Bob­cats have pos­i­tives to build upon

De­fense shows progress with take­aways, TDS in clos­ing vic­tory.

Austin American-Statesman - - C SPORTS - By steve Ha­bel amer­i­can-states­man cor­re­spon­dent Texas State coach Dennis Fran­chione dealt with an im­pos­ing sched­ule. VALENTINO mauri­cio / FOR THE amer­i­can-states­man klyt­tle@states­man.com TONY ave­lar / ap Con­tact Kevin Lyt­tle at 4453615.

San Mar­coS — If there’s one spe­cific take­away for Texas State as the Bob­cats head into the off­sea­son af­ter their first cam­paign as an FBS team, it’s that its de­fense seemed to turn a cor­ner in the sea­so­nend­ing 66-28 win over New Mex­ico State.

The Bob­cats forced four turnovers and ran back two fum­bles for touch­downs in a span of less than two min­utes in the sec­ond quar­ter, help­ing turn a close game into a romp by half­time.

Those take­aways con­tin­ued a trend that be­gan on Nov. 24 against UTSA, when the Bob­cats nabbed three in­ter­cep­tions from a quar­ter­back that had thrown only one all sea­son.

One of Texas State’s fum­ble-re­turn touch­downs was by de­fen­sive end Jamie Clavel­lHead, who a week ear­lier, against UTSA, also had an in­ter­cep­tion.

“Ev­ery­one has been say­ing that our de­fense is this and that, but ... we def­i­nitely showed peo­ple what we are ca­pa­ble of and what we could really do,” Clavell-Head said. “It was im­por­tant for us to have th­ese de­fen­sive touch­downs and turnovers and stops. We just have to build off of the mo­men­tum as we look to 2013.”

Texas State fin­ished its sea­son 4-8. Still, there were plenty of pos­i­tives:

■ The Bob­cats beat Hous­ton on the road in the sea­son opener, earn­ing their first win over an FBS pro­gram since 2000.

■ Texas State played in front of record-set­ting crowds at Bob­cat Sta­dium, with four of the largest at­tended home games in school his­tory. The all-time stan­dard was set on Sept. 8 when 33,006 fans watched the Bob­cats play Texas Tech.

■ The Bob­cats played the tough­est sched­ule of any non-BCS con­fer­ence team in 2012 and their sched­ule ranked as tougher than all the teams of the BCS-el­i­gi­ble Big East Con­fer­ence ex­cept for Syra­cuse, ac­cord­ing to the fi­nal Sa­garin rank­ings.

Texas State’s sched­ule rated more dif­fi­cult than that of Florida State, North Carolina State, Rut­gers, Cincin­nati, North Carolina and Louisville.

Texas State played, and lost to, five teams that will play in bowls — Ne­vada, Texas Tech, San Jose State, Utah State and Navy — and an­other (Louisiana Tech) that was bowl-el­i­gi­ble.

“Our sched­ule needed to have 11 FBS schools, and we were a lit­tle at the mercy of who had open­ings be­cause sched­ul­ing is done so far in ad­vance,” Bob­cats coach Dennis Fran­chione said. “The sched­ule we played would have been chal­leng­ing for any FBS school, whether it was be­gin­ning its first year or play­ing in its fifth sea­son.”

Be­cause the WAC will no longer spon­sor foot­ball af­ter this sea­son, the Bob­cats will move to the Sun Belt Con­fer­ence for 2013. Texas State be­gins spring prac­tice ei­ther Feb. 23 or March 1 and will open its 2013 sea­son at South­ern Mis­sis­sippi on Aug. 31.

Three named Al­lWAC: Three Bob­cats were named to the All-WAC’s sec­ond team on Mon­day — tight end Chase Harper, line­backer Jo­plo Bartu and de­fen­sive back Dar­ryl Mor­ris.

Harper was Texas State’s sec­ond-lead­ing re­ceiver (28 catches, 315 yards, three touch­downs). Mor­ris’ four in­ter­cep­tions tied him for 23rd na­tion­ally. Bartu was the Bob­cats’ lead­ing tack­ler (95).

In the win over New Mex­ico State, Bartu had a ca­reer-high 17 tack­les. He also had 13 against UTSA and 16 ear­lier this sea­son against Navy and Louisiana Tech.

Bartu be­came Texas State’s top de­fen­sive player af­ter re­turn­ing to line­backer from de­fen­sive end, in which he started the first seven games and had 24 tack­les.

