Jake Shaw breaks down all of the past weekend's college action across Texas.
From a near upset in San Marcos to the upset of the year in Tuscaloosa, I recap every Texas program's weekend that was, ordering the reviews based on the order of this week's Power Poll rankings.
1) Texas A&M (8-2, 5-2 in SEC)
The mob said: Alabama by 15.5
So said I: Alabama 27, Texas A&M 20
What actually happened: An old-timer will probably point out several wins that mattered more in the longterm, but since it's all about the here and now these days, Texas A&M's 29-24 win over No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa clearly goes down as the biggest win for the Aggies in recent memory. The Aggies had validated their place in the SEC in the first nine games. This win, however, shows that the Aggies are ready to compete for championships. That's inarguable after the Aggies took it to the No. 1 team and defending champs. The Ags, as you probably well know by now, stormed out to a 20-0 lead on a shocked Alabama, and when the Crimson Tide slowly came back, getting it within the A&M 5-yard line in the final two minutes and A&M leading 29-24, many a fan thought the inevitable would happen. Alabama would complete the comeback and steal the win. Instead, A&M's unsung and overshadowed defense came up with their second interception of QB A.J. McCarron -- who had zero coming into the game -- this one coming in the end zone on fourth down. And then it was Alabama making the boneheaded mistake, jumping offsides when A&M was set to punt it back to the Tide. If there were any doubts about the transformation taking place in Aggieland, they were erased on Saturday.
Star of the game: If Johnny Manziel gets an invitation to NYC for the Heisman Trophy presentation, this will go down as the game that sealed his inclusion. It wasn't his best statistical effort, but Manziel played tough and gritty against a vicious defense, accounting for 345 of Texas A&M's 418 yards. And lest you think he's a run-first QB, just watch the replay of his beautiful 24-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Kennedy, a score that held up as the game-winner.
Key number: 0, the number of turnovers by the Texas A&M offense, led by a redshirt freshman quarterback, compared to the three turnovers by Alabama.
What's next: After beating No. 1, the Aggies face No. 3 … in the FCS ranks. Sam Houston State comes to College Station ranked third in the country by the FCS coaches.
2) Texas (8-2, 5-2 in Big 12)
The mob said: Texas by 9.5
So said I: Texas 33, Iowa Sate 21
What actually happened: The old met the new on a Saturday when UT honored the passing of Darrell K. Royal, arguably the greatest coach in this state's history. Paying tribute to the longtime Longhorn coach, Texas ran a play from the wishbone -- Royal's signature formation -- on the first play of the 33-7 win over Iowa State. Only they added a little modernization, using a double-reverse pass from the wishbone to gain 47 yards on the opening play of the game. Texas never stopped, putting together its most complete performance of the season. The 609 offensive yards were the second highest of the season. The 277 allowed were the third-best mark for the defense. Texas played inspired football in this game, and now the 'Horns just need to keep it going to finish the season strong. After the back-to-back losses to WVU and OU -- followed by tight wins over Baylor (56-50) and Kansas (21-17) -- Texas has reversed its fortunes. It now looks worthy of the Top 15 ranking it had earlier in the season. Keep this up, and the Longhorns could very well play their final game this season after the calendar turns to 2013.
Star of the game: Since getting benched at Kansas, David Ash has returned with a vengeance. He passed for 364 yards and 2 TDs on Saturday, a week after throwing for 264/3 against Texas Tech. He hasn't thrown an interception in either game, this after throwing for 63 yards and 2 INTs against KU.
Key number: 330, the average yards per game the Longhorn defense has given up in the last three games. Prior to that, UT's opponents had averaged 472 yards per game.
What's next: The Longhorns have Saturday off in preparation for their annual Thanksgiving Day game against Texas A& … scratch that. Texas will host Texas Christian (aka TCU) instead, marking the first time since 1914 that UT and A&M won't face each other in a series Texas leads 76-37-5.
