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Team Alert


Coaches to Discuss Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl in Conference Calls Today

HOUSTONOklahoma State and Texas A&M have accepted bids to play in the 2019 Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl. Oklahoma State will represent the Big 12 Conference and Texas A&M will represent the Southeastern Conference. The 2019 Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl will be played on Friday, Dec. 27, at 5:45 p.m. CT at NRG Stadium. The game will air on ESPN and ESPN Radio, as well as locally on SportsRadio 610 (KILT-AM).

“We are thrilled to announce the 2019 Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Texas A&M Aggies, two excellent institutions from the Big 12 and SEC,” remarked Board Chair June Deadrick. “The Bowl has grown into one of the largest annual events in our community and we’re excited to welcome these teams to Houston. We look forward to hosting the teams and their passionate fan bases for a festive bowl week of Texas-themed events that will culminate at NRG Stadium on Friday, December 27.”

This will be the first time Oklahoma State and Texas A&M have met in a bowl game since the 1981 Independence Bowl, where the Aggies defeated the Cowboys 33-16. The two programs have played each other 27 times, and Texas A&M currently leads the series with a 17-10 record. Oklahoma State and Texas A&M first met in 1913 when Oklahoma State won 3-0. Their last meeting occurred in 2011 when the Cowboys came out on top, 30-29.

Ticket prices for this game range from $35-$200 and may be purchased online at or, on the phone at 832-667-2390 or in person at the NRG Stadium box office inside Bud Light Plaza. Special group packages are available by calling 832-667-2390. Fans can also call 832-667-2160 for more information on suites and premium hospitality. To date, nearly 50,000 seats have been sold for the 2019 game.

The 2019 Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl will mark Oklahoma State’s first appearance, and the school’s first time back in Houston since 2002. The No. 25 ranked Cowboys became bowl eligible this year after defeating Iowa State in the regular season. With a history of 29 bowl game appearances, the Cowboys are currently 19-10 in postseason play after last year’s win over the Missouri Tigers in the Liberty Bowl. In their 14th season under head coach Mike Gundy, the Cowboys finished the regular season 8-4 overall and 5-4 in the Big 12 conference.

This will be Texas A&M’s third appearance in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl. The Aggies competed in the 2016 Texas Bowl where they came up short against Kansas State, 33-28 and before that in 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas where they defeated the Northwestern Wildcats. This year, the Aggies became bowl eligible after defeating Mississippi State in the regular season. Texas A&M has participated in 40 bowl games and hold a 18-22 postseason record after last year’s win against NC State in the Gator Bowl. In their second season under head coach Jimbo Fisher, the Aggies finished the regular season 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the Southeastern conference.    

Conference Call Information

The head coaches for Oklahoma State and Texas A&M will conduct conference calls this evening to discuss the 2019 Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl. Oklahoma State’s Head Coach Mike Gundy will be available at 5:30 p.m. CT and Texas A&M’s Head Coach Jimbo Fisher will be available at 5:45 p.m. CT.

Phone Number: 1 (800) 747-5150

Participant PIN:  6672050


  • Oklahoma State University Head Coach Mike Gundy at 5:30 p.m. CT
  • Texas A&M University Head Coach Jimbo Fisher at 5:45 p.m. CT


The Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl is owned and operated by ESPN Events and managed locally by Lone Star Sports & Entertainment. The Bowl will showcase teams from the Big 12 and the SEC, two of the country’s premier conferences. The Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl has been a tremendous success both on and off the field over the years. The game has ranked fifth in attendance since 2014 behind only the Rose, Peach, Cotton and Sugar Bowls in that time. In terms of its community impact, the bowl has generated an average of $50 million annually for the Houston economy and through its relationship with DePelchin Children’s Center, its official charitable beneficiary, more than $1.6 million in financial support has been donated to the city’s oldest children’s charity.

ESPN Events
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 34 collegiate sporting events nationwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games, the FCS opening-weekend game, 16 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events, a college softball event and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 375-plus hours of live programming, reaches nearly 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and Tampa, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.

For more information, visit the official websiteFacebookTwitter or YouTube pages.


Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl Contact: Allie LeClair, (832) 667-2050 or


Team Alert


The Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl is like the objects outside a car mirror...closer than it appears. It’s coming fast and furiously and we can’t wait. The Vanderbilt Commodores will make their first trip to play in the bowl while the Baylor Bears make their first trip to NRG Stadium since 2010 when Heisman Trophy quarterback Robert Griffin III was under center. In that matchup, RGIII, as he’s affectionately known, and Baylor lost to an Illinois team that featured current Houston Texans star Whitney Mercilus.

