Greetings, Longhorn fans! This week brings me to you in a bittersweet mood. I am still saddened over the loss of Darrell Royal. He is an icon for the University. He presided over one of the most successful periods in the football program, and he was instrumental in the hiring of Mack Brown. His influence is felt all through the college football world, and he will be missed. Let’s remember Coach Royal this weekend as the ‘Horns take the field in the stadium very appropriately memorializing him.
Now, football! Up next for the ‘Horns: the Iowa State Cyclones. Texas is coming off a pretty heady win over Texas Tech. The team played a surprisingly complete game, showing marked improvement on both sides of the ball. It was a welcome surprise to me, and the game caused me to almost have a stress aneurysm. But in a good way! Iowa State is coming off yet another loss, this time to Oklahoma. However! It’s worth noting that ISU did not lose to Oklahoma in quite the Biblical proportions that Texas did. So, there’s that to worry about.
Let’s have a couple of fun facts about Iowa State! Their team name, the “Cyclones,” dates back to 1895. It should come as no surprise that Iowa has lots of violent weather, since they are basically a tabletop where food things grow, and the storms can just rampage on through whenever they feel like it. Actually, I’m just throwing shade. According to Wikipedia, Iowa has some rolling hills and loess deposits. And that’s a word you can go look up and give yourself another brain wrinkle, and use to impress people at cocktail parties. Moving on! In 1895, Iowa had an above-average number of cyclones, which was the old-timey name for tornadoes. In September of that year, ISU traveled to Chicago to play a highly touted Northwestern team, and beat them 36-0. The Chicago Tribune ran a headline stating, “Struck by a Cyclone: It Comes from Iowa and Devastates Evanston Town.” And thus, a team mascot was born.
Time for statistics, so you can get your bookie on the phone! ISU comes to this game with a 5-4 overall record. Texas sits at 7-2. Last time ISU came to town, they ruined Texas’s day and sent the team into a skid that they only really just recovered from. ISU is averaging 24.4 points per game to Texas’s 40.3. Here’s one to consider: ISU has allowed an average of 21.4 points, and Texas has allowed 31.6. ISU wins that one.
Texas is ranked 107th in rush defense. Guess what ISU did well last week? That’s right, they rushed the ball against Oklahoma. So much of the team’s success on Saturday will again depend on the inconsistent defense. I’m hoping Coach Brown continues to be at the wheel with the defense. By that, I mean I hope he’s threatening to put them on the wheel if they don’t start tackling properly.
In most stats, Texas is the clear favorite, even though they barely break the 30th percentile in most categories, except for points scored. In that category, Texas ranks 12th while ISU is way down at 90th.
Just like last week, so much this week depends on which Texas team shows up. Two things we have going for us: Coach Brown and David Ash. Coach Brown knows how to motivate and inspire young players. And we’ve seen David Ash’s cool and calm leadership during just about every game so far this season. With that stellar win under their belts, I hope the team can stay focused on continued improvement and adding another one to the “W” column. I can’t shake that funk from the Kansas game, though. That game is the spectre hiding in the closet waiting to jump out at you when you stumble to the bathroom at 2:00 in the morning. If Texas plays like they did against Kansas, it could be a long Saturday. Or, should I say, if the team simply forgets to show up and decides to play pinochle in the locker room instead.
ISU will come to town gunning for an upset, and hoping to salvage some of their mediocre season. The ISU quarterback is named—and I am not making this up—STEELE JANTZ. How awesome is that? His name is literally steel. He has a respectable 63% pass completion rate. Their rushing leader, Shontrelle Johnson, has 89 carries for 371 yards. Leading receiver Chris Young has 30 receptions for 326 yards. This team will come into Austin hoping for another season-spoiling win over the ‘Horns. Let’s disappoint them, Texas!
WHAT I CAN’T EVEN the game is on the Longhorn Network again. I don’t know what kind of sorcerer or mad scientist is sitting around and figuring out ways to drive me crazy but it’s working! Oh, wait, the problem is solved—there’s an app for that. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I am old, and my eyeballs don’t want to watch dancing dots moving around on my phone screen. Maybe I’ll just plug in the headphones and hope the audio will get me through.
For the rest of you lucky folks (I wanted to use another word) who get LHN, kickoff is 11:00 Central. I don’t even want to talk about those of you going to the game and seeing the ‘Horns with your live eyeballs. The grief is too overwhelming.
The bookmakers have Texas as a 10.5-point favorite with an over/under of 57. Bet wisely, children.
Win one for Uncle Darrell, boys! Hook ‘em!