We've gone in-depth on many of these topics this week and you can find those takes under the Football tab. Here are the five biggest keys to Thursday's Iowa State-Texas game.
1. The ankle of Sam Richardson. Yes, again. Richardson's ankle is the biggest factor Thursday night because if he's close to full health he can hurt Texas in several facets. The Longhorns have given up big yardage to quarterbacks this season via gun-option and scrambles. Richardson's ankle affected his passing against Iowa, as he needed more time than usual to comfortably get his feet set, but he was better against Tulsa, completing over 50 percent of his third-down attempts.
2. Texas' quarterback situation. We now know David Ash won't be making the trip, so it'll be Case McCoy starting. McCoy won't be rattled; he's been there, done that. But he can't make the vertical plays Ash can and because of that he operates in a more limited offensive attack, predicated on running the ball, slowing the game down and some trickeration. If the Cyclones Chase McCoy from the game, in will come Tyrone Swoopes, a talented, albeit raw, true freshman quarterback. Swoopes will make plays with his feet, but does he have a sufficient grasp on the offense?
3. The JUCO guys, Aaron Wimberly and E.J. Bibbs. They'll be heavily involved in the gameplan. Wimberly will likely carry the ball 20 times or more; his speed and one-hole cutting was a revelation against Tulsa. Bibbs has a rare combination of size, speed and hands for a tight end. The Longhorns will be susceptible up the seams; Bibbs can do damage there.
4. The run defense. No Ash means a heavy diet of carries for Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown and a touches for Daje Johnson, who isn't a threat between the tackles but will be utilized in sweeps and tosses. Gray had his best career game two weeks ago versus Kansas State, with two touchdowns and 141 yards rushing.
5. Turnover opportunities. Rain can do a lot of weird things to a football field. Naturally, the ball will be slippery. The grass will be impossible to plant in. Rain swirling in front of stadium lights can do funky things to a punt returner's vision. Against Tulsa the Cyclones started 0-for-2 in converting opportunities for points off turnovers before eventually cashing in. Iowa State has to make Texas pay for coughing up the rock, even if it's just a field goal.