Bobcats have positives to build upon
Defense shows progress with takeaways, TDS in closing victory.
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.