When you think Big 12 football, you probably use words like exciting, high-scoring, offensive and fun. Texas and Iowa State played a game Thursday night that was purported to be their conference opener in the same league, but could not use any of those adjectives to describe the action on the field.
Instead, the two teams combined for a slugfest that was filled with far more defensive highlights than big plays on offense as the Longhorns managed to capture their first Big 12 victory of the year 17-7. The ugly wins still count, of course, but it’s probably not the kind of triumphant return to conference play that former Cyclones assistant turned UT head coach Tom Herman wanted in Ames after a bye week.
Longhorns running back Chris Warren III scored the first points for the Burnt Orange at Jack Trice Stadium in nearly four years when he burst into the end zone on the team’s opening drive of the game and finished with 44 yards on a night where it was difficult for both teams to run the ball. The team’s other touchdown was set up by a turnover before quarterback Shane Buechele found Toneil Carter over the middle for a 22-yard strike that proved to be decisive. Kicker Joshua Rowland later booted a 49-yard field goal in the fourth quarter for good measure.
Buechele, who started for the first time since being injured back in Week 2, finished the night with 171 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
While his numbers weren’t great, at least they were a lot better than his counterpart Jacob Park. The Cyclones signal-caller was picked off three times by a feisty Texas defense and had a whopping 48 attempts but just 246 yards and a touchdown to balance it out (he was also sacked four times). While the home team was behind all game long, curiously young tailback David Montgomery managed only nine carries for 34 yards on the night.
At least Matt Campbell’s newly designed Cyclones helmets were slick.
But Texas will certainly take it after their struggles on the road in conference play the past few years. The Longhorns offense hasn’t quite taken off like many thought it would with Herman in charge but it certainly appears the defense is already one of the best in the league and will poise a big challenge for Kansas State next weekend.