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Saturday NCAA Football Recap: Big wins around the Lone Star State in Week 12

Tom Herman and the Longhorns are rolling. Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Longhorns prove they’ve got the juice and Houston makes a comeback. Here’s what happened around the Lone Star State.  

Houston 48, Tulane 17

The Houston Cougars entered the game against Tulane on Thursday hoping to rebound from their only home loss suffered at the hands of Temple last week. Quarterback D’Eriq King completed 11-of-15 passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for an additional 82 yards for the Cougars as they cruised to a 48-17 victory over the Green Wave. King was injured later in the game and was on the sideline with crutches during the second half. It was later determined that King will be miss the final game of the season against Memphis next week. Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver missed his fourth straight game due to a knee injury sustained against Navy on Oct. 20, and was not in uniform against Tulane. Before heading into the locker room at the half, Oliver was angry and shouting at Houston head coach Major Applewhite and did not return for the second half. Applewhite later told reporters that Oliver was reacting to being told he was not permitted to wear a heavy coat on the sideline because they were reserved for active starters. Quarterback Clayton Tune entered the game for King in the second half and added two touchdown passes for the Cougars.

Texas A&M 41, UAB 20

Despite their blowout win over UAB on Saturday, Aggie Coach Jimbo Fisher wasted no time in talking about the improvements his team needs to make to be successful against LSU next week. "You're never where you want to be," Fisher said. "We'll never be where I want to be. It doesn't matter if we win `em all. I will never be where I want to be. We've got to get better. Good enough is never good enough and we've got to keep pushing and fighting because everybody's going to come at you." Junior running back Trayveon Williams was nothing short of amazing, running for 167 yards and two scores on 20 carries, leading the Aggies to a 41-20 victory over UAB.

LSU 42, Rice 10

Quarterback Joe Burrow threw for a career-high 307 yards and two touchdowns, leading No. 10 LSU to an easy 42-10 victory over Rice on Saturday evening. This loss marks the 11th straight loss for the Owls. "For the confidence of this offense, it was important for us to click tonight," Burrow said. "We wanted to move the ball without any hesitation or road blocks. For the most part, I think we did that." Rice was simply overmatched. The Owls played a decent game in which they committed no turnovers and three penalties. 

Texas 24, Iowa State 10

After squandering a 17-point lead last week and barely skating by with the win over Texas Tech, the No. 13 Longhorns showed their yearning to make it to the Big 12 title game with their 24-10 victory over Iowa State on Saturday night. "We're overachieving right now. We're winning on toughness. We're winning on grit," Texas coach Tom Herman said. "Coming from where we came from and where this program was... we've still got a lot of football left to play." As a person who witnessed Texas blow a 17-point lead last week, I wound not go as far as to say the ‘Horns are “overachieving,” but not even I, a Longhorn critic by birth, can not argue the greatness of quarterback Sam Ehlinger. The only question that remains is: Will Ehlinger’s throwing shoulder hold up? The sophomore quarterback threw for a touchdown and ran for another before departing the game after a hard hit in the second quarter. Second-string quarterback Shane Buechele took for the injured Ehlinger for the second time this season and guided the Longhorns to a win.

TCU 16, Baylor 9

Oh how the mighty have fallen. TCU never fails to disappoint and barely winning over a bad Baylor team was no different. Granted, they are down to their third quarterback and last scholarship running back so I’ll cut them a break. Gutsy playmaker Jalen Reagor should certainly be credited with this win for the Horned Frogs. Reagor got the go-ahead score after sophomore running back Emari Demercado took a direct snap and tossed to the sophomore Reagor who had a wide open lane to the end zone with two minutes left in the third quarter. "That was a gutsy win," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "Want to know what kind of heart and what this program is about, you just need to watch that ball game. There wasn't any reason why we should have won." The 16-9 loss to the Horned Frogs kept the Bears from becoming bowl eligible in their home finale. 

Kansas State 21, Texas Tech 6

Texas Tech was held to an unusually low 181 yards in their 21-6 loss to K-State on Saturday. "I was really proud of our defensive players, our coaches. Pretty special," said K-State coach Bill Snyder "Regardless of the win, the real effort of how we played was special." The 79-year-old Snyder, who some believe could retire after this season, dodged all questions related to his future with the Wildcats. Sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson finished 17-of-26 with 213 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Wildcats. 

Troy 12, Texas State 7

Kicker Tyler Sumpter nailed four field goals for the Trojans on Saturday, leading them to a 12-7 victory over Texas State. Troy faces Appalachian State next Saturday for the chance to host the inaugural Sun Belt Conference game. 