3) Texas Tech (7-3, 4-3 in Big 12)
The mob said: Texas Tech by 24
So said I: Texas Tech 45, Kansas 17
What actually happened: When you need two overtimes to beat one of the historical worst teams in Big 12 history -- as Tech did in its 41-34 double overtime victory Saturday in Lubbock -- you'd think that's the top storyline from the game. Tech couldn't put Kansas away, as its 10-point fourth quarter lead evaporated for good when Kansas kicked a game-tying field goal with less than a minute in regulation. But that's not the biggest story, at least not in the public conscious. It's Tech coach Tommy Tubberville's "slap" of a graduate assistant, something Tubberville said was not a slap but something video replay (already seen by more than three-quarters of a million people) clearly shows was a motion that can only be described as a slap. Tubberville apologized and then put a moratorium on Slap Gate, but the incident reveals the growing frustration in Lubbock. This was a team that thought it was Big 12 title-worthy a few weeks ago. With the threat of a three-game losing streak -- the third loss would've come to a team that hasn't won a Big 12 game in two years, nor a road game in three years -- Tubberville lost his cool. I'm somewhat surprised he hasn't faced any kind of punishment -- at least not publicly -- for the incident. But Tubberville has moved on, so we will to.
Star of the game: Seth Doege threw for 476 yards and three touchdowns, but Eric Ward deserves the highlight for his steady ascent to top target in the receiving game. Ward set career highs in receptions (12) and yards (180) for the second time in the past three games. He now has 823 receiving yards this year, 467 of them coming in the past three games.
Key number: 6.5, the average number of points that Kansas has lost in four games against Texas programs (Rice, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech). Outside of a 27-point loss to Baylor, the Jayhawks have given a real scare to some of the state's programs.
What's next: The home portion of Tech's schedule is over. The Red Raiders will hit the road for Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State, a key game in the Big 12 standings. Both teams are sitting at four conference wins, though OSU has one less Big 12 loss. A Tech win could help the Red Raiders move up a bowl slot. Tech will play Baylor in Dallas the following Saturday and has the final week of the regular season off.
4) TCU (6-4, 3-4 in Big 12)
The mob said: Kansas State by 8
So said I: Kansas State 27, TCU 23
What actually happened: The TCU defense did its part, holding Kansas State QB Collin Klein to his second lowest totals of the season both through the air (145 yards) and on the ground (50 yards). No other team has held Klein under 200 total yards in a game this year. The offense, however, never got any traction in the 23-10 loss at home. The Frogs didn't score a touchdown until just a minute and five seconds remained in the game. And of TCU's 274 yards of offense, nearly 50 percent of them (133 yards to be exact) came in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. QB Trevone Boykin had a tough night dealing with the Kansas State pressure, getting sacked five times and temporarily leaving the game with an injury. Backup Matt Brown -- a receiver to start the year -- was even less effective in his limited action. All that offset a truly great defensive performance. No team had held Kansas State under 300 yards of offense this year until TCU did it. And the last team to hold KSU to exactly 260 yards of offense, which TCU did on Saturday, was Arkansas, which beat LSU 29-16 in the Cotton Bowl this past January. TCU did half of what was necessary to get the upset, but the loss shows just how hard it is to beat a team that never beats itself.
Stars of the game: Safeties Elisha Olabode and Sam Carter flew around the field all night. The pair each had eight tackles, game highs for either team, and combined for three broken up passes. Carter also added a tackle for a loss, one of nine by the TCU defense.
Key number: 53:01, the amount of game time that elapsed before TCU finally scored on a 35-yard Jaden Oberkrom field goal. Oberkrom, a very talented freshman, has perhaps hit a wall. His miss earlier in the game was his fourth in his last six attempts after missing just two of his previous 16 attempts.
What's next: The upset at West Virginia, which clinched bowl eligibility, is looking even bigger now, as TCU has a tough two-game slate to end the season. After getting this Saturday off, TCU travels on Thanksgiving night to Texas, which has turned its season around in the past three weeks, and then closes the season at home with Oklahoma, which will need to win and win impressively to have a shot at an at-large BCS bowl birth. TCU is in jeopardy of its first non-winning regular season since going 5-6 in 2004.
5) Baylor (4-5, 1-5 in Big 12)
The mob said: Oklahoma by 19.5
So said I: Oklahoma 48, Baylor 24
What actually happened: It wasn't the one-sided game most everyone expected. Oklahoma had a lot to play for Saturday, revenge for last year's stunning defeat, as well as a Big 12 title race, but Baylor hung around in a 42-34 defeat, much in thanks to the running game. QB Nick Florence passed for under 200 yards for just the second time in 16 starts. That usually would've left the Bears for dead. Instead, Baylor rushed for 252 yards, the second time in a row to surpass the 250-yard mark. That kept Baylor in the game down to the final minutes. Baylor trailed by one score with 1:36 to play after Lache Seastrunk (more on him later) scored his third rushing touchdown of the day and the Bears completed a two-point conversion, but OU recovered Baylor's onside attempt, allowing the Sooners to escape with the win, one that puts Bob Stoops alone in second place behind Barry Switzer in program history. More encouraging than the new life for the running game was the play of the defense. Yes, it gave up 460 to the Sooners. But Baylor will take improvement anywhere it can defensively, and Saturday marked the second straight game Baylor held an opponent under 500 yards of offense after the previous five opponents -- and six of seven overall -- had totaled at least 507 yards.