Regardless, these teams each finished the year 6-6, but they both won week 13 games that earned them bowl eligibility. The Bears knocked off Texas Tech in Arlington 35-24, while Vanderbilt beat in-state foe Tennessee for the third year in a row to earn a trip to Houston. The Commodores were 3-5 with four games left in the season and a bowl trip looked bleak. But, head coach Derek Mason’s ‘Dores won three SEC games down the stretch to get to those magical six wins. This was also a Vanderbilt team that took Notre Dame, 2018 Playoff participant, to the final gun in South Bend.

Baylor’s season hung in the balance in a late season game against Oklahoma State. After consecutive losses to Texas and West Virginia, Baylor faced the Cowboys in Waco; it was a game in which Oklahoma State led throughout but couldn’t put the Bears away. Down by three late in the game, Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer threw the game winning touchdown to Denzel Mims to beat the bowl bound Cowboys. Mims finished the season as the team’s second leading receiver behind Jalen Hurd, who will miss the bowl game due to an injury he suffered in the finale against Texas Tech. Mims, though, led the team in receiving touchdowns with eight and none bigger than that one against Oklahoma State. Mims will face Vanderbilt cornerback Joejuan Williams in one of the most interesting matchups of NFL talent on the field.

For Vanderbilt, quarterback Kyle Shurmur had a tremendous season. He threw for 2,844 yards, 23 touchdowns and just six interceptions. In his final regular season game as a ‘Dore, he completed 31 of 35 passes (88.6%!!!) for 367 yards and three touchdowns. In fact, in his last five games, he threw nine touchdowns with just one interception and it was no coincidence that Vanderbilt won three of four to close the year in large part because Shurmur took his game to a different level.

It’s an NFL building so I’m going to be focused on some future NFL talent as well. Mims, Williams and Shurmur should all play at the next level in due time. Vanderbilt receiver Kalija Lipscomb and tight end Jared Pinkney are definitely candidates in the future as they still have one year of eligibility remaining. Baylor defensive end James Lynch, just a sophomore, has a bright future to say the least. He was a freshman All-American and led the Bears in sacks as a true sophomore this season.

These teams have only met twice in their history and the third one should be a fun one in Houston. Don’t miss it.

By: John Harris

Houston Texans

Team Alert


Heading into the first Saturday in November, the Chase for The Rematch in the Big 12 is still hot and heavy. Chase for The Rematch? Well, of course. The Big 12 plays nine conference games, a true round robin, so no matter which two teams tangle in Arlington for the Big 12 Championship game, it’s going to be a rematch.

 But, I digress.

 The Big 12 squads have seemingly separated themselves amongst the ten team group. There’s Tier one - the top three teams, consisting of West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas. There’s tier two - the bowl eligibles with a few upsets to their name - Iowa State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Baylor. Finally, there’s tier three - there’s still a chance for a bowl - TCU, Kansas and Kansas State, all 3-5 on the season.

 The top three team round robin continues with a matchup between West Virginia and Texas in Austin on Saturday. Round one of the round robin took place in Dallas earlier in October as the Texas Longhorns held on for a classic win over the Oklahoma Sooners. A West Virginia win over Texas could set up a weird situation for the Big 12. If the Sooners and Mountaineers win out heading into their Thanksgiving Friday November 23rd meeting, there’s a chance they could meet in back-to-back weeks - once in Oklahoma and the following week in the Big 12 Championship game in Arlington.

 Now, West Virginia visits Texas this Saturday, then faces TCU (home) and Oklahoma State (away) before Oklahoma comes calling. The Sooners face Texas Tech (away), Oklahoma State (home) and Kansas (home) before heading to Morgantown. Two teams stand in the way of a rematch at the end of the Big 12 campaign IF West Virginia wins this weekend - Iowa State and Texas. If West Virginia wins out, loses to Oklahoma in the regular season finale, Iowa State will rematch with Oklahoma if ISU wins out (which would include a win over Texas in Austin). If Oklahoma wins out, loses to a 7-1 West Virginia squad, the Texas Longhorns will rematch with West Virginia if the Longhorns win out.

 Now, Texas Tech plays both Oklahoma and Texas in back-to-back weeks IN LUBBOCK, so the Red Raiders can throw a serious monkey wrench into The Rematch. Tech lost to Iowa State and West Virginia already, but wins over Texas and Oklahoma could start us down a path of tiebreakers that I don’t even want to consider at this point.

 At least we have the month of November to figure it all out.

Team Alert


Who’s number three?

 It’s not an often asked question, but it’s evident that Alabama and Georgia, last year’s College Football National Championship combatants, are the two best teams in the SEC.

 By a LONG shot.

