Iowa State at Texas crucial to Big 12 championship race

MORGANTOWN — A crucial game transpires Saturday night in Austin, when Texas hosts Iowa State in a matchup that has major Big 12 championship game implications.
West Virginia will be paying attention. If the Mountaineers beat Oklahoma State earlier in the day, they likely will clinch a spot in the title game with a Longhorns win. The Cyclones (6-3, 5-2) are riding a five-game winning streak while Texas (7-3, 5-2) snapped a two-game losing streak with a thrilling win at Texas Tech.
Ever since Brock Purdy took over at quarterback for Iowa State, its offense has been one of the best in the Big 12. But the Cyclones will have to figure out an alternative for star running back David Montgomery, at least for the first half. He is suspended for the first two quarters have being ejected for fighting against Baylor last week.
Texas coach Tom Herman is worried about what Purdy and Montgomery can do, along with another threat on the Iowa State offense — receiver Hakeem Butler.
“I’ve known Hakeem since high school,” Herman said. “We recruited him when we were at the University of Houston. Great kid. He was raw and was a basketball guy and extremely talented. I think the thing that he has developed in his game is his physicality — much more physical when the ball is in the air and in the run game. He’s a punishing blocker out there on the perimeter.”
Butler has made highlight grabs this season and totaled 36 catches for 816 yards and eight touchdowns. He has paired well with Purdy, the freshman QB who was centric in the midseason turnaround.
“Purdy, the guy’s undefeated,” Herman said. “He’s 5-0, he’s got a ton of moxie and you can tell nothing phases that kid. It doesn’t matter the opponent, the atmosphere, the stadium — he’s got that ‘it’ factor.”
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell believes the 100,000-plus fans at Darrell K. Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium will bring out the best in Purdy. “That’s the thing that’s fun about Brock,” Campbell said, “I think that’s why you’ve seen him have some success early in his career.”
Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger is having a stellar campaign too. He has 2,483 passing yards on a 64.3 percent clip with 20 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
“His growth has been a lot of what you hope to see, even in a guy like Brock,” Campbell said of Ehlinger. “The ability to continue to play more meaningful games — quarterback is such a position of experience.”
As for who will replace Montgomery, it could be any one of Kene Nwangwu, Johnnie Lang, Sheldon Croney Jr. and Mike Warren.
“Those four running backs, those guys are really talented,” Campbell said. “I’m excited for them. I think it’s just another great opportunity for those guys.”

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