Jake Shaw reviews the weekend's college action across Texas.
And there we have it. The end of the 2012 college football regular season has, sadly, arrived. But with the late surge by several programs, seven of the 12 FBS teams in Texas will play this bowl season. I'll have more on those games later. Until then, here's a recap of the handful of games from Saturday, based as always in the order of this week's Power Poll rankings.
1) Texas A&M (10-2, 5-2 in SEC)
Key number: 3, the number of finalists for the 2012 Heisman Trophy, which -- of course -- includes Texas A&M redshirt freshman QB Johnny (Football) Manziel, who must beat out Kansas State QB Collin Klein and Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o to become the first freshman Heisman winner in the trophy's long history. HeismanPundit.com currently has Manziel in the lead.
What's next: After the trophy presentation, Texas A&M will face former Big 12 rival Oklahoma in what many analysts (myself included) are calling the best non-BCS bowl this postseason. It appears Texas A&M got picked over LSU to face the Sooners for the January 4 kickoff at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
2) TCU (7-5, 4-5 in Big 12)
The mob said: Oklahoma by 6.5
So said I: Oklahoma 29, TCU 22
What actually happened: TCU fans (and the coaches/players for that matter) probably have two legitimate beefs with the officials from the 24-17 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday. One was a missed field goal that to many eyes appeared to be good. The other was far more consequential. TCU's final offensive play was a pass that sailed through the hands of receiver Josh Boyce, though it also appeared there was some contact with some OU defensive backs before the ball arrived. But neither call went TCU's way, representative of TCU's season at its newly-renovated football stadium. TCU entered the season with a national-best 24-game conference winning streak and pushed the to 25 after beating Kansas on the road. But the Frogs would go on to lose all four of their conference home games, first to Iowa State days after TCU lost QB Casey Pachall for the season due to off-field issues, and closing with the loss to the Sooners. Oklahoma played the better game but never put TCU away, and the Frogs made the most of their limited chances. They scored on a one-play drive after a turnover, then scored on an 80-yard pass-and-catch on another one-play scoring drive, this one midway through the third quarter to make it a 21-14 deficit. The teams traded field goals, and TCU got the ball back with 2:48 to go and drove 60 yards before stalling inside the OU 20.
Star of the game: Though 80 of his 231 passing yards came on one play, Trevone Boykin also made plays with his feet, rushing for 36 yards (second only to B.J. Catalon) and one touchdown. Boykin was sacked twice but probably avoided a couple more with his elusive running in the pocket.
Key number: 3, the number of times TCU converted on 15 third-down attempts. TCU struggled on third downs in 2012, converting just 34 percent of the time and only 25 percent in its five losses.
What's next: The fifth-place team in the Mountain West is playing its bowl game Dec. 15th in the New Mexico Bowl. So as tough as this first Big 12 season was for the Frogs, the payoff has been immediate. TCU, tied for fifth in its new conference, will play in a far better bowl (Buffalo Wild Wings, formerly the Insight Bowl) with a better payoff on a better date (Dec. 29th) against a major-conference team (Michigan State).
2) Texas (8-4, 5-4 in Big 12)
The mob said: Kansas State by 11.5
So said I: Kansas State 34, Texas 21
What actually happened: The Texas defense kept Collin Klein under wraps for a half, but UT eventually caved in during the 42-24 loss at Kansas State. Klein, a Heisman finalist and one-time frontrunner before the loss to Baylor, led KSU to just one score in the first half, a one-yard drive after a Kansas State interception returned what looked like a touchdown until a review showed the defender dropped the ball at the 1-yard line. But that was it for a first half Texas led 10-7. That was also it for Texas's chances in this game. Things changed dramatically after half time. Klein resurrected both his play and the offense's overall, as Kansas State scored touchdowns on five straight drives in the second half before kneeling out the clock on its final possession of the game. Klein ended up with 287 total yards and 3 TDs. On his own, his 103 rushing yards were more than Texas had as a team. This season still ended better than last, but there still appears to be several weaknesses in a UT program two years removed from a 5-7 season. Many pundits expected a breakout season in Austin, but losing the final two games of 2012 should temper that prediction for a while.
Star of the game: His role is still somewhat undefined, but freshman Daje Johnson has no doubt become a playmaker for the Longhorns. He had just one rush for 14 yards, but his five receptions and 85 receiving yards were both team highs. Johnson averaged nearly 11 yards per touch this season.