 So, which team is third? Why does that matter, really?

 Well, New Year’s Day Six bowl games seem to love SEC teams.

 In 2014, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Alabama earned invitations to the NYD Six games. In 2017, three teams also were invited - Alabama, Georgia and Auburn. So, the third place team in the conference will earn consideration for a New Year’s Day Six invitation.

 And, that team would be?

 Well, there are three teams at 5-1 right now. Kentucky lost last week at Texas A&M after an undefeated 5-0 start. Running back Benny Snell was bottled up and the weaknesses on offense were exposed by a stout A&M defense. Kentucky also must tangle with Georgia in a few weeks, but that game is in Lexington and the remainder of the schedule is more than manageable in the SEC East. So, the Cats will be in the mix.

 Florida is also 5-1 and trounced LSU in Gainesville. The defense is fantastically lights out, but offensively there are still some serious rough spots. The only real challenge on Florida’s schedule the rest of the way is a visit to Jacksonville on October 27th for the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, the annual get together with the University of Georgia. Similarly to Kentucky, the Gators don’t have a ranked team on the schedule not named Georgia the rest of the season. So, Florida should stay in the mix, regardless of its loss to Kentucky earlier this season.

 LSU is 5-1, but the schedule is a wee bit more difficult and by saying a wee bit, I really mean A LOT in the SEC West. The Tigers struggled on offense in Gainesville last week and lost to the Gators...and now face #2 Georgia this weekend. Then, they face #24 Mississippi State next week and #1 Alabama three weeks from Saturday. They’ll close the season at College Station where the Aggies have played well this season.

 Speaking of the Aggies, could it be Texas A&M? The 4-2 Aggies still have road trips to Mississippi State and Auburn, but the way its defense is playing right now, it’s going to be a tough squad to beat anywhere. It may come down to a visit from LSU in the finale for that overall third spot in the conference. The Aggies have faltered in the second halves of seasons for the past five years so not many will take them seriously until Jimbo Fisher’s team proves them wrong.

 Mississippi State and Auburn are 4-2, but they both have Alabama remaining on the schedule, plus Mississippi State has LSU and Auburn has Georgia as well.

 Nothing is clear cut in the SEC. Except at the top. Alabama and Georgia rule the roost while 12 other teams fight for the next rung down, one that might be ultra-important come bowl season.

Team Alert


It doesn’t matter which one comes first for most people. However, if you bleed crimson and cream, you’ll think OU v. Texas takes place in Dallas this weekend, but if you’re burnt orange all the way, it’s Texas v. OU in the Cotton Bowl. Regardless of your allegiance, this Red River Rivalry is back. As such, the world seems to be back on its axis as these days as the two Big 12 powers will meet on Saturday, both undefeated in Big 12 play.


Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, although he sat out the first series of the Baylor game last weekend, turned in a magnificent performance against the Bears. He accounted for seven touchdowns, throwing six, and totaling 494 yards of total offense. He’s stepped into the void left by 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield and kept the Oklahoma offensive engine running at an insanely high level.


The story for the Longhorns has been a feisty defense that has given up less than 17 points per game in its four wins. Safety Caden Sterns is a true freshman play maker who will be a key for the Longhorns defense against the powerful Oklahoma offense. Last week, it was talented defensive end Charles Omenihu who starred, posting two sacks and three tackles for a loss in a win over the Kansas State Wildcats.


So, what are my Keys to the Game?


For Oklahoma…


  1. Find different ways to get the ball to Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown - that’s probably the one guy that Texas doesn’t match up with really well. Cornerback Kris Boyd is a better matchup on Sooners receiver Cee Dee Lamb, so Brown is a bit of a wild card. Sterns may see Brown a few times, but the more unique ways that Brown can get the rock, the better for OU.


  1. Never quit on Ehlinger - Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger isn’t the best thrower, nor is he wildly accurate or productive through the air, but he will make a play and is tougher than a $2 steak. He will hold the ball longer than he should but that also makes him ultra-dangerous when he extends plays. The Sooners defense can’t get lazy once plays are extended thinking Ehlinger is tackled or bottled up.


For Texas…

  1. Surprise everyone with a downfield passing attack - Look, the Longhorns have one of the most talented pair of receivers in the Big 12 in Lil’ Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson, but they need more down the field targets. Last week, Ehlinger threw 36 times (completing 29) for only 207 yards. The two stars combined for nine catches but for only 91 yards. The Sooners secondary isn’t blessed with superstars so Ehlinger must push the ball downfield to his two NFL-bound stars.


