Saturday NCAA Football Recap

Texas colleges - but not Texas - dominate in Week 1

Jimbo Fisher is off to a fast start. Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Week 1 saw some expected victories and a few surprises from the Lone Star State:

Houston 45, Rice 27

Trailing 24-17 at the half, it was apparent the Cougars thought they were playing the same team they destroyed in the Bayou Bucket last year. They were not. The Owls dominated the first half but D’Eriq King and the Cougars rallied in the second half for their 45-27. King ran 4 yards in the third quarter, then completed scoring passes of 57 yards to Marquez Stevenson and 18 yards to Courtney Lark. Stevenson displayed dazzling speed in his first game after being out last season due to injury. Patrick Carr included a 37-yard touchdown run to seal the deal for the Cougars in their season opener against their city rivals. It is worth mentioning Aaron Cephus caught a few impossible passes with impeccable situational awareness for the Owls throughout the game on Saturday.

A&M 59, Northwestern State 7

In their season opener, the Northwestern State Demons were simply outmatched against the Aggies. However, NW State quarterback Clay Holgorsen completed 9 passes for 105 yards and one touchdown which should translate to more success when they play other FCS schools. As for the Aggies, they had little trouble in Jimbo Fisher's debut as head coach.

TCU 55, Southern 7

As expected, No. 16 TCU dominated both sides of the field in their 17th consecutive home opening victory. The Horned Frogs were favored to win, obviously, but with their second quarter touchdown, the Jaguars became the first SWAC team to score against TCU.

Maryland 34, Texas 29

Tom Herman had an entire game to prove he could outcoach a team with no coach and somehow the Longhorns still came up short. Maryland dedicated its season to their fellow Terrapin, Jordan McNair, who tragically died of heatstroke during the offseason. Freshman receiver Jeshaun Jones ran for a score, threw for a score, and caught a 65-yard touchdown pass, playing a pivotal role in Maryland’s victory. Interim coach Matt Canada was full of pride during his post-game interview. “I just can't say enough about our players, everything they've been through and the way they stuck together,” Canada said. The Terrapins came to play but the Longhorns essentially beat themselves. In addition to three turnovers, Texas committed 10 penalties for 102 yards.

Rutgers 35, Texas State 7

“It’s been three years to get here,” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said on starting with a win for the first time in his tenure. Running backs Raheem Blackshear and Jonathan Hillman had two touchdowns apiece, leading Rutgers to their 35-7 win over Texas State.

Mississippi 47, Texas Tech 27

Mississippi racked up more than 500 yards in the blowout of Texas Tech on Saturday. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns, leading Ole’ Miss to their 47-27 victory over Tech

Baylor 55, Abilene Christian 27

The Bears snapped their eight-game home losing streak in their 55-27 win over Abilene Christian on Saturday evening. Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer and Jalan McClendon threw for a combined 311 yards, leading the Bears to victory.


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Good news for Jose Altuve. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

One never knows how things will play out but of the known General Manager candidates, Jim Crane nailed it in hiring Dana Brown out of the Atlanta Braves' organization where he was Vice President of Scouting. The 55-year-old Brown's scouting and development pedigree is stellar. The Braves have been a talent-producing machine in recent years. Obviously all the credit isn't Brown's but his four years with the Braves preceded by a productive pipeline he was part of in Toronto speak highly of him. Not that it was or should have been the guiding principle to Crane's decision-making, but the Astros now have the only African-American General Manager in Major League Baseball (Ken Williams is Executive Vice President of the Chicago White Sox).

Brad Ausmus is a super-smart guy, but if had he gotten the GM gig it would have been in large part because he was teammate besties with Jeff Bagwell. While “It's not what you know it's who you know” plays a role in many, many hires, it would have been a poor rationale for tabbing Ausmus. Maybe Ausmus would have done a great job. Maybe Brown does a lousy job. Brown was the much more strongly credentialed candidate. While Bagwell has moved way up Crane's confidante list, Brown played college baseball with Craig Biggio at Seton Hall.

