COUNTING DOWN

Del Olaleye: The weekly look at college football includes Ed Oliver on a LOT of watch lists

Ed Oliver will be on a lot of watch lists. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Ed Oliver on all the watch lists

If preseason watch lists are to be believed then Ed Oliver has a shot to be the most decorated defensive player to ever play at the University of Houston. Major college awards won’t be voted on until the end of the season but what Oliver has done in his first two years at Houston put him in a prime to position to have a very successful award season. The Outland, Nagurski, Bednarik, and the Maxwell awards have all listed Oliver as a person to look out for. Houston doesn’t have a game on the schedule this season that will garner the star defensive tackle the type of attention that his first ever game did. There is no Oklahoma for Oliver to dominate in 2018. No top 5 opponent on a national stage to help stake his claim. A great Houston season would certainly help but overwhelming numbers and dominance will be Oliver’s path to a fruitful postseason awards circuit. That path starts Sept. 1 against Rice.

Conference media days are upon us

I don’t particularly care that this week is devoted to conference commissioners and coaches waxing poetic about their conferences and programs. I do care that it is one more landmark in our long trek back to the the start of the college football season. By the end of the week we’ll be about two weeks away from the start of fall practice. I will credit Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby with the line of the week so far. When asked about some Big 12 schools selling alcohol in their stadiums during games, Bowlsby said it might be preferable to having people “power drinking” in the parking lots at halftime. You win, Mr. Bowlsby. You win. That isn’t the only great thing to come out of the Big 12 media days. The SEC has the standard bearer for the our conference is better than your conference slogans with “It just means more.” The Big 12 jumps into the conversation with “Hardest path to the CFP.” Pretty straightforward and somewhat boring. The SEC remains the king when it comes to pretentious conference slogans.

Gary Patterson is against the new transfer rules

The TCU head coach called the recent change that removes the ability of institutions of restrict the movement of college football players stupid. The NCAA now allows players to choose a new institution to transfer to without the player’s current coach or school having much of a say. Schools now have to place a player’s name in a national database within two days of being informed of an intent to transfer. In an interview with Star-Telegram, Patterson cites the ability of players on other teams to recruit a potential transfer as a problem. The Horned Frogs head coach also believes the rule is indicative of modern society, “What we’re teaching our kids to do is quit. I’m not starting. I’m not getting my playing time. Every freshman I’ve ever known wants to transfer because it’s harder than anything else he did in high school.”

I don’t buy a word of what Patterson is saying. The rule makes his job harder and that is his real problem. He winds up snitching on himself when he says this, “As I tell people all the time, at your house you’re going to allow your 17-year-old, 18-year-old to run your household? Let them pay your bills, that’s what you do? No. You don’t do that. So why are we putting our jobs in jeopardy because of an 18-year-old? That’s stupid.” You didn’t birth these players, coach. You’re their football coach. You don’t have custody.

For all the talk about the fall of modern society, Patterson’s outrage comes from a place we all know something about, CYA. As you read more and more of the article it is pretty clear that Patterson’s biggest objection is he’ll have to work harder. He now has less control over the future of the kids who decide to play for him and I’m all for 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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