By Kevin Lyt­tle

Of all the mad­den­ing things about col­lege foot­ball’s post­sea­son, here’s the top­per: 70 bowl slots and not a sin­gle one of them went to a nine-game win­ner that is the na­tion’s high­est-scor­ing team.

There are a dozen 6-6 teams in bowls — and even one team with a los­ing record — but Louisiana Tech, 9-3 and av­er­ag­ing 51.5 points, did not make the cut.

A look at the most bizarre fall­out from Se­lec­tion Sun­day:

Louisiana Tech’s snub

It’s a con­vo­luted story that in­volves con­fer­ence tie-ins, a BCS sur­prise, mis­cal­cu­la­tions and mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

The Bulldogs, who were ranked for much of the sea­son and lost a 59-57 thriller to Texas A&M, had the mis­for­tune of play­ing in the West­ern Ath­letic Con­fer­ence, which is dis­band­ing and only had one guar­an­teed spot for its cham­pion (Utah State). So the Bulldogs didn’t have many folks look­ing out for them.

They had an in­vite, at one point, from the nearby In­de­pen­dence Bowl in Shreve­port, La., but Louisiana Tech of­fi­cials made the mis­take of think­ing their team had more in­trigu­ing op­tions in the Lib­erty and Heart of Dal­las bowls. When North­ern Illi­nois stun­ningly earned a spot in the BCS Or­ange Bowl, the domi­noes fell all the way down to mid-level bowls and Louisiana Tech’s op­tions van­ished.

By the time the Bulldogs got back to the In­de­pen­dence folks, that bowl had al­ready made its match: Louisiana-Mon­roe (8-4) vs. Ohio (8-4). You snooze, you lose.

“We were shocked that North­ern Illi­nois jumped into the BCS,” Louisiana Tech ath­letic di­rec­tor Bruce Van De Velde said Sun­day. “That led to a chain of events that dried up two other op­tions we thought we’d have.

“When you’re in a nonAQ con­fer­ence with­out many bowl tie-ins, this is what can hap­pen. But it’s es­pe­cially dis­ap­point­ing when bowls are elect­ing to take 6-6 teams over a 93 team.”

Bor­ing BCS matchups

How could it be that of the five ma­jor bowls, only the Notre DameAlabama BCS ti­tle game and the Ore­gon-Kansas State Fi­esta Bowl have any siz­zle? When your other three matchups are Wis­con­sin-Stan­ford, Louisville-Florida and North­ern Illi­nois-Florida State, the sys­tem is clearly bro­ken be­yond re­pair.

The Cot­ton (Texas A&M vs. Ok­la­homa), Chick­fil-A (LSU vs. Clem­son), Cap­i­tal One (Ge­or­gia vs. Ne­braska) and Out­back (South Carolina vs. Michi­gan) each have at least one higher-ranked team, and more in­ter­est­ing pair­ings, than those three BCS games.

If you’re go­ing to pick on the BCS rules that al­lowed North­ern Illi­nois’ en­try, then it’s only fair to ham­mer on the in­clu­sion of Wis­con­sin and Louisville. The No. 16 Huskies are ranked a lot higher than the No. 28 Badgers and No. 22 Car­di­nals.

The as­ter­isk bowl

Ge­or­gia Tech (6-7) needed a waiver from the NCAA to be in­vited to the Sun Bowl with a los­ing record. The Yel­low Jack­ets re­ceived spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion be­cause their sev­enth loss was in the ACC ti­tle game. How they got that far is an­other story since they fin­ished third in their di­vi­sion to North Carolina and Mi­ami, who have NCAA prob­lems.

In El Paso, Ge­or­gia Tech will face a 7-5 South­ern Cal team that was not only the pre­sea­son No. 1 but also had the Heis­man Tro­phy fa­vorite, Matt Barkley. Oh, how the mighty Tro­jans have fallen.

Tro­jans coach Lane Kif­fin says his star quar­ter­back, re­cov­er­ing from a sprained shoul­der, will play. Af­ter all, Barkley and USC didn’t get to play in a bowl game the past two years be­cause of NCAA sanc­tions.

Quar­ter­back Colby Cameron (10) and wide re­ceiver Quin­ton Pat­ton (4) are among the Louisiana Tech play­ers who will be stay­ing home this bowl sea­son.

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