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Saturday NCAA football recap: Quite the rough week for Texas schools… Except Houston

D'Eriq King had a monster game for UH. Tim Warner/Getty Images

After a winning Week 8 for college football in the Lone Star State, Week 9 is filled with disappointment and need for improvement. Here’s how it all went down:

Houston 57, South Florida 36

Don’t sleep on the Cougars! In what was arguably the greatest game of his career, Houston quarterback D’Eriq King completed 28-of-41 passes for 419 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 134 yards and two more scores in Houston’s 57-36 victory over No. 21 South Florida on Saturday. The seven total touchdowns set a career high for the star quarterback. King and the Cougar offense beat South Florida in the air and on the ground. Six Houston rushers ran for a combined 265 yards and the Cougar defense proved themselves capable of making stops and forcing turnovers without Ed Oliver. Oliver missed the first game of his career Saturday with a bruised right knee suffered after what appeared to be a chop block hit in last week’s 49-36 victory over Navy. Houston receiver Marquez Stevenson had six receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns and receiver Jeremy Singleton caught five passes for 125 yards and one touchdown. The Cougars won their fifth straight game totaling a season-high 684 yards on offense.

West Virginia 58, Baylor 14

Yikes. After suffering a gut-wrenching 30-14 loss to unranked Iowa State last week, No. 13 West Virginia bounced back with a blowout 58-14 win over Baylor on Thursday night. "We finally played a complete game for four quarters," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. Quarterback Will Grier led the Mountaineers in what is arguably their top offensive performance with 353 yards and three touchdowns. Grier had two touchdown pitches to receiver David Sills and ran for a score during a 31-point second quarter, putting the Mountaineers up 41-0 at halftime. Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer was replaced by Jalan McClendon in the second quarter after throwing three interceptions during a scoreless half. "I didn't see it coming," Baylor coach Matt Rhule said. "I thought our defense hung in there early, as the offense had some uncharacteristic turnovers."

Oklahoma State 38, Texas 35

After back-to-back abysmal performances against Iowa State and Kansas State, some people called for quarterback Taylor Cornelius to be pulled from the starting roster for Oklahoma State. Cornelius rebounded in a major way, completing 23-of-34 passes for 321 yards, three touchdown passes and two running scores. "Corn Dog's a tough guy, he's a competitor," said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy of Cornelius. "He's got a good demeanor, he's tough, he's unselfish, the team loves him. He was good tonight. He needed to come back and do well." Sophomore receiver Tylan Wallace had 10 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns for the Cowboys in their 38-35 win over the sixth-ranked Longhorns on Saturday. Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger returned from a shoulder injury to his throwing arm suffered in the Longhorns win over Baylor last week. Ehlinger struggled in the first half, completing only two of his first eight passes for 29 yards in the first quarter of the game, and was just 5-of-15 for 108 yards at the half. Ehlinger found his rhythm in the second half and finished 22-of-42 passing with 283 yards and two touchdowns. "Extremely proud of the way that our guys fought in the second half," Texas coach, Tom Herman said. "When we pulled to within three with 11 minutes left, I don't think there was any doubt in anyone's mind on that sideline that we were going to win the game. But we didn't, and we didn't play our best down the stretch."

Iowa State 40, Texas Tech 31

Given the way they have been exposing opponents on both sides of the ball, it seems Iowa State has a point to prove. Tech quarterback Alex Bowman was forced into a safety with 4:39 left after he fumbled the snap, retrieved the ball and threw it away with his foot in the end zone. Bowman’s two point mistake was just the spark the Cyclones needed to rally and beat the raiders 40-31 on Saturday. Freshman quarterback Brock Purdy led the charge offensively for the Cyclones, completing 13-of-27 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns, including a 48-yard TD pass to Hakeem Butler late in the fourth quarter.

Mississippi State 28, Texas A&M 13

The Nick Fitzgerald we saw last week against LSU is a stark contrast to the Nick Fitzgerald that led the Bulldogs to a 28-13 win over sixteenth-ranked Texas A&M on Saturday. Fitzgerald threw for 241 yards, two touchdowns and ran for two more scores, giving Mississippi State the offensive boost it needed to bounce back from a miserable loss to LSU. "I'm happy for every single person in our program, but I'm most happy for that kid, because he deserves it," Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead said. "That's the way we expect Fitzgerald to play." The surprisingly efficient passing offense for Mississippi State started on the opening drive. Fitzgerald completed 6-of-7 passes for 59 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown toss to Stephen Guidry, putting the Bulldogs up 7-0. Aggie quarterback Kellen Mond was just 23-of-46 passing for 232 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Aggies took a 10-7 lead just before halftime but several dropped passes and a strong Bulldog defense kept the Aggies scoreless in the second half with the exception of a field goal. "We had anywhere from seven to 10 drops off the top of my head and you just can't do that," Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. "It changes the whole dynamic of what you can do. It has a cumulative effect."

Kansas 27, TCU 26

After a back-and-forth game that went down to the wire, Kansas handed TCU its third straight loss on Saturday, beating the Frogs 27-26. Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender finished with 249 yards passing and two touchdown passes to Pooka Williams Jr., leading the Jayhawks to just their second Big 12 victory under embattled coach David Beaty.  "It's awesome for everybody, all the stuff we've gone through, all the stuff that's been said, all the naysayers," Jayhawks linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. said. "It's nice to get a win."

North Texas 41, Rice 17

Running back DeAndre Torrey stole the show on Saturday, rushing for 130 yards and four scores as North Texas breezed to a 41-17 victory over Rice. Junior quarterback Mason Fine was 18-for-35 with 333 yards and two touchdowns for the Mean Green.

Texas State 27, New Mexico State 20

Texas State quarterback Willie Jones III threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score, leading the Bobcats to a 27-20 victory over New Mexico State Saturday night.




 

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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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