There’s a lot at stake in Austin this weekend. Big 12 championship chances, Senior Night, and DKR’s 500th game.
1. A lot on the line this Saturday. How does No. 13 Texas topple No. 18 Iowa State?
Justin Wells – They have to play their most fundamentally sound game of the year. The offense has to keep humming, and the defense has to stay sound. The defensive backs will be tested by Brock “pump-fake” Purdy. Sam has to keep the offense rolling, and Orlando has to generate a pass rush and stop the conference’s best RB, David Montgomery.
Eric Nahlin – Beat Iowa State at their own game, which is a cleaner version of UT’s game. Limit penalties, continue protecting the ball, and stiffen up on defense. Win the battle of Red Zones. Play like the staff prepared you.
Ian Boyd – They have to take away Hakeem Butler to whatever extent they can, the cyclones aren’t a high scoring team without him. Then on offense they need Ehlinger’s best game yet as they attack ISU’s bend don’t break defense.
Joe Cook – Tackle and bring down Hakeem Butler’s 22 YPC average. Butler is one of several big play receivers in the B12. With ISU RB David Montgomery out the first half, I’m thinking the Cyclones will try to let their playmaker make plays. If Texas can make sure he doesn’t get loose for six, it will be a huge boost and likely give Texas an opportunity to gain some ground in a Montgomery-less first half. A large portion of that has to do with tackling. The backup ISU RB is a speedier guy. Get him, as well as any ball-carrier, to the ground, and it makes everything else a lot easier.
Scipio Tex – The Texas offense is going to have to get enough points on the board against the league’s best defense. That means solving ISU’s scheme, running Sam a lot, and a high level of execution in the Texas passing game.
2. Most important players on offense and defense.
Justin Wells – Collin Johnson; he has to catch back up to LJH in the scoring department. Charles Omenihu; if he can get to the QB, the Horns have a great shot
Eric Nahlin – Sam’s legs are going to need to play a big role. By Big 12 standards I don’t think this is going to be a very high scoring affair and it may come down to Ehlinger wearing them down in the run game. When Sam sees them drop 8 his first thought should be to punish them on the ground. Defensively, I’m going with, gulp, PJ Locke. I write that not knowing if he’ll be at safety or nickel. If at safety he’s going to have to provide help on Butler, if at nickel he’ll be charged with covering Butler at times. They like to roll Purdy some too, so maybe Locke gets a good opportunity to bury him. I’m picking Locke because of his opportunities, not so much my expectations of how he’ll play.
Ian Boyd – This is a big game for Caden Sterns who will probably bear the most responsibility for denying deep shots to Butler. On offense it’s Ehlinger, who will need to be well prepared for the ISU defensive shifts and blitzes.
Joe Cook – Sam Ehlinger. Not only will he have to figure out how to effectively pass against the ISU 3-8 cloud defense, no easy task, but he’ll also be called upon to make plays with his legs. ISU has a weakness in defending running quarterbacks. Ehlinger is cut from a different athletic cloth than Kyler Murray, but he should see how he was able to find holes in the ISU defense and take advantage. On defense, it’s the DL. The senior-heavy group is banged up, but they are also playing in their last home game with a lot on the line and a lot of responsibilities.
Scipio Tex – Offense: Sam Ehlinger’s legs. Defense: The Texas DL and LBs have a chance to assert themselves against a very mediocre ISU OL if the LBs can play at at even a C+ level. Doubling Hakeem Butler outside in ISU’s base 3 WR set is a given.
3. Score prediction
Justin Wells – Iowa State 34-31
Eric Nahlin – The perils of writing this after talking to sources is, well, I heard a lot of positives that you read about in the Humidor. I was set to pick Iowa State but I’m feeling the home team now. Texas 27-24.
Ian Boyd – Hager’s hair and oath combined with the home crowd in DKR inspire the Longhorns to pull out a 31-27 victory.
Joe Cook – Texas 33-27
Scipio Tex – Iowa State 28-27
4. DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium’s 500th game is today. Favorite memory
Justin Wells – Ricky’s run to history was incredible in person. So was beating Notre Dame in 2016
Eric Nahlin – Tailgating with the ‘Cosm crew by the tennis courts back in the day. There’s always another football game.
Ian Boyd – My favorite memory from within the stadium might be the 2008 game against Rice. I was in the student section in the south end zone and due to DPI penalties Rice got something like 11 or 12 goal line plays and failed to score on Muschamp’s D while we worked up into a frenzy. That’s when I knew that team was special.
Joe Cook – ND 2016 was fun as I was just out of college but still able to be among the college gameday scene and all that entails. I went to a lot of games growing up and the Chance Mock comeback against Texas Tech is still one of my favorite games.
Scipio Tex – The 1990 Texas-UH game is hard to erase from my mind. I’ve never seen a more keyed up Longhorn crowd.
5. Upset pick of the week
Justin Wells – Maryland over OSU. Do it, Canada
Eric Nahlin – Oklahoma State over West Virginia…because I want to believe. But also, yeah, it’s doable depending on what Gundy’s team has left in the tank after two brutal road losses.
Ian Boyd – Ohio State ends up on upset alert most every week. They draw Maryland this time the week before playing Michigan and I understand Maryland to be a nearly unbeatable team so I’ll pick that one. Ohio state’s D should be good for one TD on an improperly played jet sweep.
Joe Cook – This week is pretty chalky, but I saw TCU +2 at Baylor, so the Frogs seem like a good pick. UAB will give A&M a game, but I think an upset is wishful thinking.
Scipio Tex – UAB + 17.5 over Texas A&M. (Actually nothing looks that good and UAB is 9-1 right now. Why not?)