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Texas vs. Iowa State score, takeaways: Nr. 13 cyclones inches closer to the Big 12 title playground with victory



Nr. 13 Iowa State is a game away from playing in the Big 12 Championship Game. It would be a massive achievement for a program that has not won a conference title since 1912. Cyclones needed a late score from star-studded Breece Hall and a missed field goal from No. 17 Texas to hold on in 23-20. wind on Friday. Playing from behind in pretty much the entire game, Iowa State fitted a five-play, 69-yard drive with three minutes left and scored a necessary touchdown when the fate of his season was on the field.

But Texas still had time – and it had quarterback Sam Ehlinger. The senior, who had been effective throughout the game, got the horns to the Iowa State 36-yard line with 1

0 seconds left. But then Ehlinger took a brutally bad sack in the hands of Cyclones defensive lineman Latrell Bankston for a 4-yard loss. It forced Texas to take its final timeout to set up Cameron Dicker for a 58-yard field goal just inches wide to the left.

Texas and Iowa State both had a lot to play for in terms of a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game, and the result ended up being an evenly matched game. Texas had a lot of success offensively going over the top to receiver Brennan Eagles, who had five catches for a career-high 142 yards. Ehlinger was the complementary piece in the running game with 65 yards on the ground and a touchdown – a combination that Iowa State had a hard time stopping the entire game.

But the cyclones could also move the ball. Quarterback Brock Purdy had 312 yards through the air, favoring his tight ends Charlie Kolar (six catches, 131 yards) and Dylan Soehner (five catches, 69 yards). Kolar was particularly effective in the second half of the vertical game. And while Hall did not have the most dominant day – he was kept under 100 yards for the first time this season – he still had the clear signal and some important runs on the crucial drive.

Bankston was the defensive MVP for the Cyclones as he contributed to some important negative games and kept the line during a game where the Iowa State three-man front was asked to make a lot of the heavy lifts to get to the backfield. It didn’t always work, but the cyclones made another game when it came.

With the win, Iowa State remains stable with a 7-1 record in Big 12 play and meets West Virginia at home on December 5 in the final game of the regular season. Texas, who fall to 5-3 and 4-3 in the conference, need a lot of help to stay in the conference title game race.

Here’s what we learned from Friday’s game.

Disappointing senior day for Ehlinger

It would not have been surprising if Ehlinger – he was it lifelong Texas Longhorns fan – had one last hero game in him on senior day. Ehlinger mostly played his ass with 363 yards total offense and two touchdowns. He was generally on the spot with his downfield passes and a threat that drove the ball, especially on scrambles. The connection he and the Eagles had was unstoppable and it was nowhere near a big enough part of the 4th quarter game schedule. Ehlinger played well enough to win, period.

But there were two cases that stand out where Iowa State found an answer to Ehlinger. The first was the aforementioned sack with 10 seconds left to make Dickers field goal even harder. The second was a fourth-and-2 from the Iowa State 13-yard line with eight minutes left of the game. Ehlinger kept the ball on reading and was stopped shortly after first down the marker. At 230 pounds, Ehlinger is not easy to bring down, but the cyclones found a way. While taking a shotgun at such a short down-and-distance that drives some people up a wall, you should like your odds when Ehlinger is the one carrying the ball. Iowa State made a piece.

In that sense, Texas will kick itself for lost opportunities to put the game away. Horns’ last four possessions had three turnovers and one point. How to keep the state of Iowa around.

Iowa State’s tight ends came through

Bread and butter for cyclones this year has been a good defensive game and feeds Hall in the running game. But Texas got Iowa State out of script early. Cyclones came into a 10-0 hole and were not good in the red zone. The first three trips inside the Texas 20-yard line produced nine points, and a second trip within the 25-yard line just before half ended in a missed field goal. It’s not typical to win football for Matt Campbell’s team.

So credit some adjustments in the second half that put more emphasis on the narrow ends of the passing game. Kolar and Soehner were game changers even though they did not score any touchdowns. They gave Purdy security deals and were inconsistent with Texas defense. Iowa State has not been overly dependent on passports this year, but they were today. Purdy, who has now put together strong back-to-back performances, was good at throwing and running. He may be playing his best football at the right time. The tight ends certainly did today.

A story about two coaches

Iowa State’s victory means two things will happen. The first is that Campbell’s name will continue to shine brighter as the coaching carousel begins to turn more. Iowa State fans roll their eyes a lot on social media by simply mentioning that Campbell is potentially leaving another job – which, for the record, does not say whether he wants to or not – but it’s a story that comes with the territory. Campbell has done a great job at Ames and if he is a hot item, it’s a good problem to have.

For Tom Herman, the loss will only promote the hot seat talk. Keep in mind that Herman made staff changes in the offseason – a move that typically serves as a final line of defense. It’s year 4, and in all likelihood, Herman will have a Big 12 title game appearance to show for his time in Austin.

Herman actually made some daring calls against Iowa State. The fake punt did not work, but it was not necessarily a bad call. An Iowa defender made the key. Otherwise, it was a first down. And the decision to go after it on the fourth down with Ehlinger was also the right one, they just did not play the game. But so many times, these are the types of calls that are considered either geniuses when they work, and awful when they do not.

The remarkable thing about Texas’ situation is that Herman was the guy in the coaching cycle four years ago. He had ties to the program and the Big 12, coached under Urban Meyer and built a high ceiling for a good Group of Five program. He ticked off all the things Texas should have in anyone. For some reason it has not worked. Maybe Texas is taking a step, maybe not, but there is no denying Herman’s time in Austin has been a disappointment.




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