Texas winning Saturday is both the worst and best for the Big 12

If the Longhorns are truly back, it has great longterm implications for the Big 12. Short term? Not so much. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The University of Texas holds the immediate and long-term future of the Big 12 in its hands on Saturday. Not bad for a university that's underperformed to their standards for almost a decade. 

It's simple, really. Texas wins, they're back, and the Big 12 has to realize the burnt orange powerhouse is going again. If the Longhorns lose, well, then the Big 12 can win a national title this year. Both can't happen. 

A win for Tom Herman and company would be the signature win in his short time at the helm of the program. He's likely been disappointing to most in his time at Texas. He's had three really ugly losses, two to Maryland and one to Texas Tech last year, but he's played good teams close. Last year's Texas team loses to USC and to TCU but this year's team handled both of them. Herman turned in the fourth overall recruiting class last year and is on schedule for a top class again. 

There is steam and a win against Oklahoma would show, truly for the first time in the Herman era, Texas is back. A win over the Sooners would also keep them in the hunt for a Big 12 title as well. If you think Texas can beat Oklahoma, they can beat West Virginia at home. Having the burnt orange machine back would be a great development for the conference. Two legitimate title contenders year in and year out hasn't been the case in the Big 12 for a long time. Knowing the winner of the Red River Rivalry game has a shot at the national championship each year is something the conference luminaires have to have been dreaming about. 

Now, about those national title hopes. Texas winning would be a disaster for the Big 12 this year. Oklahoma has the only true shot to make the playoff out of the Big 12. West Virginia and the Sooners play in the final week of the regular season and if both are undefeated they will rematch a week later for the Big 12 championship. Now, the Mountaineers may beat the Sooners once but they aren't beating them two weeks in a row, especially with the championship game in Arlington. So it rests on the Sooners and the Sooners alone because one-loss Oklahoma is out of the picture. So would one-loss Texas and West Virginia. So only undefeated Oklahoma can represent the Big 12 and Texas could ruin all that Saturday. 

Regardless of the outcome. Texas back or Oklahoma still alive for a title, Saturday feels like a big-time matchup again. It feels like the game matters more than just a rivalry game. There are conference-wide and nationwide ramifications from the Texas State Fair this weekend. It's been a while since we could say that. Now, which do you want to see? Texas back or Oklahoma's title hopes to stay alive. 

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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