SATURDAY COLLEGE RECAP

Saturday NCAA Football Recap: Houston appears deflated and Texas bounces back

University of Texas football coach Tom Herman
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Texas punishes Rice with a blowout and Houston can't find its mojo. Here's a look at what happened in the Lone Star State and with LSU:

Washington State 31, Houston 24

In similar fashion to last week, Houston struck early, but failed to secure the win in the second half. Houston's wonder kid quarterback, D'Eriq King has been a shell of himself since Dana Holgorsen took over the program. "I thought our kids played hard and gave ourselves a chance," Holgerson said of his team. "Just came up a little short." King threw for 128 yards passing and 94 yards rushing and two touchdowns to put Houston up 14-7 at the half. Unfortunately, the offensive momentum from the first half did not carry into the second, which was riddled with unforced turnovers and costly errors, contributing to Houston's loss. Houston struggled to move the ball in the second half, lost two fumbles and only scored once after halftime. King seemed to have scored on a 72-yard run late in the third quarter but it was stymied by a textbook holding call on sophomore receiver Jeremy Singleton. While WSU beat Houston 31-24 on Friday night, both teams had a combined 209 yards of penalties on Friday night, something they'll need to address before conference play begins next week. Aside from the sloppy second half, possibly the most frustrating part of this loss is Holgorsen's soft reaction to it. "We don't want moral victories or any of that ... we didn't play good enough to win," Holgorsen said. "Didn't make enough plays and the ball didn't bounce our way enough for us to come out of here with a win and that needs to happen next week." Senior WSU receiver Brandon Arconado finished with 308 yards on 23 receptions and a score to help WSU to victory. Anthony Gordon led WSU's charge over Houston, finishing 36-of-48 with 440 yards and three touchdowns. Houston opens AAC play at Tulane on Thursday.

Texas A&M 62, Lamar 3

Quarterback Kellen Mond did his part to help the 16th ranked Aggies to a lopsided win 62-3 win over Lamar on Saturday, throwing for 317 yards, a touchdown, and a scoring run. Sophomore running back Isiah Spiller ran for 116 yards and two touchdowns for the Aggies, ensuring there was no drop-off after taking over for Jashaun Corbin who sustained a season-ending hamstring injury last week. A&M coach Jimbo Fisher recognizes enormous growth in Spiller, despite the new featured back only playing in three games. "There's a lot put on him and the expectations for what he's doing," said Fisher. "He's having to fill some big shoes for us and what we lost and the way things are going. He's a very smart, talented young man and he's doing a really good job. Very mature for his age." Expect A&M to hold their poll position after taking care of business against an un-ranked opponent. A&M opens SEC play against No. 8 Auburn next Saturday.

LSU 65, Northwestern State 14

At first glance it appears No. 4 LSU easily handled Northwestern State but coach Ed Orgeron was forced to leave quarterback Joe Burrow in longer than planned after a more competitive first half from NWST than expected. Burrow capitalized on the highlight reel opportunity, completing 21 of 24 passes for 373 yards and two touchdowns as LSU put away NWST 65-14 on Saturday. This is the second time Burrow has been subbed out early due to a lopsided score this season. The star quarterback is now 75-of-90 passing for 1,122 yards and 11 touchdowns in LSU's first three games. Look for LSU to remain within the top five based on the Tigers final margin of victory. LSU opens SEC play next Saturday against Vanderbilt.

Texas 48, Rice 13

Sam Ehlinger threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns, leading the 12th ranked Longhorns to an easy 48-13 rebound victory over Rice. The Longhorns started fast and clicked in every phase of the game after losing at home to LSU last week. "Any type of game where you win after a loss is huge," Ehlinger said. "For us to come out and play to our standard, continue to prove to ourselves that when we work really hard and play to our standard, it is hard for people to beat us is great." Keaontay Ingrahm rushed for 74 yards and two scored for Texas after being held to just 29 yards on 10 carries last week. Expect Texas to hold its position after a blowout win over Rice. Texas hosts Oklahoma next Saturday to open Big 12 play.

TCU 34, Purdue 13

The Horned Frogs boasted an unstoppable running game, racking up 346 rushing yards on 58 carries as TCU beat Purdue 34-13 on Saturday night. Darius Anderson was in peak form, rushing for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. "Darius is running better now than I've seen him since he was a sophomore," TCU coach Gary Patterson of the senior running back. TCU had 160 yards rushing on 28 attempts in the first half while Purdue was held to minus-1 on 12 attempts. The Horned Frogs host SMU on Saturday.

Arizona 28, Texas Tech 14

Arizona ran the ball right down the Red Raider's throat 13 straight times during a 99-yard drive in the fourth quarter that ended with Gary Brightwell barreling into the end zone for his second touchdown, sealing the Wildcat's 28-14 win over Texas Tech Saturday night. Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate threw for 185 yards, one touchdown, and carried it in for another score. Texas Tech opens its conference play at Oklahoma on 9/28.

