Texas wasn’t expecting Iowa State to lie down. The Cyclones entered the matchup at 2-5, but head coach Charlie Strong and the Longhorns knew they’d come to play.
“I told [the team] it's going to be a dogfight,” Strong said Monday. “It's a homecoming for them. Expect their best. You're going to get their best. We're going to have to play at our best to really beat their team.”
It turned out that the Longhorns were the ones who failed to show up. Texas lost to the Cyclones in Ames, Iowa, for the first time in school history in a 24-0 shutout Saturday.
“It’s definitely a tough loss,” senior cornerback Duke Thomas said. “Coming into this game, knowing it was their homecoming, we had to play with pride. We didn’t make that happen.”
The Longhorns’ dysfunctional offense plagued the team throughout the contest. The unit converted just 15 percent of its third down attempts and went three-and-out on seven different occasions. Texas totaled 204 total yards, while the Cyclones had 238 rushing yards alone.
“We have to be a better prepared team and a better focused team on the road,” Strong said. “On offense. … I think we went 2-of-13 on third down. We just have to play better. We thought we were taking steps forward. This was a step back.”
Texas fell behind early when Iowa State punched in a 3-yard rushing touchdown on the team’s second drive. The Longhorns offense failed to respond going three-and-out on two of its first three drives.
Both teams failed to sustain drives in the second quarter until the Cyclones put together a 16-play, 46-yard drive in the quarter’s final minutes. The long drive netted a 28-yard field goal to put Iowa State up 10-0 at the half.
The second half brought more of the same for Texas’ offense. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard struggled to find open receivers and failed to find yards on the ground. He finished with just 39 total yards on the day.
“We can get in sync, but there were breakdowns at every position,” Strong said. “When you look at it, it is not just at the quarterback position. We have to get better all across the board.”
Iowa State extended its lead in the third quarter when redshirt sophomore quarterback Joel Lanning connected with junior receiver Dondre Daley for a 19-yard touchdown. The score came on a third down, which the Cyclones converted on 62 percent of their attempts.
“On defense, we didn’t help [the offense] at all – especially on third down,” junior safety Dylan Haines said. “So we just have to continue to play better and execute, and that just comes with preparation.”
The Cyclones sealed the win with a 1-yard touchdown run from freshman running back Joshua Thomas in the fourth quarter.
Texas’ loss comes after the Longhorns seemed to have build momentum with back-to-back wins over No. 14 Oklahoma and Kansas State. Now, it’s back to the drawing board as the team heads home to take on Kansas on Saturday.
“This is not the team that played against OU and K-State,” Haines said. “It is a one-game season, so this one is done, so we just have to prepare for Kansas next at home.”