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TEXAS LONGHORNS (2-2) at IOWA STATE CYCLONES (1-2)
Texas will attempt to go 2-0 in conference play and turn its season around Thursday night when it visits an Iowa State team trying to make its mark in the Big 12.
The Longhorns were a disappointment in 2012, as head coach Mack Brown led them to a 9-4 overall record with a 5-4 record during conference play. The team has not improved too much so far in 2013, going 2-2 in their first four games with losses coming from two non-conference teams (at BYU, Ole Miss at home). The Cyclones have been a team looking to find its identity over the past few years, attempting to have its first winning season since going 7-6 and finishing fourth in the Big 12 in 2009. ISU should have some momentum going into this game coming off a 38-21 win at Tulsa, its first victory of the season. Since 1992, these two teams have played each other a total of nine times with the Longhorns coming out on top in eight contests, including the past two meetings. Texas has not done as well covering the spread in these meetings with a 5-4 ATS mark. In Iowa, the Longhorns are undefeated with a 4-0 SU record (3-1 ATS). Texas starting QB David Ash is doubtful for this game after suffering his second head injury of the year against Kansas State before last week's bye. His dual-threat play will be missed if they are forced to turn to senior Case McCoy under center if Ash is declared out. Iowa State will counter them with a solid passing offense (50th nationally) led by Sam Richardson, who is probable despite a nagging ankle injury. Texas has gone 17-8 SU over their past 25 games and this is a must-win for the Longhorns if they hope to have the type of season expected of them and compete for the Big 12 championship. Iowa State is 1-4 both straight up and ATS in their last five games and will need a solid performance from all of their players to keep this game close.
Texas was expected to come into the 2013 season and compete for the Big 12 championship, but recent performances have put both the team and Mack Brown on the hot seat. QB David Ash (760 passing yards, 7 TD) is doubtful for the Thursday night game against Iowa State after missing the second half of his last game with a head injury. He was replaced by senior QB Case McCoy who has been a decent fill-in for Ash over the season. McCoy has one start on the year, which came in a 44-23 loss at home against Ole Miss, when the senior completed 24-of-36 passes (67percent) for 196 yards and a touchdown. McCoy has completed 64percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions overall in his four years at Texas. Complementing McCoy on offense will be RB Jonathan Gray, who on the year has rushed the ball 66 times for 350 yards (5.3 YPC) and three touchdowns. Gray is coming off a huge game against Kansas State where he carried the ball 28 times for 141 yards (5.0 YPC) and two touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, look for top DE prospect Jackson Jeffcoat and CB Carrington Byndom to try and improve the Longhorns' mediocre 28.0 PPG allowed, which ranks 78th overall in the nation. Texas will need to keep using both the run (36th in nation) and pass (37th in nation) to go 2-0 in the Big 12.
Iowa State has struggled for years in the tough Big 12 conference, but has a group of young players that look to turn around the fortune of the program. QB Sam Richardson is one of these young players and has put together a solid season so far. In three games, Richardson has completed 62.5percent of his passes for 757 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He has been relied on heavily as a sophomore, averaging just over 37 pass attempts per game with multiple touchdowns in each contest. One of the top players receiving these passes has been WR Quenton Bundrage, another sophomore. He has 13 receptions for 186 yards and three touchdowns on the season. The Cyclones will look towards RB Aaron Wimberly to continue his great play from last week against Tulsa (137 rushing yards) and revive their 92nd-ranked rushing attack (135 YPG). Veteran leadership from LB Jeremiah George (27 tackles) will be needed to help Iowa State's 66th-ranked defense (25.3 PPG allowed) to slow down Texas.