SATURDAY NCAA RECAP

College football: Texas schools win big in Week 7

Ed Oliver and the Cougars defense came up big. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Texas college football was full of upsets this week. Here’s how it all went down:

Houston 42, East Carolina 20

Can we all take a minute to bask in the glory that is the Houston Cougar offense?  Quarterback D’Eriq King threw for two touchdowns and ran for another score as the Cougars rolled over East Carolina on Saturday night. Star defensive tackle Ed Oliver got his first sack of the season, forced a fumble, and lineman Emeke Egbule scooped it up and barreled five yards to the end zone for the Cougars.

Texas Tech 17, TCU 14

There is much to be said about the mental stamina of the Red Raider’s offense. With two quarterbacks injured, Jett Duffey got his first start of the season and pushed Tech to a 17-14 victory over TCU. After a low-scoring first half, McLane Carter replace Duffey for only one series on a sprained ankle that wasn’t ready for full-speed action. Duffey returned to throw a 62-yard touchdown and ran for another score. "I was really proud of Jett. That's such a hard situation, first start ever and at halftime we're going to try something else," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "Then have to put him back in, and find a way, dig deep, be mentally tough enough to handle that, make enough plays to win the game. I can't say enough about his mental toughness." Duffey finished 13-of-24 passing for 190 yards and 16 carries for 83 yards.

LSU 36, Georgia 16

Defense wins games but calculated play-calling and prefect execution sure does help. Joe Burrow threw for 200 yards and two touchdown runs as the 13th-ranked Tigers beat the No. 2 Bulldogs 36-16 on Saturday. Fourth-down decisions by coach Ed Orgeron made all the difference. The Tigers converted all four times they ran an offensive play on fourth-and-short and produced a total of 13 points. "We were going to be as aggressive as we can. We were going to take shots and go for it and play to win the game the whole time,'' Orgeron said. "We were going for it as hard as we can today. We were throwing out the kitchen sink, man. We were giving them everything we had, and we did it.'' Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm arguably had his worst game of the season, completing a mere 16-of-34 passes for 209 yards, one score and an interception.

Texas 23, Baylor 17

Remember when I said Texas was a conference championship contender? I meant it. Even without Sam Ehlinger, the ninth-ranked Longhorns still managed to survive Baylor on Saturday, defeating the Bears 23-17. "We knew this wasn't going to be easy and obviously when your starting QB goes out on the first drive, there could have been some panic, a little shock," Texas coach Tom Herman said. Quarterback Shane Buechele entered the game for the Longhorns when Ehlinger was injured early in the first quarter. Texas struggled offensively for most of the game as Buechele passed for 184 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer threw for 245 yards and one touchdown. Now bowl-eligible Texas is off next week before traveling to Oklahoma State on Oct. 27.  

Texas A&M 26, South Carolina 23

After a surprisingly strong start, and a squandered 16-0 second half lead, the 22nd-ranked Aggies held off the Gamecocks in their 26-23, and third straight victory on Saturday. A&M quarterback Kellen Mond was 25-of-37 passing with 353 yards, the second most in his career. Aggie kicker Seth Small had four field goals and tight end Jace Sternberger had seven receptions for 145 yards.

Alabama-Birmingham 42, Rice 0

UAB quarterback A.J. Erdely was 11-for-17, 274 yards and two touchdowns as the Blazers shut out Rice on Saturday.

 

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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