THE NCAA REWIND

Saturday NCAA Football Recap: Baylor is still undefeated; LSU continues its quest for perfection in Week 8

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Maybe Bad Baylor isn't so bad after all. Here's a look at what happened in the Lone Star State and with LSU:

Houston 24, UConn 17

While my thoughts on the Cougars' coaching staff have not changed since last week, defensive back Grant Stuard further solidified my views that he is quite possibly the most disruptive player in college football. He's hungry and it shows. Stuard had 15 tackles, including a touchdown-saving effort to stop a 58-yard run by UConn's Kevin Mensah in the Cougars' 24-17 win over the Huskies on Saturday. While some credit the win to Houston coach Dana Holgorsen's son, Logan, I know the victory would not have been possible without Stuard. Dana Holgerson was caught on the sideline in the second quarter making a profanity-riddled comment about his players' inability to be coached which, to me, speaks volumes about his inability to communicate effectively with his team. "I say things all the time I don't mean," Holgorsen said. "In the heat of the battle, things on the sidelines, hot mics or cameras getting caught. My guys know good and well what I think of them, how hard I'd coach them and how much I think of them and how much I appreciate everything that they do." People who "appreciate" you show it. That's all I'm going to say about that. The Cougars return home to No. 19 SMU on Thursday night.

Texas 50, Kansas 48

Dicker. Kicker. On the brink of a massive upset by an unranked opponent, it was up to quarterback Sam Ehlinger and kicker Cameron Dicker to bring it home for the Longhorns. And they delivered. Ehlinger drove the Longhorns to the Jayhawks 21-yard line, putting Texas within field goal range with 1:11 left to play. Dicker kicked a 33-yarder as the clock expired to lift the Longhorns to a 50-48 victory, bringing an end to a fourth quarter scoring shootout that saw schools exchange six touchdowns, two field goals and a blocked extra point for a two-point safety. "I love kickers," said Herman, who makes a joke of not saying a kicker's name, and still didn't in his postgame news conference. "I'm glad that we have the one we have." Ehlinger finished with 399 yards passing, four touchdowns and added another 91 yards on the ground. "A win's a win," Ehlinger said. "Very thankful we were able to pull that out." Despite having the worst offense in the Big 12, the Jayhawks were explosive under recently promoted offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon. "I got guys that are fighting like hell to be a part of what we're doing here and Dearmon is one of them," Kansas coach Les Miles said. Despite the win, Texas could drop in the polls after nearly losing to the worst team in the Big 12. Texas is on the road against TCU next Saturday.

​Kansas State 24, TCU 17

It's been a long time coming for Kansas State. Junior quarterback Skylar Thompson threw two touchdowns that sparked a late game surge to top TCU 24-17 in Kansas State's first win on over a month and their first Big 12 win of the season. "Just the toughness and resolve because he got hit a lot and he always just kept coming back," Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said of Thompson. The Wildcats finished with only 266 yards in a game that felt like TCU should have won. "I mean, we practice what they do and then we react to whatever else they do," TCU cornerback Julius Lewis said. "We've got to keep working." TCU hosts Texas on Saturday.

Texas A&M 24, Mississippi 17

After trailing midway through the third quarter, Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike made two game-changing plays that elevated the Aggies to a 24-17 comeback victory over Ole' Miss in Saturday night. "I just tried to put myself in position to make big plays for my team," said Madubuike, who finished with five tackles, including a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. "It's blocking a ball, sacking a quarterback and all those little things that helped us come out with a win." Aggie quarterback Kellen Mond was 16-of-28 for 172 yards passing and 76 yards rushing on 15 carries. The Aggies host rival Mississippi State on Saturday.

LSU 36, Mississippi State 13

Another week of college football brings about another opportunity for me to rave about the amazing Joe Burrow. The Starkville crowd got a glimpse of Burrow's backside after the star quarterback was pulled to the ground by his pants during his third sack of the game. "I heard there was supposed to be a full moon in Starkville tonight," Burrow joked. Burrow finished 25-of-34 with 327 yards passing and four touchdowns to break LSU's season record with 29 in the No. 2 Tigers' 36-13 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday. "It's a testament to him, the receivers, the offensive line, the coaches," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. "But we're just getting started. Our team is not satisfied." We know, coach. You're never satisfied and that's probably why the Tigers are so gosh darned talented. In Burrow's postgame comments, the team leader made it clear he and Orgeron are of one mind in their relentless quest for perfection. "If we play like this next week (versus No. 11 Auburn), we'll lose," Burrow said. "I think we're going to have to execute much better in the red zone than we did this week, because I don't think we'll get as many chances." At a glance it's hard to find fault in the final score for LSU. The Tigers had 415 yards of offense and forced three turnovers against Mississippi State. However, LSU struggled to find a rhythm in the first half, having to settle for field goals on its first three drives. "We didn't play our best game today, but I knew this day was going to come, and I'm proud of our defense," Orgeron said. "Your offense is not going to play great, on fire every week." Mississippi State freshman quarterback Garrett Shrader threw for 238 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted twice by the Tigers. Expect LSU to hold its poll position after taking care of business on the road against an unranked opponent. LSU hosts No. 11 Auburn next week.

