Charlie Strong has Texas trending upward.
Paul Rhoads is looking to get Iowa State moving in a similar direction — and keep his job in the process.
The Longhorns (3-4, 2-2 Big 12) have won two straight, including a victory over No. 14 Oklahoma, to vault back into contention for a bowl bid ahead of Saturday’s visit to Iowa State.
Texas have given up 26 combined points in the last two games; Iowa State has allowed 156 in its last three, all losses.
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The Cyclones (2-5, 1-3) have dropped three in a row against teams currently ranked first, second and fifth in scoring offense. The losing streak has led to big changes, as offensive coordinator Mark Mangino parted ways with Rhoads just hours before sophomore Joel Lanning was named the new starting quarterback.
Texas has turned things around behind a defense that has allowed just 26 points over its last two games.
Iowa State has given up 156 points during its losing streak — though it held No. 2 Baylor to just 10 points in the second half last week.
The Cyclones are just 7-24 since the start of 2013, and athletic director Jamie Pollard indicated this week that Rhoads will need to show significant progress over the last five games to earn an eighth season.
Texas has been outscored 88-10 by Notre Dame and TCU in its only two true road games this season.
“Between Saturday and five weeks from now, we’ve got to make some hay,” Pollard told Des Moines, Iowa, radio station KXNO on Monday.
Here are some of the crucial things to consider as Texas looks for its sixth straight win in Ames:
You have to have an identity. It’s running the football. Have not lost confidence in Jerrod throwing the ball at all.
Texas coach Charlie Strong on the offense and QB Jerrod Heard
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Texas freshman Jerrod Heard has thrown for just 200 yards over his last three games. But he’s rushed for 187 yards during that span, spearheading an offense that has evolved into a run-first attack. The Longhorns also use backup Tyrone Swoopes in a package it has dubbed the “18 Wheeler,” and he scored three rushing touchdowns in last week’s 23-9 win over Kansas State “You have to have an identity. It’s running the football. Have not lost confidence in Jerrod throwing the ball at all,” Strong said.
Iowa State turned to Lanning last week after senior Sam Richardson struggled yet again. Lanning responded with three TD passes in a 45-27 loss to No. 2 Baylor. Lanning has thrown four touchdowns in just 27 passes against Big 12 competition.
Texas has played two true road games and was outscored 88-10 by Notre Dame and TCU. “We have to play better. We have to start off right,” Strong said. Texas beat Iowa State 31-30 in Ames two years ago on a late TD that appeared to be a fumble but was instead ruled a score.
Texas at Iowa State
6 p.m. Saturday, FS1