COLLEGE REWIND

Saturday NCAA football recap: Tom Herman and the Longhorns stun West Virginia

UT and Tom Herman got an important win. Tim Warner/Getty Images

Rather positive week for college football in the Lone Star State. We take a look back at Texas colleges and schools of interest:

Texas 28, West Virginia 14

First-year coach Tom Herman and the Longhorns have a lot to be proud of after their 28-14 victory over No. 24 West Virginia on Saturday. The now bowl-eligible Longhorns beat a ranked opponent for the first time in five tries this season and qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2014. ”This was a big hurdle – to get another road conference win, to beat a top 25 team, and make sure our seniors are bowl eligible,” said Herman. “These guys are ecstatic.” Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger did not mess around, completing 12 of 19 for 136 yards and running for 68 yards.

TCU 27, Texas Tech 3

Rookie quarterback Shawn Robinson became the first true freshman to start for the Horned Frogs in all of coach Gary Patterson’s 17 seasons as head coach. After being held to a scoreless first quarter, the Horned Frogs shook off the jitters and began to really shine. In his first career start, Robinson ran for 84 yards and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Reagor to take a 17-3 lead late in the third quarter. Red Raider quarterback Nic Shimonek had a season-low 137 yards passing and was only 17 of 37.

LSU 30, Tennessee 10

On a stormy Saturday in Knoxville, LSU managed to beat Tennessee 30-10 while avoiding any turnovers. “I thought the storm fired them up,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron. “They were like little kids playing in the back yard. I was proud of them. "Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams ran for a combined 165 yards and three touchdowns for LSU. According to Orgeron, eliminating turnovers made the difference in the game for the Tigers. This loss for Tennessee came in the Volunteers’ first game under interm coach Brady Hoke after the firing of Butch Jones.

Old Dominion 24, Rice 21

Old Dominion quarterback Steven Williams led his team to victory, throwing for 188 yards and running for two scores, including the game-winning touchdown with 37 seconds left. An interception by ODU’s Sean Carter with 21 seconds left in the game sealed the win. This is the ninth straight loss for the Owls.

Iowa State 23, Baylor 13

The Cyclones broke their two-game losing streak with Saturday’s 23-13 victory over Baylor in Waco. On a pass from freshman Zeb Noland, senior Hakeem Butler made a highlight over-the-shoulder 67-yard catch-and-run score for the Cyclones in which he broke away from two defenders. Baylor has lost 10 games for the first time since going 1-10 back in 1999.

Arkansas State 30, Texas State 12

Arkansas State moves into a four-way tie atop the Sunbelt Conference with a 30-12 victory over Texas State on Saturday. Quarterback Justice Hansen threw for 229 and one touchdown for the Red Wolves.

Texas A&M 31, Ole Miss 24

Returning freshman quarterback Nick Starkel threw for 272 yards, leading the Aggies to a rallying 31-24 victory over Mississippi on Saturday. “We weren’t perfect,” said A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. “But our guys played really hard. I’m happy for them.” The Aggies took a 28-24 lead just after halftime thanks to a pick-six by Derrick Tucker. Starkel completed 19 of 32 passes and ran for a 1-yard touchdown for the Aggies. A&M’s Damion Ratley caught five passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.

Tulane 20, Houston 17

Tulane quarterback Jonathan Banks led his team to victory and threw for a career-high 251 yards to defeat the Houston Cougars 20-17. D'Eriq King rushed for 141 yards and passed for 225 in a losing effort.

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These next six games will be very telling. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

Houston has six games left in the 2022 regular season, two three-game series in which they need just one more win, or a Yankees loss, to secure the top seed for the AL side of the postseason bracket. They've accomplished what they set out to do over the 162-game drudge that is the regular season, so you're likely to see them use the opportunity to get some players off their feet in the remaining games.

Even so, having one of the best teams means that while putting out a lineup with some starters missing, they can still beat most teams on any given day. So then, what could that mean for the teams still vying for postseason spots or positioning in the remaining games?

Affecting the NL playoffs

It's a relatively sure bet that if they haven't locked up that top seed by the time they enter the final three games, they will before that last series is over. That means that when the Phillies come to Minute Maid Park to close out the season next week, Philadelphia will have much higher stakes in those games than Houston.

Under the expanded playoff format starting this season, the two best teams in each league receive a bye, while the remaining four teams square off in a Wild Card series, with all those games taking place at the better seed's stadium. That means teams will be very motivated to secure their best Wild Card positioning.

As of now, the Phillies hold just a half-game lead over the Brewers for the third and final Wild Card spot for the National League. Things could change this weekend, but whether they still lead or have fallen back and have ground to makeup, the games will matter to them against the Astros.

They also sit 2.5 games behind the Padres, meaning that Philadelphia could potentially be looking at a chance to jump into the second Wild Card spot. However, it's questionable if that's an envious position or not. With the juggernaut battle between the Mets and Braves coming down to the wire, with one team winning the NL East and a first-round bye and the other starting with home-field advantage in a Wild Card series, whoever gets the second Wild Card spot is going to be heading to face a really tough, and potentially angry, team on the road.

It will make things interesting for the Phillies when they face the Astros. They could be playing for their playoff lives or jockeying for position. Either way, the games will be meaningful.

Affecting the AL playoffs

There's a similar scenario at play for the American League side of things with the Astros' three-game series against the Rays this weekend. Just like the Phillies, the Rays enter the weekend holding on to the third and final spot in the AL Wild Card race.

Tampa Bay is only 0.5 games back of the Mariners for the second spot and two games back of the Blue Jays for the first Wild Card spot. Farther behind, the Orioles still have a chance for something crazy to happen, sitting five games behind.

So based on the result of their series with the Astros and how the other teams fare this weekend and in the final stretch of games, the Rays have a range of outcomes that could cause havoc in the AL bracket. They could end up taking the top Wild Card spot and hosting a series, traveling to face the Blue Jays, Mariners, or Guardians, or, less likely, missing the playoffs altogether.

This variance in positioning could have ramifications for the Astros directly in the ALDS round as well. The Astros are likely to be favored regardless of the three potential teams they face; however, some matchups would make things easier.

Houston went 2-4 against the Blue Jays this year and are currently up 3-0 on the Rays with the three games remaining in the season series. And while the Astros took the season series 12-7 against division-rival Seattle, that could give the Mariners all the more reason to be ultra-motivated for the ALDS if they faced the Astros.

So, while the Astros may not have any direct milestones to play for other than locking up their top seed, these remaining six games will have plenty of storylines and drama to follow for them and their opponent.

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