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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?

###

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 loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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