The state of Texas has five bowl teams this year and has a pretty damned good shot at going 5-0 as of right now. I doubt I would have written that two weeks ago, but you'll have to forgive me questioning the notion of Rice and UH both winning bowl games this year, since it has never happened before.
TCU played a tough game against Boise State and came out on top in the Poinsettia Bowl 17-16 on December 23rd. A nation sat on edge as this brilliant street-fight transpired two days before Christmas in San Diego. As we enter 2009, TCU is the 3rd best program within the state and it isn't even close to those programs behind it. They make it to bowls year-in and year-out and they play well with virtually everyone they face. Patterson did a great job of taking the handoff from Little Franny Franchione and turning them into a perennial top 25 club. The victory over a top 10 team without a previous loss was well-earned.
Rice bludgeoned Western Michigan about the head and shoulders with a tire iron. Their 38-14 victory last night in the Texas Bowl was a long time coming. Like 54 years coming. The Rice story doesn't get any play nationally, although Richard Justice gave them a decent write-up in the Chronicle today. My father played at Rice and so I've always had a bit of a bias in rooting for them, but how in the hell can you not if you're an honest college football fan? This is one of the smallest schools in the country for D-1. The school does its best not to emphasize athletics. What Wayne Graham did for Rice baseball, Todd Graham started for Rice football. I think that that guy is a complete wizard and deserves more interest from the big schools than he gets. David Bailiff, while doing a very solid impersonation of a younger Buddy Hackett, did little else to impress me as a hire when he succeeded Graham. He had a special group to work with offensively and he helped them get where I never thought they'd go. Rice should be a solid little program, even without the institution's full support. There are plenty of bright, excellent high school players within the state that Rice can and should bring in.
UH carried the mantle today and beat a decent Air Force team in the Armed Forces Bowl, 34-28. UH was handed the title of "Nation's longest bowl losing streak" from Notre Dame recently and they did get job of shaking it quickly. Sumlin is an up and coming guy. He recruits well, we knew that from his time at OU and ATM. His offensive strategies are also underrated. The UH offense was borderline prolific at times this year and they will continue to get better. UH is another school that should be winning much more than it does. Yes, UH is a commuter school, but the athletic programs have dorms on campus and should be able to recruit pretty well. There is a deep reserve of recruitable talent in Houston and the Golden Triangle as well as East Texas that won't all be going to Texas, LSU, or OU. They should be getting more of it than they do, and I am rooting for that. If they recruit well, they're harming OSU, ATM, Arkansas, and other schools we might either play or care about loathing more than UH. The primary problem with UH is its 73 fans. They've got no real concept of their place in the college football hierarchy and it gets tiring to listen to one when they're good, on the off chance you happen to find one. Unfortunately in Houston, Matt Jackson is a huge fan and he does the afternoon show on 610am with Rich Lord. I actually like the guy a lot until he starts calculating UH among the ranks of the college football and basketball elite. This usually occurs for several days after each win, today included. Oh well, at least he's honest in his bias and has passion. I may sound like an entitled, arrogant Texas fan when taking this position in regard to the UH fanbase, and that's pretty much because I am.
If Texas Tech can hold up its end of the deal against Ole Miss, Texas has a chance of putting the state at 5-0 for the bowl season. After Masoli made Oklahoma State smell his balls across their nose last night, I am done counting on the Big 12 in general to exhibit any supremacy this bowl season. Booger Daniel and Pinkel limped to a win over the lifeless Big 10 corpse that was Northwestern. Dez Bryant's injury stunted OSU's shot against a mediocre Pac 10 team. Do we really believe that Oklahoma has a chance to slow Florida? Big Game Slob will lay an egg again and then Bradford will declare to the NFL, or declare war against the US Government for the 1/16th Cherokee Nation and the state of Oklahoma. Kansas may or may not beat Minnesota, someone will have to inform all of us at some point when that comes across the wire. Maybe Nebraska beats Clemson. How elusive can Dabo Sweeney and those underachieving cheaters be? That will put the conference at 5-2 at best, with a blowout in the national title game. Not great.
For Tech to beat Ole Miss, someone is going to have to grab Mike Leach and shake him very hard, and help him understand that there is a game to be played. At the same time, someone familiar with the dark arts or voodoo or hypnotism needs to convince Graham Harrell through sorcery that this is actually a home game, at night, apparently. If that comes together, Tech should roll. Ole Miss has a secondary comprised of Ervis Hill, Jordan Peterson, Tony Holmes, and John Holmes. Jevan Snead will face as much pressure as he's seen all year. I don't know if Tech covers the double digits, but they should win this game. Tech is now firmly entrenched as the number 2 team within the state. That is a damned impressive accomplishment for Mike Leach and the program. I almost feel somewhat bad for them not making a BCS game, but then I remember most of their fans, who can all go to hell on a shutter after chasing a loose coed off of a west Texas cliff. And really, f Mike Leach in the face for voting the way he did. Moving on...
That leaves Texas versus Ohio State to finish the state's efforts at 5-0. That match-up will be covered ad nauseum here and elsewhere over the next week, so no need to do much here. I do think a mudhole is perhaps in order, although we'll see if the handwringing over the next day or two continues to escalate with some of the ladies here.
It's funny to think about the possibility of a 5-0 bowl record for the state this year and ATM isn't even in the discussion. Actually, that might be appropriate. Were they involved with the bowl season, I guess we wouldn't be looking at the chances for an undefeated bowl season either. You can have one or the other, really, but not both. The reality is that Baylor is probably a bowl team next year and ATM will actually be worse than they were this season. How far that program plummets is anyone's guess, but when they finally finish swirling around the toilet and go down the drain, I am hoping rock bottom smells like 30 years hovering around 3-9.
A final note on the current state, literally, of Texas football, think about the various D-1 coaching staffs in place right now. Is there a program with a worse shot at getting on the right path with the current staff than ATM? SMU has June Jones, and they'll be fine. Briles is good at Baylor, although he sucks out loud for his voting behavior as well. Price at UTEP knows what he's doing and has already won there. There are 5 bowl teams right now that are better. Perhaps the Todd Dodge experiment at North Texas is a worse effort than Sherman at ATM.
The only other big time state with a shot at a really good record this bowl season is Florida. They are 3-1 with Florida yet to play. Oklahoma, incidentally, is 0-1 and my money is on an 0-3 finish. They are effectively a state of losers and always will be, of course.
One other thing about this bowl season in regard to Texas is the play of the state produced Texas QBs. With Snead and Harrell playing each other, we'll definitely see 1 loss, but with McCoy, Stafford, and Reesing having decent shots at wins, the QBs could go 8-1 this year. That too is pretty cool.