Saturday NCAA Football Recap: Things are looking up in Texas

It was a tough day for Kliff Kingsbury and Tech. Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

A Major victory for for the Houston Cougars. Taking a look back at the highs and lows for Texas colleges:

Houston 28, South Florida 24

How ‘bout them Cougars! Coach Major Applewhite and the Houston Cougars soared to new heights with their dazzling win over No. 17, South Florida. The Cougars offense got off to a sluggish start but came alive in the second half, contrary to what last week’s game might have lead one to believe was possible. Sophomore D’Eriq King entered the game early and soon thereafter began making crucial contributions to the the Cougar offense. Arguably, the most significant of which was a game-winning 20-yard touchdown run to to end South Florida’s historic winning streak.  South Florida did not seem themselves while hosting Houston in Saturday night’s match.

Iowa State 14, TCU 7

Defense wins games: The Iowa State defensive line was impenetrable against the Horned Frogs in Saturday’s matchup which left the Big 12 without an undefeated team. TCU remained scoreless until the third quarter but that was their only score of the game.

Oklahoma 49, Texas Tech 27

Tech got off to a promising start, scoring 20 points in the first quarter over OU’s 14, but it appears OU found their step in the second quarter. OU quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 22 passes totaling 281 yards and four touchdowns as he led his team to victory over the Red Raiders.

Texas 38, Baylor 7

It should come as no surprise that Texas beat bad Baylor. The trajectory of this game could be seen during the first minute: DeShon Elltiott intercepted a pass by Baylor quarterback Zach Smith and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown. Longhorn coach Tom Herman admitted his team is being carried by the defensive side of the ball, but insists it is all a part of his plan. Demonstrably growing and learning from each game, this young Texas team has the potential to really shake things up for college football the rest of the season.

Mississippi State 35, Texas A&M 14

A “frustrating” game against Mississippi State, according to Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. The Aggies took a physical beating and lost their third game of the year.

Louisiana Tech 42, Rice 28

Louisiana Tech dominated the field from start to finish in Saturday’s game in Houston, scoring 14 points in the final minute in this 42-28 win over Rice.

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Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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