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Good news for Jose Altuve. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

One never knows how things will play out but of the known General Manager candidates, Jim Crane nailed it in hiring Dana Brown out of the Atlanta Braves' organization where he was Vice President of Scouting. The 55-year-old Brown's scouting and development pedigree is stellar. The Braves have been a talent-producing machine in recent years. Obviously all the credit isn't Brown's but his four years with the Braves preceded by a productive pipeline he was part of in Toronto speak highly of him. Not that it was or should have been the guiding principle to Crane's decision-making, but the Astros now have the only African-American General Manager in Major League Baseball (Ken Williams is Executive Vice President of the Chicago White Sox).

Brad Ausmus is a super-smart guy, but if had he gotten the GM gig it would have been in large part because he was teammate besties with Jeff Bagwell. While “It's not what you know it's who you know” plays a role in many, many hires, it would have been a poor rationale for tabbing Ausmus. Maybe Ausmus would have done a great job. Maybe Brown does a lousy job. Brown was the much more strongly credentialed candidate. While Bagwell has moved way up Crane's confidante list, Brown played college baseball with Craig Biggio at Seton Hall.

Speaking of Halls…

If I could tell you as absolute fact that exactly two members of the 2023 Houston Astros will someday make the Baseball Hall of Fame, who are you picking? Jose Altuve isn’t a lock just yet but he is obvious pick number one. So for the second spot are you going with Alex Bregman or Yordan Alvarez? We’ll get back to this a couple of paragraphs down.

As was basically a given, former Astro (and Phillie, Met, Red Sox, and Brave) Billy Wagner was not elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week, but as I suggested last week the voting returns were very favorable toward Wagner making the Hall next year, or if not next year in his final year of eligibility on the Baseball Writers Association ballot for the Class of 2025. “Wags” in the Class of ’24 is looking good. Wagner jumped from 51 percent to 68 percent “put him in” votes. The only guy this year to get the necessary 75 percent for election is worthy third baseman Scott Rolen. Two years ago Rolen got 53 percent of the votes needed, last year 63 percent, before getting the call to Cooperstown with 76.5 percent this year. Wagner going from 51 to 68 to 75-plus looks likely. Of course it’s not as if Wagner can pad his case with a good 2023 season, but this is how the process works. The other ballot returnee well positioned to make it next year is former Colorado first baseman Todd Helton. Unlike this year there’s a sure-fire first time ballot guy going in next year. Third baseman Adrian Beltre will undoubtedly wear a Texas Rangers cap on his plaque.

As expected Carlos Beltran didn’t come close to election in his first year of eligibility, but drawing 46 percent of the votes sets him up well to eventually get the Cooperstown call. Beltran was a fabulous player and his Hall credentials are solid. However, no one reasonable would argue that Carlos Beltran was as good or better than Barry Bonds. In his first year of eligibility back in 2013 Bonds garnered 36 percent of the vote. There has been some turnover in the voter pool over the last decade, but it's clear that Beltran’s central role in the Astros’ sign stealing scheme was not held against him to the extent that PED use (actual and/or suspected) was held against Bonds and Roger Clemens. And Alex Rodriguez. And Sammy Sosa. And Manny Ramirez. And others. Foremost right now that’s encouraging for Beltran, but it’s also encouraging down the line for fellow Astros of 2017-18.

What does this mean for Jose Altuve?

If Jose Altuve retired today (perish the thought!) he’d have a good case for the Hall. He had superstar seasons in 2016, 2017, and 2022, and has five other seasons that while not in the realm of his three best certainly rate as excellent. If you judge a player by his five best seasons, there aren’t 10 second basemen in the history of the sport who’d rank ahead of Altuve. Among those who clearly would: Joe Morgan, Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, and Nap Lajoie. Among those four only Morgan played more recently than 1937. Then there’s a group of arguable guys like Jackie Robinson, Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar, and yes Craig Biggio. Altuve has had the prime of a Hall of Famer. What sort of final numbers will he accrue? In late May or early June he should reach the 2000 hit plateau. How many more prime years does Altuve have left before inevitable decline? His career batting average is .307. Four years ago it was .316. Will Altuve retire a .300 hitter?

Bregman or Alvarez? Bregman gets extra points for being an everyday third baseman as opposed to a left fielder-designated hitter, but by age alone Yordan is the better play. Bregman turns 29 on opening day this year. Yordan doesn’t turn 26 until late June. When Bregman was 25 (2019 season) he put up a season more valuable than Alvarez’s tremendous 2022. In the three years since Bregman hasn’t approached that level, though his big second half last season could be a springboard back to that stratosphere. Yordan is in that stratosphere and figures to stay there for a while if his health holds up.

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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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