AMES, Iowa (AP) — Just when it looked that Texas was getting on a little roll, the Longhorns took a giant step backward.
A modest two-game winning streak built on a strong running game ended Saturday night when Iowa State overwhelmed a punchless Texas offense in a 24-0 victory.
Joel Lanning threw a touchdown pass in his first start at quarterback for the Cyclones and freshman Mike Warren carved out another 100-yard rushing game as the Cyclones beat Texas for only the second time in 13 meetings.
“It concerns me because it looked like we were building,” Texas coach Charlie Strong said. “We felt that we had something going, outside of the early losses we had. We just need to play hard and with a lot of effort. I think defensively we played hard, we need the execution to be there now.”
Texas (3-5, 2-3 Big 12) had put itself in contention for bowl eligibility after upsetting Oklahoma and dominating Kansas State. But the Longhorns struggled from the start against an Iowa State defense that had been burned often in consecutive losses to offensive powerhouses Texas Tech, TCU and Baylor.
And the Lanning-led offense kept the Longhorns back on their heels all night. Lanning, a sophomore who replaced senior Sam Richardson, was off the mark at times with his passing but did enough with his feet to keep the Cyclones moving.
Iowa State (3-5, 2-3) outgained Texas 426-204, ran 92 plays to 54 for the Longhorns and converted on 15 of 24 third-down plays. Texas was just 2-for-13 on third down.
“I was definitely surprised,” Texas defensive end Bryce Cottrell said. “I mean this is the University of Texas. That’s unacceptable. Iowa State did a great job of executing.”
Lanning led a 66-yard scoring drive that gave the Cyclones a quick early lead and floated a perfectly thrown pass to Dondre Daley in the left corner of the end zone to make it 17-0 in the third quarter. Joshua Thomas plunged in from 1 yard out late in the game to finish off the Longhorns.
The victory should ease some of the pressure on Rhoads, whose team won for just the second time in its last 13 Big 12 games. Rhoads shook things up during an eventful week and got the results he wanted.
His promotion of Lanning to the starting job was followed by the departure of offensive coordinator Mark Mangino. Assistant Todd Sturdy took over that job and Rhoads brought former Washington State coach Paul Wulff onto the staff as a volunteer assistant.
But while it worked for Iowa State, the outcome leaves Strong and his staff trying to figure out a way to get three wins in the last four games from their young team just to finish at .500.
“From our perspective, the leadership has to take over,” Strong said. “We do not have enough senior leaders. It is our job to make it happen. On defense, we have to get off the field on third down. They made some plays that kept drives going.”
Texas didn’t have a chance to use its 18-wheeler package for backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes because the Longhorns never got close to the end zone until a final desperation drive that ended with an incomplete pass on the game’s final play. Before that, they had never moved past the Iowa State 47 — and that possession ended with an interception.
Warren carried 32 times for 157 yards and a touchdown, the fifth time in the last six games he has run for at least 126. Lanning added 64 yards on the ground and completed 19 of 37 passes for 188 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
Swoopes and starter Jerrod Heard combined for only 85 yards passing, completing 12 of 22 throws.
“We can get in sync, but there were breakdowns at every position,” Strong said. “When you look at it, it is not just at the quarterback position; we have to get better all across the board. It is not just on the quarterback position, it is all of them.”