WHY TEXAS WON
Can you make it any closer? The defense, stung throughout the second and third quarters by missed tackles and big plays, held on Iowa State’s final two drives — forcing a field goal instead of a touchdown that gave Texas’ offense a final chance, then sealing the win with a turnover on the final play. Case McCoy doesn’t have David Ash’s arm, but he managed the game, avoided turnovers and had perhaps the most important 1-yard run of his career.
WHY IOWA STATE LOST
If you’re a Cyclones fan, you’re cursing the referees. Even the day after. It seemed like all the calls (and booth reviews) broke Texas’ way. Iowa State’s key offensive performers showed up, but the defense had breakdowns in the fourth quarter. And if Paul Rhoads could make that fourth-quarter decision again, he’d go for it close to the goal line rather than kick a field goal for a 6-point lead.
THE EYES OF TEXAS …
… were on three specific Cyclones — RB Aaron Wimberly, who was coming off a career-high 137-yard game; P Kirby Van Der Kamp, the lone Cyclone on the media’s preseason All-Big 12 team; and WR Quenton Bundrage, Iowa State’s leader in receiving yards and touchdown catches. How’d they do? Wimberly had 29 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown, and added a touchdown catch. Van Der Kamp had an off night, averaging 39.7 yards per kick. Bundrage scorched the Longhorns for 137 receiving yards on five catches, including the big 97-yard touchdown.
Offense: Case McCoy. Yes, Ash probably would’ve hit a wide-open Mike Davis in the endzone, or found an open Davis downfield in the fourth quarter — but McCoy played within himself, didn’t try to force passes, and his Hail Mary touchdown and winning sneak were plays of the game.
Defense: Malcom Brown. The sophomore defensive tackle had another nice night, sprinkling in a couple of sacks and a tipped pass.
THIS AND THAT
Shows/no-shows: Those who showed up — McCoy, Johnathan Gray, Joe Bergeron, Davis, John Harris, Brown, Jackson Jeffcoat. Those who didn’t — Jaxon Shipley, Malcolm Brown, Kendall Sanders, Duke Thomas, the linebackers.
Plays that mattered: Don’t forget Gray’s long touchdown run, Harris’ long touchdown catch, Cedric Reed’s and Jackson Jeffcoat’s final game-saving play, and Texas’ final drive.
Defensive issues: Despite the late defensive stops, Texas still struggled with tackles and coverages, and the linebackers had an off night. Maybe Greg Robinson needed two weeks off, not just one.
Big ‘mo?: Texas has won two in a row. In Big 12 games, no less. Feeling confident heading into OU? We’re not either.
Stars not shining: Daje Johnson returned, but had only five touches and made no impact. Davis was back too. He seemed limited, but still led Texas in catches and yards.
Gone AWOL: Oklahoma is only nine days away. Ash, Johnson and Davis will be needed — not the half-Johnson and half-Davis we got Thursday night.
UP NEXT: OKLAHOMA
Oct. 12, 11 a.m., ABC
How big is this one going to be for the Longhorns’ season? OU’s put up back-to-back blowouts in this rivalry series.
— Richard Tijerina