WHO: No. 20 LSU (8-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
WHAT: The 10th AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
WHERE: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
WHEN: 9:00 p.m. ET, Dec. 29 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Through the first two months of this college football season it looked as though LSU might be on the run to an SEC title and a top spot in the College Football Playoff behind a Heisman Trophy runaway favorite in Leonard Fournette., That championship dream derailed in Tuscaloosa in early November and struggled to recover from the wreckage. Fournette’s Heisman hopes and expectations were tossed to the side as LSU was handed a loss in three straight SEC games by Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss before finally ending the season with a win against Texas A&M. The win against the Aggies also proved to be a revival of sorts for head coach Les Miles, who managed to keep his job amid growing speculation he was as good as cooked in Baton Rouge.
Texas Tech turned in a solid season under Kliff Kingsbury using that signature Texas Tech air-raid approach. Texas Tech was second in the nation in passing yards per game (389.7 ypg, trailing only former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and Washington State), Patrick Mahomes passing for 4,283 yards and 32 touchdowns. The Red Raiders ranked second in the nation in points per game as well, putting up 46.6 ppg this season. As has historically been the case for the program though, the defense has not held up its end of the bargain far too often to take Texas Tech as a serious threat. Texas Tech allowed an average of 42.6 yards per game and is 126th against the run, allowing 271.83 yards per game on the ground. That just spells out a nightmare scenario for the Red Raiders, who must now stop one of the nation’s most productive running backs.
LSU’s running game should be the key factor here. Texas Tech can’t stop the run and LSU thrives on it. LSU is also hoping to avoid falling out of the top25 in the major polls. A loss to Texas Tech would likely assure LSU a second straight season ranked outside the top 25 at the end of the season, and that hasn’t happened since Gerry DiNardo was the head coach in 1998 and 1999. The following year, LSU hired Nick Saban and things worked out pretty well from there.
THE PREDICTION: LSU 38, Texas Tech 27
With LSU and Texas Tech preparing for the upcoming AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl in Houston, the Tigers and Red Raiders had some competitive fun in an annual rodeo series of events. One popular rodeo event? Chasing cows. LSU’s star running back, Leonard Fournette, wanted to give it a shot, but his head coach, Les Miles, apparently was no on board.
Texas Tech running back Jakeem Grant did reportedly give the cow chasing a try, and Fournette wanted to see what he could do. Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes was not witnessed participating in any of the rodeo events either.
Fournette figures to be in for a huge performance against Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl. Only two teams in the nation had a run defense allow more yards per game than Texas Tech, which likely means Fournette should pile up some big numbers. With that being the case, you can imagine why Miles wanted to make sure his top offensive player avoided any event that might cause even the slightest injury concern that would prevent Fournette from running.
For just the second time since 1998, the Texas Longhorns will not be going to a bowl game this season. A home loss to Texas Tech sealed a winless season for the Longhorns, leaving them at the mercy of a waiting list to get in if they happen to pull a stunner against Baylor in the season finale to go 5-7 and hope there are bowl vacancies to be filled. In other words, don’t count on it. The fate of the Longhorns this season may have been expected for weeks or months, but the final nail in the coffin may be have delivered by a Texas Tech trick play that saw Jakeem Grant sneak down the left sideline and dodge a couple of defenders on his way to a 40-yard touchdown, which would prove to be the game-winning score.
Up 41-38, Texas Tech forced a Texas turnover on downs at the 40-yard line of the Longhorns with 2:51 to play. Despite Texas having a couple of timeouts to spare, Texas Tech appeared to line up in a victory formation. Perhaps inspired by the fumblerooski, Kliff Kingsbury had his offense set in a formation that would make it difficult to tell which player had the football until it was too late. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes dropped back deep and appeared to fake a hand-off on his way. Meanwhile, Grant was running with the ball to the left side of the field and found daylight. In the blink of an eye, Texas Tech expanded its lead to 48-38.