Key number: 99, the number of rushing yards by Texas against Kansas State, the second straight game Texas was held under 100 as a team and third time this season overall. Texas got 46 of those yards on a reverse to D.J. Monroe, a run that raised UT's per-carry average to 3.3 for the game.
What's next: Not the showdown everyone but the folks in Austin wanted, as OU dropping out of a BCS game knocked the Sooners down to the Cotton Bowl, forcing UT out of a potential matchup with Texas A&M and instead into the Valero Alamo Bowl against the Pac 12's Oregon State.
4) Baylor (7-5, 4-5 in Big 12)
The mob said: Oklahoma State by 4
So said I: Oklahoma State 48, Baylor 43
What actually happened: It's amazing what a defense can do. Baylor's defense won't be confused with Alabama's any time soon, but the unit's play of late has helped spark the Bears to a 4-1 record to close the season, the final win coming Saturday at home, 41-34 over OSU. The Cowboys put up a lot of yards, but Baylor got far more stops it was used to against OSU. The Bears forced four punts and intercepted OSU twice, including a one-handed sang by LB Eddie Lackey that he returned for a touchdown. It was the second in as many games for Lackey, named the Big 12 defensive player of the week for the second straight game. That pick six gave Baylor a 10-3 lead, and Baylor eventually pushed it all the way to 24-3 on the first play of the second quarter, a 75-yard pass from Nick Florence -- who ended the day with 367 total yards, giving him the most total offense in the country (4,652), even ahead of that guy down in College Station. Baylor got pretty conservative in the second half, but the defense allowed Baylor to stick to the running game (and so did the efficiency of the running game). OSU scored late to make it a one-score game, but Baylor recovered an onside kick and ran out the final minute of the game. A 3-4 team just after the midpoint, Baylor played its best football of the season when it mattered and proved it could win without a Heisman winner at the helm.
Star of the game: He had already gained more than 100 yards for the fourth time in the past five games, but Lache Seastrunk's 76-yard touchdown run on his final carry will be the one Baylor fans remember most. Seastrunk hit a hole fast and appeared to have an easy score, but he cramped up at the OSU 40-yard line and literally ran, hopped and skipped his way the final 40 yards before diving into the end zone for what stood up as the decisive touchdown. Seastrunk had just 196 rushing yards in the first seven games, but after becoming the featured back against Kansas, Seastrunk rushed for 678 yards and 5 TDs in the final five games to finish with a team-high 874 rushing yards.
Key number: 319, the number of rushing yards by Baylor as a team, giving the Bears 1,490 rushing yards in the past five games alone. The lowest total in that five-game stretch, where Baylor went 4-1, was 252 in the loss at Oklahoma.
What's next: A third straight bowl trip, the first time in program history. Baylor has finished with winning seasons three straight times before, but this will be the first time the Bears get rewarded with three straight postseason games. The late surge helped Baylor get picked for its first trip to the Holiday Bowl, awaiting Pac 12 runner-up UCLA.
5) Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5 in Big 12)
Key number: 31, the points trailed in the 2006 Insight Bowl to Minnesota, the last and only previous meeting between the teams until …
What's next: Texas Tech faces Minnesota once again in the postseason, this time in Houston in the Meineke Car Car Bowl on December 28. Texas Tech trailed 38-7 midway through the third quarter the last time it played Minnesota but rallied for 31-straight points to close the game before winning in overtime, 44-41. The comeback set a new record for a college football bowl game.
6) Rice (6-6, 4-4 in CUSA)
Key number: 4, the consecutive number of wins by Rice to earn a trip to the postseason. Rice beat Southern Miss and SMU at home while winning at Tulane and UTEP to earn its second bowl trip under head coach David Bailiff and just third since 1961.
What's next: The Owls will try to make it five straight wins overall -- and two straight in the postseason -- when it appropriately faces Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl on December 29 in Fort Wort. Expect the fastest game of the postseason -- both programs run the ball far more than they throw it.
7) SMU (6-6, 5-3 in CUSA)
Key number: 4, the consecutive number of postseason trips for SMU, a program first. The string of bowl trips started with a trip to the Hawaii Bowl in 2009, and once again …
What's next: SMU will say Aloha to the Hawaii Bowl this year, where it will take on Fresno State on Christmas Eve. SMU won its first meeting with Fresno State in 1999 but has since lost the last five games against the Bulldogs, who rebounded from a 4-8 season last year to go 9-3 and win a share of the MWC title.
8) Houston (5-7, 4-4 in CUSA)
Key number: 32.4, Houston's average points per game, down by more than 10 points from last year and the lowest total since the 2005 season. Twice Houston scored less than 10 points in a game after UH scored at least 28 in every game last season.
