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College football report: Kliff Kingsbury gets a signature win

Kliff Kingsbury pulled off a big win. Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Kliff Kingsbury gets a signature win

Some people might have totally written off Kingsbury’s Red Raiders after their opening week defeat at the hands of a very average Ole Miss squad. It wasn’t just that they got beat. They played poorly while doing it and lost their starting quarterback. Coming into this season Kliff Kingsbury was facing a great deal of pressure to win. Entering the season with a record below .500 after five seasons will create that type of pressure, even at your alma mater. The Red Raiders have responded. They beat a good Group of 5 school when they won a shootout against the Houston Cougars in Lubbock and followed that up with dominant second half to take down Mike Gundy’s Oklahoma State Cowboys. This win wasn’t about new quarterback and freshman phenom Alan Bowman throwing for 600 yards, it was the Red Raiders defense which starred on the road. Holding a top 25 team scoreless in the second half on the road is not normally something you’d associate with Texas Tech football. Now you can. It won’t get any easier for Kingsbury’s squad as 12th ranked West Virginia makes their way to Lubbock on Saturday for a top 25 matchup. A win by the Red Raiders would place them in pole position in the Big 12 championship game race.

When a loss is more than a loss

If you’re Justin Fuente you had to be feeling pretty good when you woke up last Saturday. Going into the game against 0-3 Old Dominion, Fuente’s Hokies were undefeated and which included a win on the road against  Florida State on Labor Day. A little over four hours later after the game and no one in Hokie Nation was thinking about the surprising start any longer. There are so many things that played into the 49-35 upset pulled off by the Monarchs, (I had to look their nickname up) but my biggest question is how did Virginia Tech wind up playing a game on the road against Old Dominion? That is a question for their athletic director to answer, Fuente now has bigger concerns. He lost his starting quarterback indefinitely when Josh Jackson broke a bone in his leg during the game but the loss of impactful players didn’t stop with Jackson. Leading pass rusher Trevon Hill was dismissed from the team Sunday for not “meeting team standards.” He was part of a defense that gave up 49 points. That defense as whole didn’t meet defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s standard. Hill’s dismissal is just another departure from a Hokies defense that suffered a great deal of attrition in the offseason.

Hate Watch Record 2-2

Leave it to Notre Dame to make a QB switch and explode offensively the minute I start paying attention to them. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly inserted Ian Book in the starting lineup against Wake Forest and the Irish offense looked completely different. By “completely different” I mean actually competent. Going into the game Notre Dame scored 24, 24, and 22 points in three home games to start the year. They scored 56 points at Wake Forest. Getting out of South Bend appears to have been good for the Irish offensive players. I can’t blame them. You’d feel better too if you got a reprieve from spending weekends in Indiana.

Hate Watch Game of the Week: Ohio State vs Penn State

There were plenty of reasons for me to root against Ohio State before the Urban Meyer/Zach Smith debacle so this one is easy. A top 10 matchup on Saturday night in Happy Valley is just great theater. Throw in a “whiteout” game and you’ve got the makings of a tremendous setting. Hopefully the game lives up to the hype and ends with a Buckeyes loss.

P.S. That stuff I wrote about Kelly Bryant being the leader of Clemson’s team a couple of weeks ago? Just forget about it, ok. Let’s all pretend like I never wrote it.



 

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McCullers Jr. out-pitched friend and former teammate Dallas Keuchel on Father's Day. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With three impressive wins to start this series against the once AL-leading Chicago White Sox, Houston tried to extend their winning streak to seven games and finish a four-game sweep on Father's Day. Thanks to a big inning against former-Astro Dallas Keuchel, they would win to keep their hot streak going.

Final Score: Astros 8, White Sox 2

Astros' Record: 43-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (6-2)

Rough return to Houston for Keuchel

In his first game against his old squad, Dallas Keuchel would not have a memorable start on the mound for Chicago. Houston made him labor in the first inning, loading the bases though they only came away with one run on an RBI single by Abraham Toro, grabbing the early 1-0 lead. After going down 1-2-3 in the second, they got after Keuchel again in the third.

They ended up batting around against him that inning, including a two-RBI single by Yordan Alvarez, RBI double by Taylor Jones, and bases-loaded RBI-walk by Jose Altuve, which would end Keuchel's day very early and leave the bases juiced. Chicago's bullpen would walk another batter to give Keuchel another earned run, making it a 6-2 game, with all six going against the former Houston ace. Carlos Correa extended the lead to five runs in the next inning, hitting a leadoff solo home run to make it 7-2.

McCullers Jr. gives up two over six

That gave Lance McCullers Jr. a nice lead to work with, and he managed it well. He had one big mistake in the early goings of the game, giving up a one-out single in the second to set up a two-run home run, which at the time put Chicago in front 2-1 before Houston's offense came alive. He followed that up with four scoreless innings, erasing a walk in each with some tremendous defense behind him—his final line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 94 P.

Astros complete the sweep to jump on top of the standings

Still a six-run game in the top of the seventh, Blake Taylor entered as the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen, tossing a 1-2-3 frame. He continued in the top of the eighth, getting two strikeouts in another scoreless inning. The 8-2 score would go final as Ralph Garza Jr. would enter as the third pitcher of the day to wrap things up with a scoreless top of the ninth to finish the four-game sweep. The win, their seventh straight, paired with an Oakland loss earlier in the afternoon, moves Houston into the top spot in the AL West based on winning percentage.

Up Next: This long stretch of consecutive games continues on Monday in Baltimore, as the Astros pick up a seven-game road trip starting with a three-game set against Baltimore getting underway at 6:05 PM Central. Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 5.68 ERA) will get the start for Houston, going opposite of Keegan Akin (0-2, 5.76 ERA) for the Orioles.

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