​Baylor 45, Oklahoma State 27

Somehow, some way, Bad Baylor has managed to go undefeated for seven-straight games this season. Don't worry, I'm just as shocked as you. Baylor was the four-point underdog going into Saturday's game against Oklahoma State and for the first three quarters, we learned why. Oklahoma State led at halftime, in the third quarter and in the fourth. Baylor responded with 21 unanswered points in the final 10 minutes to beat the cowboys 45-27 on Saturday. Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer completed 13-of-17 passes for 312 yards and one touchdown and ran for another score to extend the Bears' winning streak to nine games, the third longest in program history. "I thought we showed heart and I was very appreciative of our guys' effort," Baylor coach Matt Rhule said. "We knew eventually we were going to be OK. I think our team felt like, if we just hang in there, eventually we'll make enough plays to win. I thought everyone stepped up and it was a great team win. It wasn't perfect but they didn't panic." Bad Baylor will probably move up a few spots in the rankings but that's contingent upon how the teams ahead of them fare. Baylor is off next week and faces West Virginia at home on Oct. 31.

Iowa State 34, Texas Tech 24

Iowa State quarterback Brock Burdy threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns to rout Texas Tech 34-24 on Saturday. Freshman running back Breeve Hall ran for 183 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cyclones to victory. Texas Tech plays at Kansas next Saturday.

UTSA 31, Rice 27

The Rice Owls fell to 0-7, losing at UTSA. This might have been the last chance for Rice to win a football game, as they went in favored.

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Billy Wagner's numbers speak volumes. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

Down to four weeks until the doors swing open for Astros’ spring training in West Palm Beach. The on time start to things this year has Astros’ pitchers and catchers reporting Thursday, February 16, with everyone else due Tuesday, February 21. All together now: Yay!!!

The Astros will convene at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches complex with very few pressing questions. Who will job share behind the plate with Martin Maldonado? Yainer Diaz and Korey Lee will battle for that. Will a left-handed hitting center fielder surface to complement Chas McCormick? The Astros really have no legit contender for the job unless you like the idea of Kyle Tucker sliding over to center a little bit. Will the Astros carry a left-handed reliever? Blake Taylor is the only in house candidate. Still unsigned free agent lefty Andrew Chafin would be a quality addition but Jim Crane is probably thinking why give two years 16 mil or so to Chafin when the Astros had the best bullpen in the big leagues in 2022 and have every major contributor (Ryan Pressly, Rafael Montero, Hector Neris, Ryne Stanek, and Bryan Abreu) back. On the subject of the Astros and left-handed relievers…

Cooperstown calling?

The Baseball Writers Association Hall of Fame Class of 2023 is named on Tuesday. This will be a big year to see if Billy Wagner gets the jump needed to position him for a good shot at election in the two years he has left on the ballot after this one. 75 percent “yes” votes are needed for election. After starting off with a paltry 10.5 percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot (for the Class of 2016), Wagner actually got a smaller percentage of votes (10.2 percent) the following year. However,“Wags” has gained sizable ground over the last five years, going from 11.1 percent to 16.7, then a sizable leap to 31.7, then 46.4, then last year edging above the 50-50 mark at 51 percent. In the meantime Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera were relievers elected to the Hall. Both obviously had greater careers than Wagner. With Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Curt Schilling no longer eligible for the BBWAA vote, Wagner had the third-highest vote percentage of players back on the ballot this year, behind Scott Rolen and Todd Helton. Rolen probably makes it Tuesday. Helton and Wagner probably not.

Wagner has some numbers that make him a very strong candidate. He is sixth on Major League Baseball’s career saves list with 422. The top three (Rivera, Hoffman, and Lee Smith) are all in the Hall. However, number four man Francisco Rodriguez is unlikely to come anywhere close in his first year on the ballot, and number five man John Franco (the only lefty with more saves than Wagner) didn’t even get five percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot, so was then dropped. Wagner’s career 2.31 earned average is stellar. In only one season of his career did Wagner have an ERA higher than 2.85 and in only one season did hitters combine for a batting average of even .220 against him. Both occurred in 2000 when Wagner was pitching with an unraveling elbow that needed season ending surgery. After returning in 2001 Wagner’s ERA over the remainder of his career was 2.13. Mariano Rivera’s career ERA was 2.21. Career OPS against: Rivera .555, Wagner .558. Wagner’s career WHIP (walks plus hits allowed per inning) is a hair lower than Rivera’s, .998 vs. 1.000.

One notable negative for Wagner is his low total of only 903 innings pitched in his career. Of the guys enshrined in Cooperstown primarily because of their work out of the bullpen, only Dennis Eckersley threw fewer relief innings, but he also had nearly 2500 innings as a starter. Among straight relievers, the late Bruce Sutter is next fewest above Wagner in innings pitched with 1042. One could argue that it's a small sample size and it shouldn’t impact a HOF vote. But if someone is splitting hairs: Wagner was bad in the postseason. A 10.03 earned run average over 14 appearances.

Wagner isn't the only former Astro on the ballot

It’s a notable ballot year for two other former Astros, both short-timer Astros. Carlos Beltran is in his first year of eligibility. Purely on the playing merits, Beltran is the only first year guy with a compelling Hall case. It will be interesting to see how many voters hold his notable role in the Astros’ cheating scandal against him. Jeff Kent is in his 10th and final year of eligibility. Kent has no chance, having gotten only 33 percent of necessary votes a year ago.

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Stone Cold ‘Stros is the weekly Astro-centric podcast I am part of alongside Brandon Strange and Josh Jordan. On our regular schedule it airs live at 3PM Monday on the SportsMapHouston YouTube channel, is available there for playback at any point, and also becomes available in podcast form at outlets galore. Such as:

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