What's next: The Big East (in its latest incarnation), with no bowl beforehand, awaits Houston. On the horizon is a new stadium in 2014 as the former home of the Coogs, Robertson Stadium, has only a few more days to live before it's demolished. Seeing that UH fired its offensive coordinator after just one game into 2012, expect to see another change or two to on Tony Levine's staff after this letdown season.
9) UTSA (8-4, 3-3 in WAC)
Key number: 7, the number of sacks allowed by the UTSA offensive line this season, the second-fewest in the nation. UTSa also finished in the national Top 10 in another category, turnover margin, where UTSA's +12 was the ninth-best number in the country.
What's next: The transition to the FBS ranks continues with a move from the WAC, which will cease to exist after this academic year, to Conference USA, along with four other programs (including the next one on this list). The Roadrunners will enter 2013 with some momentum, having won its final three games of its first official season in the FBS. UTSA went 4-6 in 2011, its first ever season playing football.
10) North Texas (4-8, 3-5 in Sun Belt)
Key number: 5, the number of sacks allowed by the North Texas offensive line, the lowest total in the country, beating out UTSA for the national No. 1 ranking. Three of the starters return next season and, all of them juniors-to-be, will start for the third straight year.
What's next: The youth of many teams in the state got a lot of press, but UNT's inexperience was often overlooked. UNT had 15 players make their first career starters -- only eight programs had more. So expect a much more experienced team next season when UNT makes the jump from the Sun Belt to the new-look Conference USA.
11) Texas State (4-8, 2-4 in WAC)
The mob said: Texas State by 13
So said I: Texas State 30, New Mexico State 18
What actually happened: The second quarter of Texas State's 66-28 win at home over New Mexico State should go down as one of the lasting memories of the 2012 season, Texas State's first in the FBS ranks. The Bobcats trailed 21-14 after an explosive first quarter, giving up three straight 75-yard touchdown drives to NMSU. Then came the fateful second quarter, where Texas State went on a 35-0 run, scoring in nearly every way possible. It started with Shaun Rutherford's only touchdown pass of the day (Rutherford threw for just 69 yards but led Texas State with 138 on the ground). Then came consecutive NMSU fumbles that Texas State returned for touchdowns. After a more traditional score -- a rushing TD by Terrence Franks -- the Bobcats scored again in a somewhat unusual fashion, getting a 79-yard punt return by Craig Mager. NMSU salvaged the second quarter with a late touchdown, but with Texas State leading 49-28 at the half, the air had been knocked out of the visiting Aggies. Texas State would force two more turnovers and outscore NMSU 17-0 in the second half to end its first FBS season with reason to celebrate.
Star of the game: This is no misprint: LB Joplo Bartu had 17 tackles on Saturday, 8 TFLs and 4 sacks. Some guys don't get those latter two stats in a single season. Not surprisingly, Bartu was named second-team All-WAC this week.
Key number: 9, the number of players that accounted for the nine touchdowns scored by Texas State on Saturday.
What's next: The Bobcats end their one-year run in the WAC, a conference breaking up for good, and will join the Sun Belt, which like every other conference these days will look very different than what Texas State originally signed up for. Two of the Bobcats' non-conference games will be away from San Marcos -- at Texas Tech and at Southern Miss -- while Wyoming will come to town in another. The rest of the schedule is yet to be determined.
12) UTEP (3-9, 2-6 in CUSA)
Key number: 9, seasons under Mike Price, who retired just before UTEP's season finale. Price's tenure was the second-longest in UTEP history and started with a bang, getting bowl trips in 2004 and 05, but he only had one since, and the Miners have lost five straight bowl games.
What's next: The only non-bowl team in Texas not making a conference change, the Miners will stick around CUSA, but they'll do so with a new coach (check out the El Paso Times for a great breakdown of who that could be). The new coach will be greeted with a talented roster and a far more manageable non-conference schedule. Though UTEP's schedule isn't complete, three non-conference games are slated: New Mexico, New Mexico State and Colorado State, a far easier lineup than 2012 when UTEP played the Big 12 co-champs (Oklahoma), the Big 10 champs (Wisconsin), and an SEC bowl team (Ole Miss).
Grading My Predictions
Last week straight up: 3-1
Last week against the spread: 2-2
Season straight up: 109-35
Season against the spread: 59-53
Jake Shaw is a special contributor to TexasFootball.com
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