Saturday NCAA Football Recap

A&M makes history and Texas teams live to fight another day in Week 13

Kellen Mond led the Aggies to a big win. Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Houston misses its shot at a championship and the Aggies made history. Here’s look at what happened in the Lone Star State:

Texas 24, Kansas 17

Sam Ehlinger was a dominant force in the Longhorn’s victory over Kansas on Friday. The star quarterback threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and No. 11 Texas beat Kansas 24-17 to clench a spot in the Big 12 championship game. "We treated this game like a semifinal, if you will, win and advance," Texas coach Tom Herman said. "And our guys found a way to win and advance." Kansas coach David Beaty is on his way out after four losing seasons with the Jayhawks and high-profile Les Miles is taking over to hopefully restore the program. It was a good day for the longhorns who lost to the Jayhawks back  in 2016. The loss seald the fate of Charlie Strong and led to the hiring of Herman.

Memphis 52, Houston 31

Welp, the Cougars blew it. They had one last shot to make it to the American Athletic Conference  championship and they blew it. Despite being down 21-17 at halftime, Memphis rushed for five touchdowns and scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to beat the Cougars 52-31. The Tigers took advantage of the run game after defensive tackle Ed Oliver was benched due to a lingering knee injury. Running back Darrell Henderson rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns, setting a single-season conference record, passing the previous mark of 1,629. Memphis will face No. 8 UCF in the AAC title game.

Baylor 35, Texas Tech 24

After a season full of high highs and low lows, Charlie Brewer and the Bears get to go to a bowl game. The sophomore quarterback threw for 308 yards, two touchdowns and ran for another score, leading the Bears to a 35-24 victory over Texas Tech in the regular season finale. "Excited to have more time with those seniors," Brewer said. "I have the utmost respect for those guys that have stuck around here through tougher times than I could ever imagine." The Bears have earned bowl-eligibility after finishing with only one win last season. Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury was fired Sunday. The former quarterback turned head coach was 35-40 in six seasons as head coach. Baylor waits to find out what bowl game it will play in.

TCU 31, Oklahoma State 24

Despite being plagued by injury, TCU gained bowl-eligibility with a 31-24 victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday night. "With everything that happened to us, I think we ended up overachieving at the end. Simple," coach Gary Patterson said. "I don't think you can take away from our kids what they just got accomplished." Sophomore receiver Jalen Reager had one touchdown and 121 yards rushing on five carries and caught eight passes for 91 yards and another score. Both TCU and Oklahoma State wait to find out which bowl game they will play in.

Texas A&M 74, LSU 72

This game just would not end! After an early celebration on the LSU sideline and seven overtimes, the Aggies staved off the Tigers with a 74-72 victory on Saturday night. Receiver Kendrick Rogers was stunningly clutch, picking up 53 yards and two touchdowns on three receptions. After being frantically tended to on the sidelines, Rogers returned to the game in time to close it out with a two-point conversion. "These are moments you live for, so no matter what's going on with your body you want to be out there," Rogers said. "So, you just have to talk yourself out of it, just mentally fight through it." Sophomore quarterback Kellen Mond was the glue that held the Aggies together, throwing for 287 yards, six touchdowns, three 2-point conversions and ran for another touchdown. "You had two teams out there refusing to lose and we just made one more play," Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. The 74 points allowed by LSU are the most ever given up by a ranked team. The 146 combined points are the most in an FBS game in NCAA history.

Rice 27, Old Dominion 13

Juma Otoviano rushed for two touchdowns and a freshman school record 224 yards, leading the Owls to a 27-13 victory over Old Dominion on Saturday.

 

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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