Huddle up! Here’s a look back at this weekend on the gridiron, with three key takeaways from the state’s football scene -- and a glimpse at what’s to come next week.
Longhorns are in, now set sights on winning national title
Ever since losing to Oklahoma in October, it seemed like a big uphill climb for Texas to get back in the College Football Playoff picture.
But the Longhorns managed to make that climb, throttling Oklahoma State in the Big 12 title game and getting just enough help to get a spot in the College Football Playoff, where it will meet Washington in the Sugar Bowl.
The Longhorns rightfully feel they have as good of a shot as anyone to win the national title, but unbeaten Washington will present some problems that Texas will have to navigate through.
First and foremost, Washington has an NFL-type of passing attack. Quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. is a future NFL quarterback who throws to a stable of future NFL wideouts in Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk. It will be the biggest test of the season for the Texas secondary.
The Huskies also showed they can stand up physically along both lines in a win over Oregon in the Pac-12 title game.
Many thought Oregon would control things up front, but it was Washington who won the line of scrimmage, particular when its offensive line give Penix plenty of time. The strength of the Texas’ defense, the defensive line, will have to be the strength again.
Finally, Washington has been a fourth-quarter team. In its last five games, Washington has given up a total of just 17 points. Texas will have to be good finishers if it’s to advance to the national championship game in Houston.
Other state teams learn bowl fate
While all eyes will be on the Longhorns in the College Football playoffs, other in-state teams will appear in bowl games before the New Year. Here are the bowl games involving state teams:
- Texas Tech will play California in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 16
- UTSA will play Marshall on Dec. 19 in the Frisco Bowl
- Texas State and Rice will meet in the First Responder Bowl on Dec. 26
- Texas A&M will play Oklahoma State in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 27.
Texans stay on playoff track, but suffer key injury
The Houston Texans earned a monumental 22-17 home win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, which was almost like winning two games because the Texans (7-5) now own the tiebreaker over the Broncos (6-6) for a playoff spot should the teams be tied at the end of the year.
Unfortunately, the win didn’t come without a price.
Rookie wideout Tank Dell was carted off of the field with what was later determined as a fractured fibula and was placed on injured reserve. Dell will likely miss the rest of the regular season.
Dell could be healthy enough to come back for the playoffs, but of course, the Texans have to get there first now without him.