Iowa State Cyclones vs. Texas Longhorns Pick ATS
Iowa State Cyclones (6-2 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. Texas Longhorns (5-2 SU, 2-4-1 ATS)
When: Friday, November 27, Noon
Where: Campbell-Williams Field, Austin, Texas
Point Spread: IAST +2/TEX -2 (Risk Less Per Bet - Lay -105 odds instead of -110!)
Total: O/U 57
The last time Iowa State won a conference championship in football, World War I was considered to be “trouble ahead.” The Cyclones’ drought goes all the way back to 1912 when they shared a league title with Nebraska by besting Missouri and Drake. Since then, Iowa State has had a long, sad history of football, best embodied by the fact that Dan McCarney, Iowa State’s winningest coach, was 29 games under .500 during its time at the school.
But Matt Campbell has turned the Cyclones into winners over five seasons in Ames, and he’s now got his team on the doorstep of playing for the Big 12 championship. All the Cyclones need to do to guarantee that they’ll qualify for the conference title game is win its final two games against Texas and West Virginia. Should Oklahoma State lose to either Texas Tech, Baylor, or TCU, victory over West Virginia wouldn’t even be required.
However, reaching the title game requires the Cyclones to do something they’ve only done once ever — win in Austin. 2010 was the only time that the Cyclones broke through against the Longhorns, who have been a real hurdle for Iowa State in the Campbell era. Campbell is 1-3 against Texas, finally breaking through last year with a 23-21 win. But that was in Ames, and this is a Texas team that’s been waiting a while to play this game and wants to make sure its final game in Austin is a victory. Thanks to COVID cancellations, the Longhorns will play their final two games in Kansas (back-to-back road games at Kansas State and Kansas), making this the traditional Senior Day game for quarterback Sam Ehlinger and company. Can Iowa State spoil the party and start one of its own, or will the Longhorns hold serve here and extend the Cyclones’ century-plus of frustration?
How the Public is Betting the Iowa State/Texas Game
The public was impressed with Iowa State’s whitewashing of Kansas State, as 59 percent of tickets have come in on the Cyclones. However, enough money from sharps has come in to keep the line right at the opening number of -2. The total, however, has dropped from 59.5 to 57.
Wide receiver Tarique Milton is out indefinitely with an arm injury.
Tight end Jared Wiley (shoulder) and wide receiver Joshua Moore (shoulder) are probable. Wide receiver Jordan Whittington (abdominal), running back Keaontay Ingram (ankle), defensive back Jahdae Barron (illness), linebacker Juwan Mitchell (shoulder), defensive lineman Keondre Coburn (ankle), wide receiver Kelvontay Dixon (toe), and tight end Cade Brewer (chest) are questionable.
When Iowa State Has the Ball
For all the attention that Brock Purdy got before the season started, it’s been Breece Hall who’s done most of the damage for the Cyclones. It hasn’t mattered what opposing defenses have tried; nobody has been able to stop Hall on the ground. The team that came closest doesn’t even play in the Big 12, as Louisiana was able to “hold” Hall to 103 rushing yards and one touchdown, his lowest output of the season. Hall has scored in every game Iowa State has played, and no Big 12 opponent has held him under 133 rushing yards.
This game has the best chance of Hall going under that total, but it’s because of Texas’ porous pass defense. The Longhorns give up 283 yards a game through the air, which is music to Brock Purdy’s ears. Purdy has shown a tendency to make mistakes at times, such as his three-interception game in an escape against Baylor, but for the most part, he’s a solid senior quarterback who’s capable of making the big plays if the Cyclones need it. Iowa State’s preference would be to ride Hall to victory, but if Texas focuses on stopping the ground game, the Cyclones have no problem letting Purdy attack by finding wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson and tight end Charlie Kolar. No matter what Texas tries to take away, Iowa State has a way to answer.
When Texas Has the Ball
This is Sam Ehlinger’s game, and that’s just the way it is for this Texas team. The Longhorns have no real running game to speak of outside of the quarterback, so for better or worse, Texas’ fortunes are entirely tied to how well the senior plays in his final game in Austin. Historically, he’s been a bit of a mixed bag against Iowa State. As a sophomore, Ehlinger had plenty of weapons around him and was able to do just enough to give his defense a cushion that Iowa State couldn’t overcome. But in his junior year, the Cyclones invited Ehlinger to pass, knowing that they could make Texas completely one-dimensional if Ehlinger kept trying to beat them with his arm.
The strategy worked, as Ehlinger finished with 273 yards and three touchdowns but needed 40 pass attempts to do it, allowing Iowa State to get ahead and stay there. It’s too late for Texas to change who it is at this point, so the Longhorns have to make sure that Ehlinger has enough time to find his targets and deliver accurate passes. The Cyclones will likely try to keep him in the pocket, which means wide receiver Brennan Eagles will have to have a great game for Texas to have a real shot. If Joshua Moore ends up unable to play, Eagles have to be the man in this game, or Texas’ offense won’t go anywhere.
Forget what you know about the Big 12 being an offense-heavy league. It doesn’t apply when these teams get together because Iowa State and Texas tend to play tight, low-scoring games when they get together, especially in the Campbell and Herman eras. Over the past five years, the highest-scoring meeting between the teams was last year’s 23-21 victory for Iowa State. Four of the last five meetings have seen these teams go under 35 points, which fits well with Texas’ tendency to play low-scoring games in Austin. Overall, the under has hit on five consecutive matchups, and it’s cashed in six of the past seven meetings in Austin.
In 2020, Texas has struggled to play defense on the road but has played excellent defense in Austin. In four home games, Texas has given up a total of 65 points, as opposed to giving up 56 in one game when the Longhorns went to Texas Tech. Only TCU has been able to figure out the Longhorn defense in Austin, as 33 of the 65 points conceded by Texas were scored by the Horned Frogs.
Finally, Iowa State has its own November history working against it, which is one reason why the Cyclones haven’t succeeded much against Texas. The Cyclones have tended to crash down the stretch in November, as last week ended a streak of four straight games in November where Iowa State failed to cover. Things are no better against the Longhorns; even with a win last year, Iowa State failed to cover against Texas for the fourth year in a row.
This could get ugly. Afternoon thunderstorms are expected in Austin, with up to 1.75 inches of rain possible before all is said and done. Unfortunately, the conditions are likely to worsen as the game progresses, which could make for a low-scoring second half. Temperatures are expected to be in the high 60s, with the wind blowing north-northeast at seven miles per hour.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
Texas has played well at times this season, but the Longhorns’ best performance was an overtime win at Oklahoma State. That’s a solid win, but after watching the Cowboys get waxed yet again in Bedlam, I’m not so sure that win in Stillwater was as impressive as it first appeared. Conversely, Iowa State has looked better and better each week and seems to have finally become the team that it was expected to be at the start of the season.
I’ll take my free two points, but I don’t think I need it. I like Iowa State to win this one straight up. Need a boost to your bankroll? You can deposit $100 to $1000 and get a dollar for dollar matching REAL CASH bonus at BetNow Sportsbook!