Saturday NCAA Football Recap

Longhorns barely get a clutch win, A&M fights on and Houston loses again

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.

 

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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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