AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Big 12’s best defense comes to DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday, and the Texas Longhorns’ high-flying offense will be tested.

When asked what the Cyclones do well defensively, Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian flipped the question during Thursday’s media availability.

MORE THAN THE SCORE: Stay up to date on sports stories like these, and sign up for our More than the Score sports newsletter at kxan.com/newsletters

“What don’t they do well?” he said. “They do it all. They minimize the run game and explosive passes, they do a good job at red zone defense and keep you out of the end zone.”

Statistically speaking, the Cyclones are the best defense the Longhorns have faced since the Alabama Crimson Tide. Iowa State is No. 8 in the country in terms of scoring defense, allowing just 13.67 points per game, and No. 11 in total defense with 277.5 yards allowed per game. They allow just 91 rushing yards per game, No. 13 in the country, and they’re No. 24 in pass defense with 186.5 yards allowed per game.

Don’t let the winless record in the Big 12 Conference fool you, the defense they have is legitimate. They’ve lost all three games by a combined 11 points, including a 10-9 loss to Kansas State last week and a 14-11 loss to Kansas the week prior. Baylor beat them by a touchdown 31-24 in the conference opener Sept. 24.

Two things will be paramount for Texas against the Cyclones — good third-down defense and trying to find a way to create explosive plays. If the Longhorns can get Iowa State’s ball-control offense off the field and keep them from long, sustained drives, Texas can put the ball in the hands of their playmakers — and they have a lot of those.

Texas averages 445.3 yards per game on offense, No. 34 in the country, and the offense averages just shy of 39 points per game, tied with Big 12 foe Kansas for No. 19. The Longhorns are top-50 in both rushing and passing, averaging 178 rushing yards (No. 47) and 267.3 passing yards (No. 39) per game.

Leading the offense is redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers, and Sarkisian said while Ewers has a unique skill set from other great quarterbacks he’s coached, there’s one thing that reminds him of a certain Trojan quarterback.

“I always referred to Matt Leinart as a cool customer, and I think Quinn has a lot of that in him,” Sarkisian said. “He performs at an optimal level when most people get tense or tight. He remains calm and executes what he has to go do.”

Ewers was named the Big 12 Conference newcomer of the week last week after he led the Longhorns to a 49-0 clobbering of Oklahoma at the Red River Showdown in Dallas. He tossed four touchdowns and racked up 289 yards on 21 of 31 passing in the blowout win.

Trying to figure out the Cyclones’ secondary is bound to test Ewers since they’ve been so stingy all season, but there’s one aspect where the teams are pretty similar — red zone defense.

An improved Longhorns defense has been a top-50 team in red zone defense this year. Texas has allowed 15 scores in 19 opponents’ possessions, nine touchdowns and six field goals, for a .789 percentage and tied for No. 47 in the country.

Iowa State, meanwhile, has allowed eight touchdowns and three field goals in the red area for a .783 percentage, tied for No. 45 in the country. The Cyclones have allowed teams to get in the red zone 14 times.