Sam Houston 47, Texas State 17

The Mustangs bolted out of the gate against and never let up in SMU's 47-17 victory over Texas State on Saturday. Mustang quarterback Shane Buechele was 14-of-18 passing with two touchdowns on 219 yards. Texas State hosts Georgia State next Saturday night.

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against the A's. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

The Astros need to whip up on the Oakland A’s this weekend in California as they did in sweeping four from them last week at Minute Maid Park. That was the start of a homestand which ended up with seven wins in 10 games. That goes down as a successful homestand, especially since it felt like the Astros’ prior winning homestand came while Donald Trump was President (it actually started in late July). Still, 7-3 doesn’t feel like a smashing success with it ending by dropping two of three games to the lowly Los Angeles Angels.

It is not exactly with bated breath that anyone should be waiting on Jose Abreu’s return to the lineup, but it’s coming. It should not be on this road trip. After the three games with the A’s the Astros move up the coast for a big four game set with American League West leading Seattle. The M's start all right-handed pitchers. That is no time to sit Jon Singleton to see if Abreu has managed to pump a few drops of gas into his tank while spending the better part of this month at the Astros’ minor league complex. It’s not as if Singleton has been stellar since Abreu’s departure, but by comparison, he’s been Lou Gehrig-esque. The series with the Mariners isn’t make or break but the Astros are strongly advised to get at least a split. That it should be Framber Valdez starting the opener Monday night doesn’t breed tremendous confidence, coming off his meltdown outing against the Angels. Another start, another opportunity.

The Mariners are at the Nationals this weekend, starting it a mere four and a half games ahead of the Astros. In four of the five other divisions the Astros' 22-28 record would have them at least 10 games off the lead.

One step forward, two steps back

Speaking of washed-up first basemen, Joey Votto should be a future Hall of Famer. The 40-year-old Canadian is trying to make it back to the big leagues via the minor leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays. Votto was an absolutely tremendous player with the Cincinnati Reds. As the Beastie Boys said, “Ch-check it out.” Over Jeff Bagwell’s first ten seasons with the Astros he hit .305 with a .417 on-base percentage and .552 slugging percentage, yielding a phenomenal .970 OPS. Over Votto’s first ten full seasons with the Reds: .313/.429/.540 for an exactly phenomenal .970 OPS. Where am I going with this? Read on!

Votto had phenomenal strike zone and bat control. He turned 30 during the 2013 season. That year Votto had 581 at bats. He popped out to an infielder once the entire season. Alex Bregman turned 30 the third day of this season. Bregman popped out to the shortstop four times in the Angels series. So much for Bregman’s “knob past the ball” epiphany that saw him hit three home runs over two games last week. Going into the weekend Bregman has one hit in his last 23 at bats. His season stats continue to be pitiful: a .209 batting average and .607 OPS. Bregman has only struck out once in the 23 at bats of his latest deep freeze. It’s that so much of his contract is feeble. There is a lot of season left for Bregman to build up to decent numbers, but one-third of the regular season will be complete after the Astros play the Mariners Monday night.

While Bregman’s season to date has basically been one long slump, Jose Altuve is in a funk of his own. Since blasting a homer Monday, Altuve is hitless in 12 at bats. Mini-slumps happen to everybody but Altuve’s woes trace back farther. Over his last 15 games, Altuve is batting .175. He last had more than one hit in a game May 5. He’s also drawn just two walks over those 15 games. It’s tough to ever sit Altuve, but he’s probably playing a little too much. Altuve turned 34 earlier this month. He has started 48 of the Astros 50 games at second base. Mauricio Dubon should be getting a start per week at second (and probably another at third given Bregman’s level of play). Over a full season not playing the field once per week still means 135 starts. Altuve should mix in some more at designated hitter (he has just one DH game so far this season). Wear and tear is a real thing, players don’t grow less susceptible to it as they get to their mid-30s.

King Tuck

On the flip side, Kyle Tucker! So far this season, he’s making himself as much money as Bregman is costing himself. Only Shohei Ohtani (1.069) starts the weekend action with an OPS higher than Tucker’s 1.060. The law of averages dictates that Tucker won’t finish as high as 1.060, but if he does, it would be the greatest full-length season offensive performance in Astros’ history. Jeff Bagwell posted an absurd 1.201 OPS in the strike-shortened 1994 campaign. Yordan Alvarez came in at 1.067 in his 87 games played rookie season of 2019. Lance Berkman’s 2001 was a monster. Enron Field was more hitter-friendly then than Minute Maid Park is now, but Berkman’s numbers were “Oh My Gosh!” spectacular. .331 batting average, 55 doubles (second in franchise history to Craig Biggio's 56 in 1999), 34 homers, .430 on-base percentage, .620 slugging percentage, and 1.051 OPS. And that was just Berkman’s second full season in the majors. Lance finished fifth in National League Most Valuable Player Award voting. Giant-headed Barry Bonds won MVP with his 73 home runs among other sicko stats.

* Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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