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Iowa State vs. Texas Prediction: Longhorns Look to Avoid Letdown at Home After Red River Rout

Cyclones have won three in a row over Big 12 rivals.

The Iowa State Cyclones and No. 22 Texas Longhorns look like teams heading in opposite directions.

Once again ranked in both major polls, the Longhorns are riding high after thrashing the Oklahoma Sooners 49-0 in the Red River Rivalry game last week. While Texas ran its record in Big 12 play to 2-1, ISU dropped its third consecutive conference game. The Cyclones mustered a total of nine points in a Farmaggedon slugfest versus the Kansas State Wildcats.

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 7

Despite its struggles this year, ISU does own a three-game winning streak over the Longhorns. What will it take for the Cyclones to pull off an upset and extend that run to four years?

Iowa State at No. 22 Texas

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 15 at 12 p.m. ET
TV: ABC
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Texas -16.5
Tickets: As low as $24 on SITickets.com

When Iowa State Has the Ball

Points haven't come easy in Ames, Iowa, this year. The Cyclones have played three games so far in which they have failed to break 11 points — a win over Iowa in Week 2 and losses in the last two weeks to Kansas and Kansas State. The performance versus KSU was especially moribund, with ISU gaining 276 total yards on 62 plays.

The Cyclones are getting uneven play from quarterback Hunter Dekkers, who is averaging 6.7 yards per passing attempt. That's one of the lowest rates among starting QBs in the Big 12, and his six interceptions this season don't compare favorably with the other signal-callers around the conference, either. With 57 catches for 604 yards and five touchdowns this year, wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson remains a force on the outside.

The Texas defense is hitting its stride in its second season under coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski. The unit pitched a shutout last week against a depleted Oklahoma team. If the Longhorns are vulnerable anywhere in particular, it might be in the quick passing game. Look for the Cyclones to use Hutchinson to test them on screens and short patterns.

When Texas Has the Ball

Touted freshman Quinn Ewers put UT's offense in hyper-drive last week after returning from a shoulder injury. He completed 21 of 31 pass attempts for 289 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception as the Longhorns ran up a 49-0 win. Texas' 585 yards of total offense included nearly 300 on the ground, too.

The primary challenge awaiting the Horns this week? Will McDonald IV. ISU's senior edge rusher led the Big 12 in sacks last season and has 3.5 in six games this season. Given Ewers' prior shoulder injury, head coach Steve Sarkisian may try to limit his exposure to McDonald and any unnecessary hits for the Cyclones on Saturday.

Final Analysis

The path to victory for Iowa State in this game appears narrow. Simply put, the Cyclones cannot move the ball well enough to come close to matching Texas punch-for-punch on offense. That means head coach Matt Campbell needs to draw on his creativity to manufacture scoring opportunities for his team in all three phases of the game. A big play on special teams or a defensive score could potentially help the Cyclones spring an upset.

Some of Ewers' decisions in his limited time on the field this season suggest he's still adjusting to the new level of difficulty on the college level. Giving the ball away to the ISU defense is one way to keep the visiting team in the game, so Sarkisian may try a risk-free game plan to keep his QB from working into trouble. If so, that would put Texas running backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson in position for big stat lines.

ISU's slow offensive pace and defensive preference for thwarting explosive plays may keep the score down. So long as Texas isn't busy this week celebrating its mammoth rivalry win, the Cyclones probably won't challenge the Horns on Saturday.

Prediction: Texas 28, Iowa State 13

Podcast: Complete Week 7 Preview, Predictions, and Picks Against the Spread + Latest in Coaching News 

— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is the founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.

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