Kellen Mond and the Aggies got a needed win. Cooper Neill/Getty Images
What a wild week in the Lone Star State. Here’s how it all went down:
Temple 59, Houston 49
Ryquell Armstead ran for 210 yards on 30 carries and scored six touchdowns, propelling the Temple to a dominant 59-49 victory over the Houston Cougars on Saturday night. Houston quarterback D’Eriq King was 28 of 46 passing for 322 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Star defensive tackle Ed Oliver missed his third game for the Cougars due to a lingering knee injury.
Texas 41, Texas Tech 34
Star quarterback Sam Ehlinger completed 30-of-34 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winning 29-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey with 21 seconds left, leading the fifteenth-ranked Longhorns to a wild 41-34 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday night. "Nobody on the team wants anybody other than No. 11 behind center in situations like that,” Texas coach Tom Herman said. “They believe in him. He was calm, cool and collected. He was aggressive, but not reckless." Since throwing two picks in the season opener against Maryland, Ehlinger has now thrown a Big 12 record 280 consecutive passes without a pick, breaking the standard previously set by former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. With two games left to determine who plays for the Big 12 championship, the Longhorns face No. 23 Iowa State, the team they are tied with for third place, next week.
Texas A&M 38, Mississippi 24
Sophomore quarterback Kellen Mond had a decent first half against Mississippi on Saturday night, but after turning the ball over on A&M’s first two drives of the second half, Coach Jimbo Fisher considered making a quarterback change. "When you're the quarterback you're going to have those moments of should I take him out? Should I not take him out? (But I) have faith in him," Fisher said. "He deserved the chance to go back in because I knew the look in his eye and the competitor he was." Mond finished with 19-of-28 passing for 236 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Aggies to a 38-24 victory over Mississippi. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu finished 22-for-35 passing with 373 yards and one touchdown for the Rebels. This loss marks the third straight conference defeat for the Ole’ Miss. The Rebels have two games remaining and are going to have to figure out a way to win a conference game if they hope to become bowl eligible.
Iowa State 28, Baylor 14
Quarterback Brock Purdy threw for 230 yards, one touchdown and ran for another score as No. 23 Iowa State beat Baylor 28-14 on Saturday for a fifth-straight Big 12 win in the same season for the first time. "There's still a lot of work to be done. We're still a young football team," Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. "I think what's exciting is that I sit here right now knowing that our best is still out there." Iowa’s star running back David Montgomery had 53 yards on 11 carries but was ejected early in the third quarter, along with Baylor linebacker Greg Robert, after the two began fighting each other. "David is a leader, so the last thing that I would say that David Montgomery had anything to do with was starting any controversy," Campbell said. "It certainly looked like it was a secondary action." A win for Baylor in either of its final two games would send the Bears to a bowl game. Iowa State faces No. 15 Texas in Austin next week.
West Virginia 47, TCU 10
After a scoreless first quarter, No. 7 West Virginia scored three touchdowns in a 3:25 span late in the second, catapulting the Mountaineers to a 47-10 victory over the Horned Frogs on Saturday. Quarterback Will Grier was 25 of 39 passing for 343 yards and touchdown passes of 32, 8 and 4 yards. "Morale's good. Confidence is good. Work ethic is good. It's why we're winning," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "You're only as good as your next one, so these guys have to continue doing that." TCU was held to a season-low 222 yards on offense and is in jeopardy of missing a bowl if they do not find a way to win each of their final two games.
LSU 24, Arkansas 17
One week after being shut out in a 29-0 loss to Alabama, the ninth-ranked Tigers bounced back in Week 11 and rolled to a 24-17 victory over Arkansas on Saturday night. Leading the charge against the Razorbacks was LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow was 15-of-21 passing with 195 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore receiver Justin Jefferson put on a stellar performance for the Tigers with 117 yards and one score on six receptions. This loss marks the eighth loss of the last nine games for the Razorbacks under first-year coach Chad Morris.
Appalachian State 38, Texas State 7
Sophomore quarterback Zac Thomas completed 25-of-36 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns for the Mountaineers as they cruised to a 38-7 victory over Texas State on Saturday.
Louisiana Tech 28, Rice 13
J’Mar Smith finished 21-for-34 passing with 314 yards and one touchdown for the Bulldogs as Louisiana Tech handed Rice its 10th straight loss on Saturday night. This was also the 13th straight conference loss for the Owls.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.