I alluded to talking to a couple of people that matter with some insight into the process on the Everyone Gets A Trophy Black Friday podcast on Sunday. These were folks that wanted an Iowa State win on Friday and they weren't a bit guilty about it. After the Cyclone game, I checked back in.
The Texas defense limited Breece Hall to his first sub 100 yard rushing game of the season (Hall carried 20 times for 91 yards, but went for 30 yards and a touchdown on his last three carries of the game), made WR Xavier Hutchinson irrelevant (1 catch), and limited surprise slot starter Tarique Milton to just over 5 yards per reception on 6 catches. In fact, ISU wide receivers totaled a puny 112 yards receiving on 14 catches.
Iowa State pasted Kansas State 45-0 last week, raising their record to a conference leading 6-1 (6-2 overall) with an inside track to the Big 12 title game. All they have to do is beat Texas and handle West Virginia at home to secure a guaranteed berth. In fact, they could lose one of those games and still get in. But that's unlikely.
Texas averages a deceptively impressive 40.4 points per game, but playing UTEP, participating in multiple overtimes, special teams scores, and short fields have juiced the scoreboard in ways that conceal the reality of a struggling unit. Texas averages a seemingly respectable 437 yards per game at 5.9 yards per play, but if you remove the outlier of 74 plays for 689 yards (9.2 yards a pop) against a very poor UTEP, the Horns average a more sobering 5.3 yards per play and less than 400 yards per game.
The Texas defensive performance played out about like I expected: they kept the WVU passing game in front of them (Doege completed 70% of his throws, but at only 9 yards per completion), completely took away the running game (43 rushing yards, longest run was 12), consistently won in the trenches, and held West Virginia to 13 total points on the strength of a largely mistake free red zone defense. That clutch red zone defense was in sharp contrast to what we saw in Stillwater. In fact, the entire game result relied on stiffening up near the Longhorn goal line, particularly as the Texas defensive performance transitioned from dominant to bend-but-don't-break.
Neal Brown's Mountaineers are off to a solid start, but the meat of their schedule remains, beginning this week with Texas. They're 4-2 overall and 3-2 in the Big 12 race, one game out of first place. They have notched conference wins over Baylor (in OT), against hapless Kansas, and just buried a QB deficient Kansas State, with losses coming on the road to Oklahoma State by 14 and Texas Tech by 7. The meat of their league schedule yet remains (Texas, ISU, OU) and they've been a much tougher out at home (4-0) than on the road (0-2).
13 Texas points (one TD, two field goals) were scored on drives of 15 yards, 5 yards, and -3 yards, respectively. Drives that began on the OSU 15, 8, and 20 yard lines. Without those short fields afforded by the defense plus a special teams touchdown from D'Shawn Jamison, there's no chance Texas wins this game, much less keeps the loss under double digits.