Speaking of Halls…

If I could tell you as absolute fact that exactly two members of the 2023 Houston Astros will someday make the Baseball Hall of Fame, who are you picking? Jose Altuve isn’t a lock just yet but he is obvious pick number one. So for the second spot are you going with Alex Bregman or Yordan Alvarez? We’ll get back to this a couple of paragraphs down.

As was basically a given, former Astro (and Phillie, Met, Red Sox, and Brave) Billy Wagner was not elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week, but as I suggested last week the voting returns were very favorable toward Wagner making the Hall next year, or if not next year in his final year of eligibility on the Baseball Writers Association ballot for the Class of 2025. “Wags” in the Class of ’24 is looking good. Wagner jumped from 51 percent to 68 percent “put him in” votes. The only guy this year to get the necessary 75 percent for election is worthy third baseman Scott Rolen. Two years ago Rolen got 53 percent of the votes needed, last year 63 percent, before getting the call to Cooperstown with 76.5 percent this year. Wagner going from 51 to 68 to 75-plus looks likely. Of course it’s not as if Wagner can pad his case with a good 2023 season, but this is how the process works. The other ballot returnee well positioned to make it next year is former Colorado first baseman Todd Helton. Unlike this year there’s a sure-fire first time ballot guy going in next year. Third baseman Adrian Beltre will undoubtedly wear a Texas Rangers cap on his plaque.

As expected Carlos Beltran didn’t come close to election in his first year of eligibility, but drawing 46 percent of the votes sets him up well to eventually get the Cooperstown call. Beltran was a fabulous player and his Hall credentials are solid. However, no one reasonable would argue that Carlos Beltran was as good or better than Barry Bonds. In his first year of eligibility back in 2013 Bonds garnered 36 percent of the vote. There has been some turnover in the voter pool over the last decade, but it's clear that Beltran’s central role in the Astros’ sign stealing scheme was not held against him to the extent that PED use (actual and/or suspected) was held against Bonds and Roger Clemens. And Alex Rodriguez. And Sammy Sosa. And Manny Ramirez. And others. Foremost right now that’s encouraging for Beltran, but it’s also encouraging down the line for fellow Astros of 2017-18.

What does this mean for Jose Altuve?

If Jose Altuve retired today (perish the thought!) he’d have a good case for the Hall. He had superstar seasons in 2016, 2017, and 2022, and has five other seasons that while not in the realm of his three best certainly rate as excellent. If you judge a player by his five best seasons, there aren’t 10 second basemen in the history of the sport who’d rank ahead of Altuve. Among those who clearly would: Joe Morgan, Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, and Nap Lajoie. Among those four only Morgan played more recently than 1937. Then there’s a group of arguable guys like Jackie Robinson, Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar, and yes Craig Biggio. Altuve has had the prime of a Hall of Famer. What sort of final numbers will he accrue? In late May or early June he should reach the 2000 hit plateau. How many more prime years does Altuve have left before inevitable decline? His career batting average is .307. Four years ago it was .316. Will Altuve retire a .300 hitter?

Bregman or Alvarez? Bregman gets extra points for being an everyday third baseman as opposed to a left fielder-designated hitter, but by age alone Yordan is the better play. Bregman turns 29 on opening day this year. Yordan doesn’t turn 26 until late June. When Bregman was 25 (2019 season) he put up a season more valuable than Alvarez’s tremendous 2022. In the three years since Bregman hasn’t approached that level, though his big second half last season could be a springboard back to that stratosphere. Yordan is in that stratosphere and figures to stay there for a while if his health holds up.

Can't get enough Astros coverage?

Stone Cold ‘Stros is the weekly Astro-centric podcast I am part of alongside Brandon Strange and Josh Jordan. On our regular schedule it airs live at 3PM Monday on the SportsMapHouston YouTube channel, is available there for playback at any point, and also becomes available in podcast form at outlets galore. Such as:

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