Texas still found a way to make Texas Tech sweat it out though. Daje Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 42-yards and received an extra 15-yards due to a facemask penalty to the Red Raiders special teams unit. Two plays later, Chris Warren III ran eight yards for a touchdown. On Texas Tech’s final possession of the game, there would be no tricks. After Texas was forced to burn each of its two remaining timeouts, Texas Tech set up in a true victory formation for the final two plays of the game as the clock expired and Texas saw its postseason eligibility expire in sync.
This will mark the second straight losing season in Austin for the Longhorns after Texas lost a bowl game last season to end the season at 6-7. The last time Texas had back-to-back losing seasons was in the old Southwest Conference with David McWilliams as the head coach. Texas had consecutive losing and bowl-less seasons in 1988 and 1989. But at least Texas made an appearance in the AP Top 25 in those disappointing seasons. The Longhorns have now gone two straight seasons without appearing in the top 25 for the first time since 1986 and 1987.
A total of 17 of the nation’s top quarterbacks have been named a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award Monday by the Davey O’Brien Foundation. One of a handful of individual awards tailored for quarterbacks, the Davey O’Brien Award is the nation’s oldest of its kind. This year’s semifinalists include some familiar names as well, including Michigan State’s Connor Cook, TCU’s Trevone Boykin and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott. All three were named semifinalists last season (Boykin and Prescott would later be named finalists). It also includes a handful of passers from the Group of Five, including Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. and Navy’s Keenan Reynolds out of the American Athletic Conference and Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson (MAC) and Brandon Doughty of Western Kentucky (Conference USA).
Oregon’s Marcus Mariota took home the award last season, becoming the first Pac-12 player to win the award since UCLA’s Troy Aikman won the award in 1988. The Pac-12 has some good candidates on the list of semifinalists again this season as well.
2015 Davey O’Brien Award Semifinalists
- Trevone Boykin (TCU)
- Connor Cook (Michigan State)
- Brandon Doughty (Western Kentucky)
- Luke Falk (Washington State)
- Jared Goff (California)
- Kevin Hogan (Stanford)
- Matt Johnson (Bowling Green)
- Cody Kessler (USC)
- Paxton Lynch (Memphis)
- Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech)
- Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
- Dak Prescott (Mississippi State)
- Keenan Reynolds (Navy)
- Josh Rosen (UCLA)
- Seth Russell (Baylor)
- Greg Ward Jr. (Houston)
- Deshaun Watson (Clemson)
Look out Baylor and TCU, because No. 12 Oklahoma State (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) might just have an offense that can keep pace and shock you. The Cowboys outlasted Texas Tech (5-4, 2-4 Big 12) in a wild shootout in Lubbock, leaving town with a 70-53 victory.
Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington had quite the monster performance, catching four passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. With over 1,200 yard of offense between these two Big 12 programs, Washington was not alone in having a big game in the box score.
Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph had himself a 285-yard performance. Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes had 480 yards and four touchdowns, but two interceptions. The second interception came in the final minute of the game, with Oklahoma State’s Ramon Richards returning it 59 yards for a touchdown to pad the final score. Red Raider receiver Jakeem Grant had 179 receiving yards and 146 kick return yards, including a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Four different players attempted a pass for Oklahoma State, with J.W. Walsh, Austin Hays and Chris Carson each getting a chance to move the ball through the air.
Oklahoma State now prepares for a brutal backend to the Big 12 schedule with a home game against TCU next week. The Horned Frogs get a couple of extra days to prepare for the game after knocking off West Virginia on Thursday night. Following the home game against the Frogs, Oklahoma State visits Iowa State and then hosts Baylor and Oklahoma to close out the 2015 regular season. The Cowboys have a difficult road, but the path is still pretty clear to a Big 12 title if they can score some wild wins down the stretch.
Texas Tech’s final games are the polar opposite it would seem, at least compared to Oklahoma State’s schedule. The hardest games are likely behind for the Red Raiders. All that remains for Texas Tech are a road game at West Virginia, a home game with Kansas State and a season-ending road game in Austin against the Texas Longhorns. Texas Tech could be looking at a huge end to the season, even if a Big 12 title is out of reach.