Star of the game: It took him some time to get a foothold of the offense, but Lache Seastrunk has finally taken off. The Oregon transfer rushed for 91 yards and three touchdowns, and some of his best runs gained just a few yards, but his amazing ability to make people miss prevented Baylor from losing yards on such plays. Seastrunk has 194 rushing yards in the past two weeks, 13 more yards than he had in the previous seven games combined.
Key number: 12, the number of completed passes by Florence in his 33 attempts, giving him a 36.4 completion percentage. His previous season low was 58.6 percent, and Florence missed on several deep passes to open receivers. Florence still leads the nation in passing yards per game with 354.6 despite his off day.
What's next: Baylor plays the No. 1 ranked team in the country for the 13th time in school history and the first since losing to No. 1 Oklahoma in 2008. Baylor has never beaten the nation's top team but did tie Texas at 7 in the early 1940s.
6) SMU (5-5, 4-2 in CUSA)
The mob said: SMU by 12
So said I: SMU 36, Southern Miss 17
What actually happened: By halftime of the 34-6 win over Southern Miss Saturday in Dallas, the Mustangs had taken all the drama out of the game. After two quarters, which SMU led 27-6, SMU had given up just 114 yards, had created two turnovers, and had racked up 239 yards of offense. But just to ensure that nothing crazy would happen, SMU cranked it up defensively. Southern Miss had four three-and-outs on its six second-half possessions and gave up just 68 yards over the final two quarters. This is what you do to bad teams. You dominate and don't give them hope. It's not what SMU did at Tulane earlier this year, allowing Tulane to stick around. SMU eventually lost that game in New Orleans by a point, and that game is the reason SMU still needs one more victory to become bowl eligible.
Star of the game: Since throwing at least one interception in the first seven games, Garrett Gilbert went pick-free for the third straight game on Saturday. He threw for 249 yards and a score while also leading the team in rushing. Gilbert also had a career-high 94 rushing yards and scored twice on the ground.
Key number: 3.36, the yards per play SMU held Southern Miss to on Saturday, the lowest mark by the SMU defense since limiting Pitt to 3.31 in last year's bowl game.
What's next: It's make-or-break for both SMU and its opponent Saturday, Rice, which must win its final two games to reach bowl eligibility. SMU has two chances for that magical sixth win, but with a game against Tulsa to close the season, SMU would do itself a big favor winning in Houston. Beating Tulsa, the only unbeaten team in the CUSA West Division, would be a tall order.
7) Houston (4-6, 3-3 in CUSA)
The mob said: Tulsa by 2.5
So said I: Tulsa 40, Houston 35
What actually happened: On paper, Houston's 42-7 loss to Tulsa at home on Saturday doesn't look good. The Coogs didn't score until only about seven minutes remained in the game, preventing Houston's first shutout loss since 2000. The defense gave up 505 yards, including 350 yards on the ground. Tulsa had nearly as many running plays (60) as UH did total offensive plays (72). But then you consider what wasn't in the stat sheet, namely D.J Hayden. The team's defensive captain was in the hospital, trying to recover from what doctors termed a near-fatal injury sustained during practice, when a collision between the defensive back and a teammate resulted in a tear in an artery that returns blood back to the heart. Chron.com reported that never before has this accident been seen on the football field. It was simply a freak accident, but it certainly affected his teammates. As tragic as it is, the loss on the field is pretty painful to Houston, which needs to win its final two games to make a bowl game for the seventh time in the past eight seasons. The eight bowl games UH has played in this century account for nearly half of its 20 postseason appearances. The momentum needs to keep going. Now that Hayden has been released from the hospital, here's hoping his recovery will inspire his teammates in these final two games.
Star of the game: It wasn't a huge game by any means, but highly-touted freshman WR Deontay Greenberry led his team in receiving for the first time all season, recording team highs with five catches for 49 yards. Greenberry is showing the promise that comes with his Top 50 national recruiting ranking coming out of high school.
Key number: 28, Houston's average margin of defeat in its past three games. Houston has lost three of its last four after it had reached the .500 mark, the closest game being a 20-point loss at East Carolina.
