Everything appeared to be smooth-sailing for the Longhorns on Thursday night as they steadied a 14-0 lead late in the third quarter at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.
But then a shanked, 17-yard punt from junior Michael Dickson allowed the Cyclones to set up shop in Texas territory, leading to Iowa State quarterback Jacob Park capitalizing with an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Matthew Eaton.
On the ensuing Texas possession, things nearly got ugly. Senior wide receiver Armanti Foreman fumbled the kickoff, but his knee was ruled down after review. A few moments later, sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele’s screen pass was batted down, and Iowa State returned it for a touchdown after officials initially ruled it a lateral. But the Longhorns were saved by review once again. Texas would punt on the drive, but its control of the game remained intact. At the final buzzer, the Longhorns still managed their way to a 17-7 victory over Iowa State.
“You could tell that was a team out there playing for each other and not playing for themselves,” head coach Tom Herman said.
The Longhorns’ defense harassed Park all night long. Texas picked off the junior quarterback three times and sacked him four times. Junior safety DeShon Elliott had two of those interceptions, giving him four on the season. Elliott followed last game’s two-interception performance, which included a pick-six against USC.
“The defensive performance was phenomenal,” Herman said. “To hold a team to 10 yards on the ground and get the turnovers and fourth-down stops that we did in their stadium is pretty impressive.”
On a third-and-nine in the first quarter, sophomore quarterback Buechele scrambled and tried to buy some time, but an Iowa State defender finally broke free and hit Buechele, who coughed up the ball. Sophomore center Zach Shackelford was able to fall on it, but Texas stared at a quick punting situation after what appeared like a three-and-out.
But the Cyclones were called for an unsportsmanlike penalty after the play, giving Texas an automatic first down and keeping its first drive of the game alive.
From there, the Longhorns got to business. Buechele completed a couple of crucial third-and-five passes, the second putting the Longhorns inside Iowa State’s red zone as sophomore wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey raced 28 yards. Junior running back Chris Warren III capped off the 12-play, 81-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run up the middle to put the Longhorns up 7–0 early.
Texas’ second touchdown came midway through the second quarter. Buechele dropped a dime, while being hit in his blind side, to freshman running back Toneil Carter, who broke behind Iowa State linebacker Joel Lanning over the middle of the field, giving Texas a 22-yard touchdown and 14-0 lead.
Iowa State would threaten in the second half, but the Cyclones couldn’t muster much offense against the Longhorns. The Cyclones were held to just 256 yards of offense on the night. Junior Josh Rowland tacked on a 49-yard field goal with 13:25 left in the fourth quarter for Texas. When the final buzzer sounded, Texas came away with its second win of the year and first win in Big 12 play.
“We’re sure as heck gonna celebrate winning, because it’s too hard to come by,” Herman said.