One of the two key battles in Week 13 that will affect the Big 12 Championship Game kicks off first thing Friday. No. 13 Iowa State, coming off a resounding 45-0 win over Kansas State, turns right around to travel to Austin, Texas, and play No. 17 Texas. It’s a key game for both sides as the Cyclones and Longhorns are still looking to bounce back from early season losses.

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Though Texas has won its last three games, it still finds itself 1.5 games back from the Cyclones in the conference standings. Easily, this is the toughest remaining game for the Longhorns, so there’s a boom-or-bust feel to the outcome. A loss would greatly diminish the Longhorns’ chances of making it to Arlington. As such, it could reignite the chatter surrounding Tom Herman’s future.

On the other side, the Cyclones find themselves in the driver’s seat. Two games are all that separate this team from a chance to win its first Big 12 title. At the very least, it would be the program’s first Big 12 Championship Game appearance. There’s a lot on the line and even though Iowa State is ranked slightly higher coming into the game, it finds itself as a slight underdog.

The Longhorns have dominated this series historically with a 14-3 record. However, the Cyclones got the win in 2019 at home 23-21 for their first win since 2015. Will history continue to repeat itself or will Iowa State inch closer to a spot in the Big 12 title game? Let’s take a closer look at the matchup on Friday before making some expert picks both straight up and against the spread.
Storylines

Texas: Every week is an adventure with this team, so it’s imperative the Horns play their best game of the year. There are signs that’s possible. The running game, which was ineffective for the first half of the year, has started to gel a bit with Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson. There’s still not a true No. 1 back — Robinson, Johnson and Keaontay Ingram all have just over 50 carries — but each has taken their turn having the hot hand. It feels like Robinson is about to have a breakout game after racking up 100 yards against West Virginia. He’s a player to watch.

Iowa State: Quarterback Brock Purdy had his best passing game of the season against Kansas State, but the Cyclones’ bread and butter is a heavy dose of running back Breece Hall and good defense. Hall is having an All-American season and could get some late Heisman push. The defense is the best in the Big 12 against the run and is second in points per drive allowed behind West Virginia. Unless the passing game has an unexpectedly big game, Iowa State will try to wear down Texas.
Viewing information

Date: Friday, Nov. 27 | Time: Noon ET
Location: DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium — Austin, Texas
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Texas vs. Iowa State prediction, picks

Every week is a clean slate, especially in 2020. Still, it’s hard not to notice what the Cyclones did to K-State, however limited the Wildcats may be at the moment. Even though Iowa State is a slight underdog, it feels like it’s the better team at the moment. But neither team should have any problems bringing its own juice for a game with tons of meaning for both sides. If Texas can force Iowa State out of its comfort zone and to play from behind, it can win this. But knocking Iowa State off its center has been difficult. Pick: Iowa State +1.5

Who’s Playing

No. 13 Iowa State @ No. 17 Texas

Current Records: Iowa State 6-2; Texas 5-2
What to Know

The Texas Longhorns should come into this matchup well-rested after a week off from action. Texas and the Iowa State Cyclones will face off in a Big 12 battle at noon ET Friday at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium/Jamail Field. The Longhorns strut in flaunting some offensive muscle with an average of 40.43 points per game.

Texas didn’t have too much breathing room in their game with the West Virginia Mountaineers three weeks ago, but they still walked away with a 17-13 victory. Texas’ success was spearheaded by the efforts of RB Bijan Robinson, who picked up 113 yards on the ground on 12 carries, and QB Sam Ehlinger, who passed for two TDs and 184 yards on 31 attempts in addition to picking up 39 yards on the ground. This was the first time Robinson has racked up 100+ rushing yards all year.

Meanwhile, Iowa State kept a clean sheet against the Kansas State Wildcats last week and took the contest 45 to nothing. That looming 45-point mark stands out as the most commanding margin for Iowa State yet this season. They relied on the efforts of QB Brock Purdy, who passed for three TDs and 236 yards on 20 attempts in addition to picking up 59 yards on the ground, and RB Breece Hall, who rushed for two TDs and 135 yards on 15 carries.

This next matchup is expected to be close, with the Longhorns going off at just a 0.5-point favorite. But bettors beware: they are only 1-3-1 against the spread when favored.

Texas is now 5-2 while the Cyclones sit at 6-2. A pair of defensive stats to keep an eye on: Texas is stumbling into the matchup with the 17th most passing yards allowed per game in the nation, having given up 283.1 on average. To make matters even worse for the Longhorns, Iowa State ranks 15th in the nation when it comes to rushing yards allowed per game, with only 104 on average.

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