Turning points in successful seasons become apparent only with the perspective of hindsight. Success can only be judged by the final record.
Based on that theory, Texas and Iowa State go into Thursday night's game in Ames coming off victories that could end up being judged as pivotal. For that to be the case for either team, the outcome in Jack Trice Stadium will be just as important.
The Longhorns (2-2, 1-0) defeated nemesis Kansas State on Sept. 21 to avoid a 1-3 start. The Cyclones (1-2) had lost at home to in-state foes Northern Iowa and Iowa before winning at Tulsa a week ago.
Texas is dealing with roster issues. Linebacker Steve Edmond will miss the first half after being ejected for targeting against K-State. Junior linebacker Jordan Hicks is out for the season. Quarterback David Ash has been declared out for the game while wide receiver Mike Davis is listed as a game-time decision.
One bright spot for the Longhorns is the return of Daje' Johnson. The sophomore wide receiver/running back had several big plays in the season opener but injured an ankle early in the loss at BYU. He has missed the last two games but returned to practice this week.
Johnson brings a game-breaking element UT's offense needs. Iowa State's game breaker is junior-college transfer Aaron Wimberly. Seeing his most extensive playing time of the season in the victory at Tulsa, Wimberly had 200 yards in total offense as a runner, receiver and kick returner.
"In our league right now, speed is everything and he's just got tremendous speed," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "Every time (Wimberly) touches the ball, he's got a chance to score. He makes them a different team at tailback."
Johnson had 129 yards in total offense and two touchdowns for the Longhorns against New Mexico State. If he can contribute, Johnson's speed could mean as much to Texas as Wimberly's speed means to the Cyclones.
"We certainly have packages that will work that will involve other backs," coach Paul Rhoads said Monday. "But yeah, (Wimberly is) our guy. Hopefully we haven't seen (his best) yet, we haven't hit it yet and he can keep running with that same speed and aggressiveness. As long as he keeps running with the pads down at a high rate of speed, he's going to make his yards."
Texas at Iowa State
Need to know: 6:30 p.m., Jack Trice Stadium, ESPN.
Records: Texas 2-2, 1-0; Iowa State 1-2.
Scouting Texas: The Longhorns have to deal with health/lineup changes. Texas redshirt freshman Tim Cole gets first crack at replacing injured Jordan Hicks at LB. He caught DC Greg Robinson's eye. WR/RB Daje Johnson returned to practice this week and is expected to play. QB David Ash (concussion) has been ruled out while WR Mike Davis (ankle injury) is a game-time decision.
Scouting Iowa State: The Cyclones are aiming to start Big 12 play with a victory, which would be their first at home. Quarterback Sam Richardson has been solid in all three starts and the running game finally clicked in last week's victory over Tulsa. The defense also showed improvement, particularly in shutting down the Golden Hurricane's running game.
This and that: With the exception of Thanksgiving week, the Longhorns are playing their first weekday game in 20 years. Texas won at Houston, 34-16, on Thursday, Nov. 4, 1993. … ISU is 21-10 all-time in Thursday games and 10-2 in its last 12 Thursday night games. … Texas ranks tied for 13th nationally in turnover margin. … The Cyclones have lost 10 consecutive Big 12 openers.