What's next: Houston must win its final two games of the season. Fortunately, the Coogs play two of the worst CUSA teams, starting with a road trip to Marshall, which sports an identical 4-6 record and is hoping to stave off bowl elimination. Houston will close the season hosting Tulane at home in a game that will literally mean everything -- or nothing.
8) Rice (4-6, 2-4 in CUSA)
What actually happened: The Owls finally got an off week after playing games for 10 straight weeks. The timing was perfect; with two games left, Rice must win out to become bowl eligible. The schedule will make that possible, as Rice plays two teams with a combined 7-13 record.
Key number: 1, the combined point differential between Rice and the two teams left on its schedule, SMU and UTEP, from their 2011 meetings. Rice lost by three to SMU, 27-24, but beat UTEP by four, 41-37, last season.
What's next: Rice hosts SMU, which like Rice really needs to win to get bowl eligible. If SMU can't beat Rice, the Mustangs must win at home against Tulsa, which can wrap up the CUSA West Division title with either a win or an SMU loss. Needless to say, this game is as important to SMU as it is to Rice.
9) North Texas (4-6, 3-3 in Sun Belt)
The mob said: North Texas by 9.5
So said I: North Texas 28, South Alabama 17
What actually happened: One thing first-year FBS program South Alabama does well is play defense. The Jaguars rank 37th in the nation defensively despite playing a tough schedule, and its defensive prowess was evident in North Texas's 24-14 win Saturday in Denton. The Mean Green's 303 yards of offense was the lowest total of the year since posting 219 at LSU in the season opener. QB Derek Thompson had a particularly rough game -- this a week after his only 300-yard game of 2012 -- throwing for only 106 yards on 12 of 28 passing. The running game and UNT's defense bailed the team out, however, as RBs Brandin Byrd and Jeremy Brown combined for 170 of UNT's 197 yards on the ground. That pair accounted for two touchdowns, including Byrd's 85-yard scoring run in the third quarter that held up as the game winner. After UNT took that lead, South Alabama went three-and-out on three possessions, lost fumbles on two others, and only put up one drive that went more than 25 yards, showing that UNT can play a little defense, too.
Star of the game: One of the most overlooked LBs in the state, Zachary Orr had another big day for the UNT defense, collecting a game-high 12 tackles, getting one tackle for a loss, and recovering one of two South Alabama lost fumbles. Orr's 94 tackles on the season rank him 35th in the country.
Key number: 2.9, the difference in average yards per carry between the two teams on Saturday. UNT rushed for 6.2 yards per carry, nearly doubling South Alabama's 3.3 average.
What's next: The Mean Green travels to a team that's lost its steam, Louisiana-Monroe, which opened the year stunning Arkansas on the road, then barely lost to Auburn and Baylor. ULM then reeled off five straight wins, but the last two weeks has seen two losses by an average of 19 points per game. If ULM continues its slide, UNT will have a chance to win and get one game closer to bowl eligibility.
10) Texas State (3-6, 1-3 in WAC)
The mob said: Louisiana Tech by 20
So said I: Louisiana Tech 45, Texas State 21
What actually happened: How do you sum up Texas State's 62-55 loss to Louisiana Tech -- a game with 117 combined points, a combined 1,204 yards of offense and an amazing zero turnovers -- in just one paragraph? You start with offense, of course. After this weekend, Louisiana Tech now ranks first in the nation in total offense, averaging 576.5 yards per game. La Tech had 627 against Texas State, but that was inevitable. Texas State just doesn't have the defense to slow down such a prolific offense. But where the game surprised was Texas State breaking out for 577 yards, just the second time this season the Bobcats have reached the 500 mark. The previous time was against woeful Idaho, so this was an encouraging development. Texas State was very balanced, rushing for 296 and passing for 281. Louisiana Tech only led by two touchdowns twice in this game. The first time, Texas State responded with two straight scores to tie the game at 48. La Tech then went up 62-48, and Texas State only had one reply, Shaun Rutherford's 1-yard touchdown run with 1:10 left in the game. La Tech recovered the Texas State onside kick attempt to survive. Though Louisiana Tech is nearly as bad defensively as it's good offensively, Texas State should be encouraged by its effort.
Star of the game: Aside from his solid day through the air (234 yards, 2 TDs), QB Shaun Rutherford finished second to Marcus Curry (13-134, 2 TDs) on the team in rushing with 90 yards and a touchdown.
