Saturday NCAA Football Recap: Texas secures a winning season; Baylor and LSU destroy opponents

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Navy 56, Houston 41

Jamale Carothers rushed for career highs of 188 yards and five touchdowns for No. 24 Navy and the Midshipmen beat Houston 56-41 on Saturday. Houston receiver Marquez Stevenson collected 133 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches and receiver Tre'von Bradley caught three passes for 99 yards and a touchdown for the Cougars. Houston quarterback Clayton Tune threw for 393 yards, a career-high four touchdowns and four interceptions. The Cougars finished 4-8, the worst record since finishing 3-8 in 2004. "We didn't give up on the season," Dana Holgorsen said. "We didn't quit coaching. We didn't quit practicing. We didn't quit preparing. We didn't quit playing. Ever. Not in 12 games." Houston's season is over and hopefully the program makes coaching adjustments before the 2020 season.

LSU 50, Texas A&M 7

Joe "Superman" Burrow padded his Heisman resume with 352 yards-passing and three touchdowns in No. 1 LSU's 50-7 highlight-reel victory over Texas A&M on Saturday night to close out their first unbeaten regular season since 2011. "I thought it would just be an awesome tribute to the state, to the university," said Burrow of the name on his jersey reading "Burreaux," a spelling that evokes Louisiana's Cajun heritage. "It's been awesome not only for me, but for my family as well. ... I'm going to miss it with all my heart and I couldn't be more grateful." Star receiver JaMarr Chase racked up 197 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches for the Tigers. Chase's touchdowns built on the school record the Biletnikoff Award finalist broke two weeks earlier. Burrow has 4,366 yards and 44 touchdowns this season, destroying LSU single-season records in both categories and surpassing the SEC yards passing total which stood since 1998. "They kicked our butts," Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said. "LSU's offense is outstanding." Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond completed just 10-of-30 passes for 92 yards and was intercepted three times by the Tigers defense. LSU faces off against Georgia in the SEC championship game on Saturday and the Aggies await their bowl invitation.

Texas 49, Texas Tech 24

Longhorn quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw two touchdowns, ran for another score and Texas secured a winning season with a thrilling 49-24 win over Texas Tech on Friday. "We all know this is not where we hoped we would be to begin the season, but to send these seniors out (with a win) that was our mission," Texas coach Tom Herman said. "Nothing that happened prior to this week mattered." The Longhorns were down 14-0 in the first quarter before Ehlinger struck back with his first rushing touchdown in five games. The resilient quarterback finished with 348 passing yards and ran for 83 yards on 10 carries. Texas began the year ranked in the Top 10 and was badly tripped up in the second half of Herman's third season, yet avoided December pressure by guaranteeing a winning record regardless of what happens in the bowl season. The Red Raiders season is concluded and Texas awaits its bowl destination.

Baylor 61, Kansas 6

Running back JaMycal Hasty ran for three touchdowns, the Bears forced six Kansas turnovers and Baylor cruised to a 61-6 victory over the lowly Jayhawks on Saturday. Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer threw for 182 yards and one touchdown as the Bears matched the school record for wins. Only three times since Baylor's football program was founded in 1899 has the team won 11 games in a single season. "I'm really proud of them not just today but over the past two years, the process that they've had, the toughness, the grind," said Rhule. No. 11 Baylor now has a chance to avenge its only loss this season in a rematch against No. 7 Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.

West Virginia 20, TCU 17

Sophomore quarterback Isaiah Esdale made an impossible over-the-shoulder 35-yard touchdown catch with 2:10 left, barely getting his feet inside the pylon and West Virginia closed out the regular season with a 20-17 win on Friday that kept TCU from becoming bowl eligible. The game-winning drive by West Virginia was extended by a pass interference call on a fourth down, and then TCU defensive back Ross Blacklock was ejected for a targeting hit on a third-and-12 incompletion. "Can't give ballgames away. ... Can't keep drives alive with personal fouls. Plain and simple," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "Only a few times in my life, since I've been here, that we've lost when I've held people under 300 yards. And that's happened twice this year." The Horned Frogs are not bowl-eligible for just the third time in Patterson's 19 seasons as head coach. Freshman quarterback Max Duggan finished 15-of-36 passing for 144 yards with two interceptions for TCU. The Horned Frogs open the 2020 season at California on September 5.

Costal Carolina 24, Texas State 21

Quarterback Bryce Carpenter completed 10-of-11 passes for 114 yards and a score and the Chanticleers beat the Bobcats 21-24 on Saturday. Texas State quarterback Tyler Vitt led Texas State on a nine-play, 71-yard scoring drive to get the Bobcats within three points but Costal Carolina recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock. Vitt finished 23-of-33 passing for 285 yards and two TDs with one interception for the Bobcats, who lost their final three games.

Rice 30, UTEP 16

Running back Ashton Walter ran for a touchdown and a career-best 149 yards and Rice beat UTEP 30-16 on Saturday in its season finale.

