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A weekly look at all things Houston sports from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority: Is UT vs. A&M a real possibility?

Could the Longhorns be coming to Houston to face the Aggies? Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

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The closer it gets, the more we wonder.

Could we see the state’s biggest rivalry renewed in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl?

Yes, we’re talking Texas versus Texas A&M.

Have your attention?

Inquiring minds have been turning this one over for a while now, but we can thank USA TODAY for throwing it out there as an honest-to-gosh prediction for the Dec. 27 matchup in NRG Stadium.

The prognosticators have been working overtime this week, trying to come up with their best logical matchups for the holiday bowl games – even the College Football Playoffs which hang on this weekend’s games, including the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Big 12 Championships.

So many possibilities, so many upset-minded teams. It’s been that kind of season. Just look at Alabama’s fall from the top last week or Miami’s tumble from No. 2.

A number of teams in the state of Texas will be playing in bowls, but could that possible Texas-A&M matchup in Houston be more than just an interesting thought?

The Texas Bowl, after all, matches a Big 12 team against a Southeastern Conference team. Texas and A&M fill those spots and are right down the road from Houston.

“We would certainly welcome the chance to host these 2 great institutions if the opportunity presented itself,’’ said David Fletcher, Executive Director of the Texas Bowl.

“That’s a game that resonates well beyond the football field and would really be outstanding for the fans and for our community.” 

The rivalry that lasted 118 years, the one that’s incorporated into the Aggie War Hymn, ended in 2011 when Texas’ Justin Tucker, now the Baltimore Ravens’ kicker, nailed a 40-yard field goal as time ran out to give Texas a 27-25 wild win in College Station.

It was a fitting end to a rivalry that began in 1894 in Austin with a 38-0 Texas win and became a Thanksgiving tradition. But even though A&M headed off to the SEC, the talk of renewing the rivalry that spanned decades in the Southwest Conference and the Big 12 never really died.

Both teams had disappointing seasons. The 6-6 Longhorns lost four games they could have won in Tom Herman’s first year, while the 7-5 Aggies ended their season by firing Kevin Sumlin and are searching for a coach.

If they do wind up meeting in the Texas Bowl, the Longhorns and Aggies could be playing in front of a record crowd. The two schools have the two largest alumni totals in the city and Herman went 22-4 in two seasons as the Houston Cougars’ head coach before heading to Austin.

It’s a great thought, but, honestly, it’s doubtful it will happen.

The athletic departments at the two schools haven’t tried to revive the rivalry in the regular season, so the idea they would agree to play each other in a bowl is, well, just one of those intriguing thoughts that meander through our brains. USA TODAY’s prediction just made us think a little harder.

It’s much more likely that if Texas is chosen to go against an SEC team, the Longhorns’ opponent would be an LSU or Mississippi State. And A&M? The Aggies might be headed to Nashville for the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.

Then again, everything could change with this weekend’s games.

But it was fun to think about that rivalry matchup for a few minutes, wasn’t it?

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Today is the last day for the public to submit nominations for the inaugural Houston Sports Awards. You can nominate in any of 10 categories, including Athlete of the Year, High School Athlete of the Year, Moment of the Year, Coach of the Year and Event of the Year. Go to www.houstonsportsawards.com

Also, you can now purchase tickets for the 2018 Houston Sports Awards Golden Ticket Raffle. Each ticket gives you a chance to win a pair of season tickets to all Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo, Rodeo Houston & Houston Open home games/events during the 2018-19 season. In addition, the winner receives tickets for two Houston Texans home games, the 2018 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff and the 2018 Texas Bowl. Information is available at www.houstonsportsawards.com




 

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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