Seven state football programs in national spotlight
The college bowl season is underway, and Christmas week features no less than six teams from Texas in action on the national stage.
The SMU Mustangs got things started on Christmas Eve with a 43-10 rout of Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl, a game that saw the Mustangs shut out Fresno State 22-0 in the second quarter alone.
On Thursday night, the 7-5 Baylor Bears take on UCLA at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. Many experts weren’t sure what to expect from Baylor in their first without Robert Griffin III. But Nick Florence took the reigns from RG3 and led the Bears to a 7-5 record. But Greg Koch of Sports Talk 790 says he thinks Baylor will have their hands full against the Bruins tomorrow night.
“I really like Coach Art Briles. However I don’t know if they go out to California and beat UCLA. I see Baylor struggling in this game,” Koch said.
FOX Sports college football analyst Charles Davis agrees with Koch. Davis thinks it will be tough for the Bears to score a win against UCLA.
“They got a lot to deal with in this bowl game. The UCLA Bruins are not the cuddly Bruins they’ve been the last few years.
Kickoff in San Diego is scheduled for 8:45
Red Raiders Visit Reliant
On Friday, the 7-5 Texas Tech Red Raiders will face Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas at Reliant Stadium. It will be the first game for the Red Raiders since coach Tommy Tuberville left in a surprise move for Cincinnati. Former Tech star Kliff Kingsbury has been hired to replace him, but Chris Thomsen will handle the club on Friday night. And Davis says Tech will come out playing like they’ve got something to prove.
“They will play well. They are tired of fading the last couple of seasons. To them, this is the first game of 2013,” Davis said.
And Koch thinks there will be a lot of people wearing red and black at Reliant Stadium on Friday night.
“There are a lot of Tech people here in Houston. People here love football. I think it’ll be a good turnout,” Koch explained.
Longhorns, Horned Frogs, Owls in action Saturday.
It’s a good bet that many college football fans around the state will be staying close to home on Saturday to watch bowl games featuring three Texas schools.
The Rice Owls closed the regular season out with five wins in their final six games, and their reward is a date against Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth. The Falcons have been trending in the opposite direction. After a 4-1 start, Air Force lost three of their last four games. Kickoff is set for 10:45 in the morning on Saturday.
About three hours away in San Antonio, the Alamo Bowl will kick off at 5:45pm featuring the 8-4 Texas Longhorns facing Oregon State. It’s been an up and down season for U-T, but Davis thinks the critics need to back off of Longhorns coach Mack Brown.
“I don’t think they are as far away as some would believe. It’s eight wins. The problem is who they’ve lost to and the type of losses they’ve had,” Davis said.
The Longhorns announced they will go back to David Ash as the starting quarterback for the game against the Beavers. Ash had lost his starting job earlier this season. Koch thinks a program like Texas needs to know who their quarterback is.
“For a great program like U-T not to find that big time quarterback is just strange to me,” Koch explained.
And the final game on what will be a busy Saturday for the Texas schools will be the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Arizona. The TCU Horned Frogs, who went 7-5 in their first season in the Big 12 will face Michigan State in what Koch thinks will be an entertaining matchup.
“Michigan State is a very good football team, but so is TCU. And I think TCU plays in the better conference,” Koch said.
Davis is somewhat surprised at what Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs have been able to do in their first year in a new conference.
“They’ve exceeded expectations. Look for TCU to grow and build. I think they’ll be a force in the Big 12 for years to come as long as they keep Gary Patterson as their head coach.
Kickoff on Saturday night is set for 9:15.
The Main Event
Not many around Texas A&M were thinking that the Aggies would go 10-2 before the season started. And not many were thinking that redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel would wind up becoming the hottest thing in college football, winning the Heisman Trophy earlier this month.
But the Aggies did collect ten victories this season, including an upset of then top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa last month. And ‘Johnny Football’ did win the Heisman Trophy. Davis says Manziel deserves all the accolades he’s been getting, but don’t forget about first year coach Kevin Sumlin.
“I knew he was terrific, but I thought 10-2 was a lot to ask for given that he had an unproven quarterback,” Davis said.
Koch was surprised by how the Aggies have performed this year as well
“Did I think they would do what they’ve done? I never envisioned it, and I don’t think many A&M fans did, either” Koch explained.
And A&M’s reward for their breakout season is a date in the Cotton Bowl a week from Friday against an old rival from the Big 12, the Oklahoma Sooners. Koch doesn’t see the Aggies having an easy time against Landry Jones & Company.
“I think Oklahoma should win this game. But then again with A&M this year, you can’t predict anything,” Koch said.
Davis thinks Oklahoma will play this game with something to prove.
“Oklahoma feels like for the first time in a long time that they are the team people are overlooking,” Davis said.
The Cotton Bowl is set for a 7pm kickoff on Friday, January 4th.