Texas football vs. Iowa State: 4 bold predictions for a tricky matchup

Quinn Ewers, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Quinn Ewers, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /
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Bijan Robinson, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Bijan Robinson, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

Looking to win its third straight game, No. 22 ranked Texas football has an opportune matchup ahead against head coach Matt Campbell and the Iowa State Cyclones at home on Oct. 15. Texas and head coach Steve Sarkisian will face what is probably the best defense in the Big 12 this season in Iowa State.

Texas comes into this game after a dominant 49-0 win over the Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Rivalry game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Oct. 8, giving them a record of 4-2 (2-1 Big 12). Meanwhile, Iowa State is sporting a record of 3-3 (0-3 Big 12) following a tough one-point loss to the No. 20 Kansas State Wildcats in Ames on Oct. 8.

Sark and the Longhorns can win three games in a row if they emerge triumphant against Iowa State this weekend. A win for Texas would also move Iowa State’s losing streak to four straight games in Big 12 play.

This game should present a real grind-it-out test for Texas as Iowa State has allowed a Big 12-best 13.7 points per game and 364.0 yards per game. But Texas also matches up really well with Iowa State on paper.

Bold predictions as Quinn Ewers, Xavier Worthy, and Texas football host Iowa State in Week 7

Here’s a look at four bold predictions as Texas gets set to host Iowa State at home in Week 7.

Xavier Hutchinson is held below 80 receiving yards for the first time this season

The best weapon, by far, on this Iowa State offense is redshirt senior star wide receiver, Xavier Hutchinson. The nation’s leading in receptions (57), and the Big 12 leader in receiving yards (604) and receiving touchdowns (five) is going to be a real threat for the Longhorns to deal with this weekend.

It’s also worth noting that Hutchinson leads the country, by a good margin, with 87 targets in the passing game on the season.

The insane amount of targets that Hutchinson gets in this offense often leads to an overreliance on him in the passing game. There aren’t many other outlets that Iowa State has to keep the offense balanced. The ground game is pretty hapless, especially without starting running back Jihrel Brock in the lineup. And outside of sophomore wide receiver Jaylin Noel, there’s not really a threatening weapon in the passing game to speak of.

This leaves Hutchinson often as the sole option for offensive coordinator Tom Manning to move the ball down the field effectively.

Iowa State is currently involving Hutchinson on 16.33 percent of offensive plays, which is the highest usage rate of any wide receiver in the FBS this season (per College Football Data).

I believe this is something that can easily come back to hurt the Cyclones against a capable secondary such as Texas’. If Texas can turn this Iowa State offense one-dimensional, and devote extra manpower to shading Hutchinson in pass coverage, that will definitely limit what they can do and make life difficult for the star wideout simultaneously.

It’s also worth noting that Hutchinson’s effectiveness has dropped for Iowa State since the start of conference play. In the last three weeks, Hutchinson ranks outside of the top 10 (No. 11 in receiving grade among Big 12 WRs) in terms of receiving grade in the Big 12 after ranking in the top three in the first three weeks of the season.

Hutchinson also had some issues dropping the ball last week that limited his effectiveness against Kansas State.

While Hutchinson is too good for Texas to completely take him out of the game, I do still think that there are ways to limit him. With the lack of an effective ground game combined with a solid cornerback duo in D’Shawn Jamison and Ryan Watts that will match up with Hutchinson this weekend, it does look like Texas could hold him under 80 receiving yards for the first time this season.

The Baylor Bears almost did that a few weeks ago when he registered 84 receiving yards on eight catches, with no touchdown catches. That game saw Baylor get plenty of pressure on quarterback Hunter Dekkers while doing a good job of keeping Hutchinson in front of them in pass coverage.

Limit what Hutchinson can do in the intermediate and deep passing game while generating pressure on Dekkers, and I could easily see them keeping Hutchinson out of triple digits. Maybe they can get that number to a season-low in receiving yards in a game with a really effective week.