With all of the news of DeLoss Dodds' retirement, James Street's passing and even more questions about Mack Brown's future, it sure doesn't feel like today is a day ripe for a football game.
Daje Johnson's return is something Texas has going for it tonight.
But, thanks to the Big 12 Conference, it is. The Texas Longhorns and Horns247 will be in Ames this evening as Texas gets one more sparring session – this one against Iowa State – before it steps in the ring with Oklahoma next weekend.
Hopefully it's just that – a sparring session – and not a contest that turns into a competitive bout.
So far this season the Horns247 staff and contributors are all sporting 3-1 records in predicting the Longhorns' outcomes. When picking the Kansas State, Blake Munroe came the closest to the actual score with a prediction of Texas winning 31-20 (the Longhorns won, 31-21).
Here's how the guys feel tonight's tilt will go.
The Iowa State defense has a tendency to take away their opponents' strength, so prepare yourself for an ugly game.
That means ISU will force Case McCoy to the air. Young guys like Kendall Sanders, Daje Johnson and Marcus Johnson will need to step up because you can bet Paul Rhodes has a plan for Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis.
On the flip side, I think Texas' defense has a chance to be stifling. I really like where Texas is going with its front four. But linebacker, without Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond for a half, now puts Texas in a position of re-doing things all over again.
Look for Iowa State to try to run a lot of play action to freeze the new LBs. In the end, I think the Horns will win. It won't be pretty but it should be a victory.
Score: Texas 19, Iowa State 17
This game scares me to death. No, seriously, it does.
I know Texas can beat Iowa State with Case McCoy at quarterback, but I'd rather not take the chance. Going to that well one too many times could result in the Longhorns falling down and unable to climb out at some point.
Iowa State is a well coached team that won't shoot itself in the foot and is efficient when it gets its chances. Think Kansas State but far less talented. The worrisome part is Texas having what's been a Texas-like performance lately where you're not sure which team is going to show up.
Daje Johnson will hopefully make something happen in this game. He needs to if Texas has any sort of hope that his ankle injury hasn't slowed him to the point where he'll be a really fast and elusive decoy in a little over a week in Dallas.
This one should be ugly. Like seeing the homely girl at the end of the bar you took home at closing time kind of ugly. That said, the players should know what it means if they lose and the Longhorns find a way to slug through this one.
Score: Texas 27, Iowa State 17
Well, I hate that David Ash's first game back is going to be Oklahoma. “Oh, you've been gone for two weeks? Here, let's throw you into maybe the most hostile environment in college football.”
That's not ideal. I don't doubt that it could be a close game through two and a half quarters.
Slow it down and beat them up. That's our strength without our dual-threat quarterback.
Score: Texas 33, Iowa State 17
This is the type of game in which Texas decides the outcome. If Texas is focused and comes out determined to beat down Iowa State, then Texas should separate from the Cyclones early in the game and never look back. If they come out flat and allow Iowa State to stay around then this game could get interesting in the second half.
Both are possibilities. Now David Ash is in Austin instead of Ames play against Iowa State, so this game worries me. We all know the restrictions that the Texas offense faces whenever Ash is not playing, and Iowa State is exactly the type of team you don't want to play when you can only attack half of the field on offense.
This is because our explosiveness and athleticism is significantly curbed when you can not deploy your best weapons all over the field. Iowa State will limit mistakes and capitalize on Texas' miscues and I think this game will be decided by the amount of times Texas turns the ball over. If Texas stays under two turnovers they win, if they turn it over two or more times then the Horns will be handing the Cyclones a golden opportunity.
I think Iowa State's running back, Aaron Wimberly, may give the Longhorns some trouble from time to time, but Iowa State's offense will not keep up with the Longhorns. Also, if Case McCoy struggles early, and Texas finds themselves down by ten or more points, I wouldn't be surprised if we see Tyrone Swoopes make his debut.
Score: Texas 26, Iowa State 20
Before the season began I would have marked this down as a win. But now, outside of Kansas maybe, I'm not real sure what to expect each week. There were positives from the Kansas State win but so many negatives before that.
The fact is, Texas still has a lot of work to do.
Cyclones quarterback Sam Richardson is effective using both his arm and feet. The Horns haven't done too well against mobile quarterbacks this season and they're going to have to be disciplined, especially with Jordan Hicks out.
It's not going to be easy, but I think Texas squeaks by Iowa State. Statistically they play very well on Thursday night games, but I feel like that comes to a halt this week.
Score: Texas 33 Iowa State 27