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Texas vs. Iowa State prediction, pick and odds for Saturday's Big-12 game. College football expert Matt Hayes breaks down his Texas vs. Iowa State pick

Texas vs. Iowa State Prediction, Pick Against the Spread, and Latest Odds

Spread: Iowa State -6.5

Total: 60.5

Game time: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: FS1

Texas vs. Iowa State odds

Texas vs. Iowa State - Out of the tunnel

It wasn’t so long ago that Iowa State was touting 20 returning starters from last year’s Fiesta Bowl champions, and the Cyclones were talking College Football Playoff.

Now, not so much.

In fact, this season has been wildly underachieving.

Iowa State began this season with a four-year starter at quarterback, and a defense that was the best in the Big 12 by the end of 2020. Now look at the 2021 losses:

----- To an Iowa team that currently can’t string together first downs.

----- To a Baylor team, whose best win is a two-point win over the Cyclones.

----- To a West Virginia team, whose best win is a touchdown win over the Cyclones.

Three times playing as the favorite, three ugly losses.

Guess who’s the home favorite this week against Texas?

The Longhorns, meanwhile, have lost three straight and have one of the three worst defenses in the Big 12. Texas has given up 118 points during the losing streak, and have given up a whopping 758 yards rushing and 8 TDs in that span to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor.

Just how statistically bad is that rush defense? Oklahoma State, the Big 12 leader in rush defense, has given up one more yard in eight games than Texas did in those three losses.

The Cyclones are mathematically alive for the Big 12 Championship Game, but can’t lose again. Texas is trying to avoid a significant step back from Tom Herman’s final season in 2020 that got him fired.

When Texas has the ball

Scoring points hasn’t been a problem. The arrival of first-year coach Steve Sarkisian has juiced up the Texas offense, as has the play of sophomore QB Casey Thompson (20 total TDs).

The unit got better, got more dangerous, in Week 2 when Sarkisian benched freshman starter Hudson Card in the middle of a blowout loss to Arkansas. Thompson sees the field better, and makes better decisions, quicker.

It helps that Thompson is surrounded by a group of impressive skill players, including legitimate All-American candidates at tailback (Bijan Robinson) and wide receiver (Xavier Worthy). But make no mistake, this offense is efficient when it can run the ball consistently.

Texas runs the ball 60 percent of the time, and the offensive line is much better when it can get into a groove early. Texas got hot early against Oklahoma but got away from the run during the Sooners' wild comeback win.

The Longhorns combined to rush for just 240 yards in the losses to Oklahoma State and Baylor, and the offense never found its rhythm. One positive despite the problems running the ball: Texas could’ve won both games.

That’s what makes this week so critical moving forward. Iowa State has the No.2 rush defense in the Big 12 (101.8 ypg.), and last year in this game, the Texas running backs combined for 80 yards on 20 carries.

If Robinson reaches 100 yards, Texas will make this a fourth-quarter game.

When Iowa State has the ball

It’s no secret that Iowa State hasn’t reached its potential this season, in part, because senior QB Brock Purdy hasn’t elevated his game.

Worse, he was briefly benched earlier this season.

For whatever reason, Purdy peaked in 2019 and hasn’t been able to recreate that magical season. His completion percentage (73.3) is up nearly seven points this season, but he hasn’t been able to consistently drive the ball on intermediate and deep throws.

That means defenses are sitting on shorter routes, and the offense is playing in a 10- to 15-yard box. And that puts more pressure on talented TB Breece Hall.

The offense works through Hall, and his ability to find creases and break tackles. Every defense knows this, yet Hall continues to churn out big games.

Even in the loss last week, with West Virginia loading the box to stop Hall, he ran for 167 yards on 24 carries. He is going to get his touches and yards, and defenses simply try to limit big plays and scores.

Texas has struggled against the run all season, giving up 201 yards per game and a 5.2 average yards per carry. The defensive line is undersized and can be pushed around – a bad sign against the big and experienced Iowa State offensive line.

Texas vs. Iowa State - The bottom line

Iowa State is playing for scant Big 12 championship hopes, and is playing at home in Ames – with wind and cold weather in the forecast. That’s a bad sign for Texas, and the perfect setup for an Iowa State offense to grind out a win behind a power run game.

Texas vs. Iowa State Pick


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