  1. Pocket Murray better than Mobile Murray - Murray is far from the biggest player on the field but he’s magical with the way he can get out of the pocket and create. If Texas plans on taking home a W to Austin, it MUST force Murray to stay in the confines of the pocket. Spy on him. Rush only three. Play basketball on him, mirroring him, instead of truly rushing the pocket. Whatever the Longhorns must do to keep Murray from taking one step out of the pocket, they must execute every single pass play. Then, when he eventually leaves the pocket, make him pay. Be the most physical unit at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday.
Team Alert

John Harris on the Texas v. Missouri Matchup

The Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl is set and it renews two former acquaintances – the Texas Longhorns and the Missouri Tigers. These two have met 23 times, with the majority of those coming from years 1996 to 2011 when they were both members of the Big 12. In 2012, though, Missouri moved to the SEC and these two haven’t faced each other since.

Much was expected of the Longhorns in 2017 as head coach Tom Herman took over the University of Texas program. Yet, the year was filled with ups and downs as Herman tried to put his stamp on the program. The Longhorns were a first down away from finishing 7-5, on track for a potential eighth win in the bowl game. However, an interception opened the door for Texas Tech to sneak in and escape out of Austin with the Longhorns’ possible seventh win. As such, the Longhorns come into this one looking to avoid seven losses in a season for the fourth consecutive season. It’s also a return for Herman back to Houston and to NRG Stadium where he led the Houston Cougars to an upset of the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2016 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff.

For Missouri, a bowl game was a distant blip on the radar screen as late as middle of October. Then, the Tigers got hot. After a 53-28 loss to the playoff bound Georgia Bulldogs, Barry Odom’s Tigers were 1-5. To get to six wins, the Tigers had to beat Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Arkansas. They did, in addition to Idaho and U Conn. They ran the table, averaging nearly 50 points a game in the process. Quarterback Drew Lock lit up the airways, completing 58.2% of his passes for 3,695 yards and 43 touchdowns. Yes, FORTY THREE touchdowns…in a season.

The Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl will be one of the most intriguing bowl games, given the winding paths that these two teams followed to get to Houston on December 27, 2017.

By: John Harris

Team Alert

John Harris: Championship Weekend is Upon Us

Championship weekend is upon us and it’s going to be one heck of a weekend. The CFP Final Four came a bit more into focus the past weekend, which then sets the dominoes in motion for bowl appointments, most importantly for all of us in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl (the Bowl).

The Playoff seems clear to me at this point.
The winner of Auburn-Georgia in the SEC Championship game is in the Playoff.
The winner of Miami-Clemson in the ACC Championship game is in the Playoff.
If Wisconsin wins, it’s in the Playoff.
If Oklahoma wins, it’s in the Playoff.

If Wisconsin loses, the Committee has to compare Alabama’s and Ohio State’s resumes, which isn’t going to be easy.
If Oklahoma and Wisconsin both lose, then Alabama and Ohio State may both be in.
If Oklahoma loses but Wisconsin wins, then Alabama seems to be the next best option to go in with Wisconsin, ACC winner and SEC winner.

In summation on the playoff, here are the possibilities as I see them ACC winner, SEC winner, Wisconsin & Oklahoma ACC winner, SEC winner, Wisconsin & Alabama ACC winner, SEC winner, Ohio State & Oklahoma ACC winner, SEC winner, Ohio State & Alabama

The entire situation is fluid, honestly. What if Wisconsin loses to Ohio State 38-37 in the wildest game of the day? Could the Committee take both Ohio State and Wisconsin? Probably not, but then again, who knows?

Now, how does this all impact the Academy Sports + Outdoor Texas Bowl. Well, on the Big 12 side, if TCU beats Oklahoma, then the Big 12 will more than likely get two teams in New Year’s Day Six Bowls. With two teams in New Year’s Day Six games, it moves every Big 12 team up in the pecking order, so to speak, which takes away an option from the Bowl. But, if Oklahoma wins, TCU may not be able to hold a spot in the top 12-14, which could keep it from getting a New Year’s Day Six bid. For the Bowl, that’s a great thing. For TCU and the Big 12, not so much, I suppose.

On the SEC side, with Alabama at 11-1, the conference is 99.9% guaranteed to get at least two teams in New Year’s Day Six games. A third team getting invited, like in 2014 (Alabama, Mississippi State and Ole Miss), will create a domino effect for the Bowl, moving every team up in the pecking order.

So, even though the picture is clearer at the top, in some respects, the results on Championship weekend have far ranging effects for all bowls, including the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bowl on December 27th.

