There are still four squads in the Big 12 with an opportunity to win the league championship, and two of them square off on Friday when the 13th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones (6-2) head to Austin to take on the 17th-ranked Texas Longhorns (5-2).
Iowa State currently sits atop the league standings, and a win over Texas means they are a home win over West Virginia away from clinching the No. 1 seed in the title game. The Longhorns are right back in the mix with a win over Iowa State.
Both teams come into this matchup riding three-game win streaks. Texas has improved on defense during its win streak while the Cyclone offense has been on fire during its win streak.
Which one gives on Friday afternoon?
BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER
Prediction: Texas 34, Iowa State 30
I predicted Oklahoma to beat rival Oklahoma State last weekend because of its improved defense, and that's ultimately the same reason I'm picking the Longhorns this weekend.
I really want to pick Iowa State. Matt Campbell is an up-and-comer, Breece Hall is fifth nationally in rushing yards (1,169, 15 TD) and quarterback Brock Purdy is coming off his best performance of the season. Purdy has thrown five picks in the last four games, however, and that is concerning.
While I'm praising the Longhorn defense, the Cyclones are also on a hot streak on that side of the ball. Iowa State gave up just 149 yards in a 45-0 over Kansas State last weekend, and it gave up just 240 yards in an Oct. 31 win at Kansas.
The reason I'm going with Texas, beyond the improved defense, is two-fold. First, it's a home game, and in a tight game I often go with the home team. Second, Sam Ehlinger. He's had two straight mediocre performances, which is why I think he's going to go off against the Cyclones.
This is going to be a great game, but Ehlinger pulls off a late fourth quarter drive to lead the Longhorns to victory. If I'm wrong, and Texas loses at home to Iowa State, the seat underneath head coach Tom Herman is going to get smoking hot.
VINCE DEDARIO, FOOTBALL ANALYST
Prediction: Texas 37, Iowa State 34
I honestly cannot remember the last time a Big 12 game actually had something that I wanted to see. Two ranked opponents getting after it at noon on Friday is enough to get my attention. I do not expect to see much defense in this game but there will be enough to keep it interesting.
Both teams are coming into the game with three game win streaks on the line. Who gets to four? Good question. Both teams have good quarterbacks but I’ll lean towards the home team in this one and I’ll take the Longhorns in what Vegas is basically calling a pick'em.
BRIAN SMITH, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Texas 41, Iowa State 38
In one of the most entertaining games of the year, the Longhorns hold off the Cyclones in what will be a thriller. Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger will throw for 305 yards and toss two touchdowns, with one each to Joshua Moore and Brennan Eagles. Ehlinger will also rush for his eighth score of the year. Speaking of the rushing attack, the Longhorns will grind out 150 yards on the ground, with freshman running back Bijan Robinson finally getting more carries and scoring his first college touchdown.
Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy will also produce big numbers, slinging the football to the tune of 280 yards and a score. Complementing Purdy's efforts, It will be the Cyclones ability to run the football with Breece Hall that does the most damage to Texas. Hall runs for 160 yards and three touchdowns, as Iowa State tries to play keep away from Ehlinger and the 'Horns.
In the end, it will not be enough as there's too much time on the clock late in the fourth quarter, and Ehlinger marches the Texas offense down the field. Texas kicker Cameron Dicker then comes up with the clutch 44-yard field goal to win it at the end of regulation.
RYAN PALMERI, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Iowa State 24, Texas 21
Iowa State finally has the team to win a conference championship. With an NFL quarterback, running back and tight end, they can keep the offense moving. Breece Hall has been one of the very best running backs in the country all year and that should continue. Texas plays to their competition, and on paper they still have the better team. ISU head coach Matt Campbell already beat Oklahoma this year. If he wants to finally break through and win a conference championship, he has to knock off Texas as well.
NATHAN ATKINS, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Texas 42, Iowa State 33
Iowa State is in first place in the Big 12 by one game with Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State on their heels for the conference title.
There's more at stake than a win here for both coaches. For Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, a win against Texas will keep his name in the running as "the next hot coach." For Texas boss Tom Herman, a loss here and he could be calling Charlie Strong and asking for recommendations on a moving company. It's the Big 12, so both teams average more than 400 yards of offense, and both score more than 30 points per game.
Tom Herman lives to fight another week.
J.P. SCOTT, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Iowa State 34, Texas 23
Iowa State sent a message to the Big 12 last week with the dominant shutout win over Kansas State. The Cyclones have their eyes on the prize, and at this point look like the most complete team their conference.
It’s a crime that ISU running back Breece Hall isn’t getting more Heisman love with the season he’s having, but he’ll have a chance to plead his case on a national stage Friday. Look for Hall to shine and the Cyclone defense to play stingy en route to a sound Iowa State win.
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