Key number: 419, the number of consecutive pass attempts without an interception by Louisiana Tech QB Colby Cameron, setting a new NCAA record. Cameron didn't throw a pick in his 45 attempts against Texas State and last threw an interception in the 31-24 bowl loss to TCU a year ago.
What's next: The Bobcats will travel to Navy, which has an equal but opposite offense compared to Louisiana Tech. Navy has rushed for more than twice the number of yards it has passed for, so the Bobcats will spend the week focusing on stopping the run.
11) UTEP (2-8, 1-5 in CUSA)
The mob said: UCF by 12
So said I: UCF 30, UTEP 17
What actually happened: It's been a season of close losses for UTEP, and the 31-24 home defeat to Central Florida was just the latest in a series of games UTEP could've won -- but didn't. The Miners are losing by an average of about nine points per game, a low number considering they're six games below the .500 mark. UCF, which will wrap up the East Division title with one more win, only led by double figures once, when it opened the fourth quarter with a 10-yard touchdown for a 24-10 lead. UTEP immediately responded, going on a 10-play, 79-yard touchdown drive to cut the deficit to seven, forcing a UCF three-and-out, then tying the game on one play, a 69-yard Nathan Jeffery touchdown run with 7:51 left in the game. But following the frustrating course of the season, UCF answered to regain the lead, and UTEP went nowhere on its final drive.
Star of the game: Freshman QB Blaire Sullivan had a decent first career start (153 total yards, 1 TD), but Nathan Jeffery carried the offense with his 174 yards on 24 carries and two rushing touchdowns. Jeffery has been hit or miss this year, mostly because of injuries, but he's set up to be the main guy for his final two seasons in El Paso.
Key number: 4, the number of UTEP turnovers against UCF, three of them lost fumbles. That led to a -3 turnover margin and is arguably the primary reason UTEP couldn't pull off the upset.
What's next: The Miners have the chance to escape the basement of CUSA with their final two games. First up is a road trip to winless Southern Miss, followed by hosting Rice, which if it can beat SMU this weekend will need to win at UTEP to get bowl eligible.
12) UTSA (6-4, 1-3 in WAC)
The mob said: The mob ignores lines with FCS teams
So said I: UTSA 34, McNeese State 20
What actually happened: A 10-7 hafltime deficit surely slapped UTSA in the face, waking the Roadrunners up from the lull of a four-game losing streak it entered the game with. The four previous losses were explicable, but trailing to an FCS program wasn't. So credit UTSA for waking up and leaving the locker room with purpose and getting the 31-24 win at home. UTSA had three possessions in the third quarter. Each ended with a touchdown. Meanwhile, UTSA held McNeese State to 24 yards in that decisive third quarter. For good measure, UTSA tacked on a field goal on its fourth second-half possession, pushing the Roadrunners' lead to 31-10. But that's where things got too interesting. Earlier this season, UTSA led Texas A&M-Commerce 27-3 before giving up 13 straight points to an inferior team, making the game closer than it should've been. Same thing this Saturday. UTSA had the 21-point lead and should've put McNeese State away. Instead, the visiting Cowboys recorded their two most impressive drives of the game, a 12-play, 85-yard drive, followed by a 7-play, 86-yard drive, each ending with touchdowns. The latter brought McNeese State within 31-24 with 3:30 left in the game. UTSA was able to run nearly three minutes off that time, giving McNeese State only 35 seconds to try to tie the game. Of course, McNeese State came up short, but the ending spoiled what could've been a great second half for UTSA.
Star of the game: Since returning from an injury, Eric Soza has passed for two of his three highest totals of the season, 314 yards and 4 TDs last week, and 262 and 2 TDs against McNeese State. His arm helped UTSA mitigate the slow day running -- UTSA averaged just 3 yards per carry.
Key number: 0, the number of UTSA turnovers on Saturday, the fifth game this season UTSA hasn't turned the ball over. The Roadrunners only have 11 turnovers this year, a number that ranks them in the Top 15 in the nation. Six of them came in one game, the loss to San Jose State.
What's next: Because two games came against sub-FCS programs, UTSA must win its final two games to become bowl eligible. First up is Idaho, which has given up 40 more touchdowns than it has scored, followed by hosting fellow first-year FBS Texas State at home.
Grading My Predictions
Last week straight up: 10-1
Last week against the spread: 5-5
Season straight up: 82-25
Season against the spread: 47-45
Jake Shaw is a special contributor to TexasFootball.com
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