By: John Harris

Team Alert

Texas Longhorns and Their Long Road to Bowl Eligibility

After Maryland put a 50-burger on the University of Texas to start the season, there were major concerns in Austin that it would be a loooooong season for first year head coach Tom Herman. No one, and by no one, I mean NO ONE, saw that coming. Maryland had (most of its firepower was lost to injury this season) a ton of weaponry that it sprung on the Texas defense and it was a horrid look for the Longhorns to start the 2017 campaign, especially so after allowing opponents 31.5 points per game in 2016.

Fast forward about 12 weeks or so and take a look at the Texas Longhorns defensive unit now. After Maryland’s 50 point output, the Longhorns defense has yielded just over 20 points a game, which is a near impossibility in the offensively potent Big 12. It held nearly every offense on its schedule under that unit’s scoring average, with one unusual exception (Kansas). Against West Virginia, the Longhorns held West Virginia to a measly 56 yards on the ground (WVU averaged over 160 yards per game heading into the game) and 295 yards of total offense. The win over West Virginia also made the Longhorns bowl eligible after being shut out of a bowl in 2016.

The play of the Longhorns defense saved the season, so to speak. The offense had moments of brilliance this year, but it’s been inconsistent to say the least. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando has turned around defenses at nearly every single stop on his coaching journey and now he’s done it in Austin as well. Because of the play of the Texas defense, Orlando, Herman and the Longhorns will be playing a 13th game this season and that’s certainly a step in the right direction.

By: John Harris

Team Alert


For the first time in 15 years, a day of college football will include three top-10 matchups. And the Big 12 is at the center of it.

The meeting between No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 6 TCU in Norman, Okla., joins No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 10 Auburn and No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Miami as Saturday’s trio of top-10 showdowns. It’s the first day with three such games since Oct. 12, 2002.

Interestingly, that day also involved games featuring Oklahoma, Georgia and Miami, with each of those teams winning their respective games. The No. 2 Sooners defeated No. 3 Texas, 35-24. Georgia, ranked sixth, won 18-13 over 10th-ranked Tennessee. No. 1 Miami inched past No. 9 Florida State, 28-27.

All three of this year’s carry heavy College Football Playoff implications, as any losing team would suffer a severe drop in its playoff chances as a result. The Big 12 matchup specifically is a playoff elimination game, with either team at risk of suffering its second loss. The winner is best positioned for a run to the playoff and conference championship game, while the loser is likely out of the playoff but still capable of earning a spot in the Big 12 title game.

Georgia can help minimize chaos by defeating Auburn, while a Tigers victory would make the Iron Bowl with No. 2 Alabama a must-watch matchup for all those with playoff interests.

Norte Dame is hoping to knock a conference or two, including the Big 12, out of the playoff, while Miami is trying to keep its perfect season alive.

For the Big 12 to make the playoff, the winner of Oklahoma-TCU likely needs to also win the conference title. A 12-1 conference champ would be tough to leave out, so this weekend’s results in any of the three games will have a large impact down the line.

By: Nathan Ruiz, [view article]

Team Alert

Bedlam Will Be Bedlam

Oklahomans refer to it as Bedlam. Oklahoma v. Oklahoma State or Oklahoma State v. Oklahoma, depending on the shade of orange or crimson on your person. Over the past decade and a half, these two have met for not just bragging rights, but a potential spot in the Big 12 Championship game, a potential Big 12 Championship crown and/or a possible spot in the College Football Playoffs. This year is no different.

The Sooners will travel to Stillwater as the number five team in the country, with an outstanding win over Ohio State on the road but a heartbreaking loss to Iowa State at home. Since losing at home to TCU, the eleventh ranked Cowboys have won four in a row, prior to the Sooners visit on Saturday.

Iowa State awaits Oklahoma State next week, but there’s no Cowboy looking beyond the Sooners this week. Why? Well, it’s pretty obvious, but for there to be anything special left on the table for the Cowboys, a win over the Sooners is a necessity. Same for the Sooners. A second conference loss more than likely eliminates either team from the Big 12 Championship game race.

However, like a 1990s informercial…there’s so much more. Quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph won’t step on the field at the same time, but they’ll engage in a back and forth showdown that could be one of the best quarterback shootouts in college football this season. Both are still in the running for nearly every single postseason award, including the Heisman Trophy. Mayfield is thought to be a frontrunner for the prestigious Heisman alongside Saquon Barkley (Penn State), but Rudolph can inject himself into the conversation with a Rudolph-like performance on this massive stage.

There’s a mullet. There are two transcendent quarterbacks. There’s hate. There’s a first year, rookie head coach. There’s hate, sports hate, though (I think). There’s Bedlam and this year, there will be plenty of it in Stillwater on Saturday afternoon.

By: John Harris