There is hope in Austin! After Texas took down then-No. 16 Kansas State on Saturday with another Cameron Dicker game-winning field goal, it has another chance to turn this season into a success. In addition to becoming bowl eligible and guaranteeing the opportunity to earn a winning season, the team also kept its hopes alive for a possible return to the Big 12 Championship Game. Should Baylor lose to Oklahoma next week and Texas wins out, the team will go to Arlington in search of revenge against the Sooners. The first step toward making that dream a reality is taking care of business in Ames, Iowa, against the Cyclones.
Here’s how the game against Iowa State could go:
Texas wins if …
… it can stop Brock Purdy.
After being named the Big 12 True Freshman of the Year by ESPN in 2018, sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy has performed well in his second year behind center. In Iowa State’s near-upset of the Sooners in Norman, Oklahoma, Purdy threw for a whopping five touchdowns against no interceptions. The now-healthy Texas defense did an excellent job of slowing down Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson last week, which allowed the offense to do just enough to escape with a win. If Texas can do similar work with Purdy, they should be able to head into the next week’s game against Baylor with a shot at a Big 12 Championship berth.
… Keaontay Ingram continues to be fed.
After the first quarter of the season, it looked like freshman running back Roschon Johnson was the most consistent rusher on the roster. Ingram has spent the last three games reversing that narrative. Since the loss to Oklahoma, the sophomore running back has run for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, averaging over 6.5 yards per carry. Ingram has allowed the passing attack to open up and has forced opposing defenses to respect the run, making play action a more lethal threat. There is no reason to think his production will decrease against an Iowa State team that allowed over 225 yards rushing against the Sooners. If Ingram can continue to consistently produce on the ground, the offense should have no trouble moving the football Saturday.
Texas loses if …
… the secondary regresses after getting starters back.
The return of sophomore safety Caden Sterns gave a boost to the Texas secondary against Kansas State. Sophomore defensive back DeMarvion Overshown is also expected to be back in action against the Cyclones. While the return of this talent to the secondary helped the team limit Kansas State, a regression to how the team had been playing in the weeks prior would be disastrous. If the secondary makes Purdy’s job easier than it needs to be, the Cyclones could score very quickly, resulting in a lead that the Longhorns may not be able to overcome.
… the team can’t handle expectations.
In head coach Tom Herman’s tenure, Texas has exceeded expectations when doubted and underperformed when expectations are high. Texas was the underdog against LSU, and it showed up for that game. It also showed up against Kansas State after falling out of the rankings for the first time in 2019. When the Longhorns were expected to do well, such as in games against Kansas and TCU, they failed to live up to expectations. Now that Texas has returned to the rankings and has a clear path to the Big 12 Championship, the rest of the season depends on how the team handles the pressure.