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The Astros are back in action on Friday. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

The Astros couldn’t have slammed the door on their fellow American League West contenders this week, but they didn’t have to open the door a bit wider for the Rangers and Mariners. The odds didn’t favor the Astros losing two out of three at home to the woeful Oakland A’s, but que sera sera. That extends the drama about who wins the division. Should the Astros wind up not winning it, their confounding mediocrity at Minute Maid Park this season will be a remembered culprit. A 38-37 home mark simply is not title-worthy. However, their 45-27 road mark certainly is, and they need to tack on several more wins to it, starting with this weekend’s three game set at pathetic Kansas City. At 46-101 the Royals sit a half game worse than the A’s in the “chase” for the worst record in Major League Baseball.

In feebly losing the first two games to Oakland the Astros didn’t choke against the A’s. They merely stunk and were outplayed. It happens. The offense was snuffed in the first loss, Justin Verlander got lit up in the second. That’s not choking, it’s failing. Even had the Astros not salvaged the last game and instead been swept, it wouldn’t have meant they choked. Did the Rangers choke last week in Arlington? Or was it the Astros playing tremendously and kicking the crap out of them three in a row? The concepts aren’t mutually exclusive, but it was much, much more about the Astros putting on a dominant display. The A’s just plain beat the Astros Monday and Tuesday.

As pitiful as the A’s are, they still win more than 30 percent of their games. The Astros are obviously not a great team, they lose more than 40 percent of their games. The won-loss percentage gap between the good and the dregs is much smaller in MLB than it is in the NFL and NBA. It’s just how the sports are. Unless Patrick Mahomes was injured or suddenly retired beforehand, the Texans beating the Chiefs two out of three is inconceivable. The A’s taking two of three from the Astros was surprising and for Astros’ fans exasperating and perhaps a bit unnerving, but it should not have been shocking to anyone. Hence, it would be shame on the Astros if they go into K.C. with any sort of “We’re great on the road, the Royals are lousy, we got this.” mentality.

Credit to the Rangers for responding from the beatdown the Astros put on them. After that the Rangers lost a series opener to the A’s last Friday and were really teetering. They haven’t lost since, taking two from Oakland and then rolling to a four game sweep of a huge series at Toronto. The Mariners meanwhile rebounded from dropping two of three at the crummy Mets and the first of a series with the also-ran Angels to win their last two. So here we are. The Astros enter the weekend one half game ahead of the Rangers (tied in the loss column with the Astros owning the tiebreaker) and a game and a half ahead of the Mariners (one better in the loss column but the Mariners own the tiebreaker). The Rangers are at Cleveland this weekend. Business is business, so if you’re an Astros fan choke down that bile for a “Go Dodgers!” weekend with the Dodgers in Seattle for three. To start next week the Astros are back home (uh oh!) for three vs. the outstanding Orioles, the Rangers are home for the playing out the string Red Sox, the Mariners get three at Oakland.

After that it is fabulously beneficial to the Astros that the Rangers and Mariners have seven head-to-head meetings over the season’s final 10 games. That guarantees that either the Rangers or Mariners lose at least four of them, which makes it highly likely that the Astros at least snag a Wild Card unless the Astros reeeally falter. While the natural focus is on winning the West again, should the Astros falter and finish behind both the Rangers and Mariners, they are not out of the woods from missing the playoffs completely. They are three games ahead of Toronto, though the Blue Jays hold the tiebreaker over the Astros. The Jays’ final 15 games are all within the AL East: six vs. the Rays, six vs. the Yankees, three vs. the Red Sox).

The Astros have virtually no shot at finishing with the best record in the AL. That will belong to the AL East winner, Baltimore or Tampa Bay. The Rays took the opener of a four game series in Maryland Thursday night to get within one game of the Orioles. Just one win gives the Orioles the season series tiebreaker.

Until things are settled, every game is critical, but none more so than the Astros’ three at Seattle September 25-27. Dusty Baker and staff have tweaking to do with the starting rotation if Verlander and Framber Valdez are to make starts in that series. Valdez goes this Sunday in Kansas City. He needs to jump ahead of J.P. France’s turn Friday at MMP vs. the Royals so Framber can have four days rest ahead of starting the series finale against the Mariners the following Wednesday. That would also have Valdez available on three days rest for the regular season finale at Arizona, should game 162 be critical. Verlander’s next scheduled turn is Monday vs. Baltimore. His next start after that should be the following Monday in the opener in Seattle. So the decision needs to be made whether Verlander is better off pitching Monday and not again until the following Monday, or pushing his start vs. the Orioles to Tuesday.

When it comes to the Astros, nobody has you covered like SportsMapHouston!

Stone Cold ‘Stros is the weekly Astro-centric podcast I am part of alongside Brandon Strange and Josh Jordan. On our regular schedule a first video segment goes up about 4PM Monday on the SportsMapHouston YouTube channel, with the complete audio available in podcast form at outlets such as:

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