7
Baylor (6-0) and Oklahoma (5-1) currently hold down the top two spots in the conference, and they square off Saturday night in Waco. Texas (4-2), which lost to Oklahoma earlier in the season, will visit Baylor the following week as the trio jockey for a top-two regular season finish and spots in the Dec. 7 conference title game in Arlington, Texas. The Longhorns fell to the Sooners in the 2018 Big 12 Championship Game. Iowa State was in strong position to contend three weeks ago but has since suffered back-to-back narrow losses to Oklahoma State (34-27) and Oklahoma (42-41) to fall to 3-3 and into a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference.
ABOUT TEXAS (6-3, 4-2 Big 12)
The Longhorns have had to scratch and claw to get to third place, needing final-play field goals from Cameron Dicker to win two of their last three games. Senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger has directed the game-winning drives in each contest and is tied for the Big 12 lead in touchdowns passes (24) and ranks sixth nationally in total offense per game (338.0 yards). Ehlinger got a big assist from tailback Keaontay Ingram (career-best 139 rushing yards and two TDs) in last Saturday’s 27-24 win over Kansas State, while Texas’ struggling defense (seventh in the conference surrendering 30.7 points and 447.6 total yards per contest) limited the Wildcats to only three offensive points over the final three quarters.
ABOUT IOWA STATE (5-4, 3-3)
The Cyclones will have to find a way to rebound from Saturday’s heart-breaking one-point loss in Norman, Okla., as the Sooners intercepted quarterback Brock Purdy’s potential game-winning two-point conversion pass with 24 seconds remaining. Purdy, a sophomore, accounted for six TDs in the game, including five passing, and ranks fifth nationally (one spot ahead of Ehlinger) with 344.4 yards of total offense per game while accounting for 27 total TDs on the season. Senior linebacker Marcel Spears Jr. has 70 total tackles to lead a defense which ranks third in the conference in points allowed (25 per game) and fourth in total defense (359.8 yards).
1. Texas has dominated the series 14-2, including a 6-1 mark in Ames. The Longhorns have won three straight overall following last season’s 24-10 victory in Austin.
2. Iowa State’s four losses have been by a combined 11 points against teams (Iowa, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma) who all appear in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings.
3. The Cyclones rank 16th nationally in total offense with 479.2 yards per game – a mark which would shatter the program’s single-season record of 439.6, set in 1976.
PREDICTION: Iowa State 38, Texas 33