College Football Starts With a Bang for Avid Fans
For The Record
If you were lucky enough to stay off the highways Labor Day weekend and love college football, you must have thought you died and went to Heaven.
Those of us who fall into that category got to see plenty of games Thursday through Monday night. And some of the best games involved teams within a 300-mile radius of the Orange area that were involved in upsets.
Three exciting games Saturday found the University of Houston completely dominating the 11-point favored Oklahoma Sooners 33-23 in the second half, the Texas Aggies upsetting UCLA 31-24 in overtime and the LSU Tigers being upset 16-14 by Wisconsin at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
If watching these three games didn’t send your blood pressure into orbit, then you didn’t enjoy those games as much as I did.
No. 3-ranked Oklahoma jumped off to a 10-3 lead in the first period, but a pair of Ty Cummings field goals just before halftime put the Coogs in front for good 19-17 and really got the crowd going at NRG Stadium in Houston.
The noise became deafening midway through the third period when the Sooners’ Austin Seibert’s 53-yard field goal try was short and was caught by Houston’s Brandon Wilson inches from the end line in the back of the end zone and returned 109 yards to increase Houston’s lead to 26-17.
The Cougars beat the highest-ranked opponent since a 29-15 win over No. 3 Texas on Nov. 10, 1984.
Texas A&M looked to have their upset victory locked up when they led 24-9 with less than five minutes left in the game before a crowd of 100,443 fans at Kyle Field in College Station.
But the combination of defensive lapses and a charging Bruin attack resulted in a pair of late touchdowns which tied the score at 24-24 with 2:51 remaining in regulation. Neither team got overly-aggressive sending the contest into overtime.
The Aggies lost the coin flip and consequently got the football first. They drove down to the shadow of the goal line but couldn’t pound it in.
A&M quarterback Trevor Knight, who was playing his first game with the Aggies since transferring from Oklahoma faked to the right and calmly pranced around left end into the end zone for the touchdown on a fourth-and inches situation. The extra point made it 31-24.
With the crowd so loud one couldn’t hear himself think, the Aggie defense dug in and played perhaps their best defense of the game and prevented UCLA from scoring the tying touchdown to the delight of the crowd.
This was the type of victory the unranked team required and Head Coach Kevin Sumlin needed the most. It helped solidify his position at the start of his fifth season at the helm of the Aggies.
But they had better cease the celebrations quickly because 7 of A&M’s 12 opponents entered Week 1 ranked or receiving votes.
LSU’s dreams for an undefeated season and national title hopes came to a screeching halt when Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone booted a 47-yard field goal in the waning minutes Saturday afternoon.
The Badgers put the icing on the cake with an interception with 57 seconds left in the game.
Perhaps the most exciting game was the one played Sunday night at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin between the Texas Longhorns and Notre Dame.
Last year’s meeting at South Bend turned into a 38-3 rout of the Longhorns. Head Coach Charlie Strong approached this game like it was a bowl game, never revealing who his starting quarterback would be until right before game time after choosing freshman Shane Buechele over senior Tyrone Swoopes.
However, both talented quarterbacks would have a hand in the final decision which went two overtime periods and was won by Texas in a shootout 50-47.
For a moment, it looked as if Texas would run away with the game as the ‘Horns had as many touchdowns (3) as they scored points in last year’s meeting. They went ahead 28-14 early in the second half.
The Fighting Irish did just that, fought and scrapped back into the game thanks to the superb play of quarterback DeShone Kizer with the score tied 37-37 after a blocked extra point was run all the way back for a two-point play.
But when it came down to the overtime periods and short yardage was needed either for a first down or a touchdown, Strong called on Swoopes, who is nicknamed “The 18-Wheeler” and he picked up the necessary yardage each time after taking a direct snap.
The players and the joyous Longhorn fans were convinced after Swoopes winning touchdown run in the second overtime period that the Texas Longhorns are for real this year.
And to remember my father Big Joe’s famous quote: “One game a season does not make.”
KWICKIES…And while we’re on the subject of my family, I received a phone call Sunday from my only grandson, Logan Smith, who is a Plebe (first year) at West Point. He excitedly told me that he made the Army fall baseball team. He comes from pretty good stock with yours truly and his dad Brian Smith, who played baseball for Little Cypress. And Logan also was a standout high school pitcher at Lufkin Hudson.
An 80-year-old Newton Eagle football fan suffered a heart attack while watching Friday night’s high school contest at Silsbee between the Tigers and Newton. Paul Hughes is in “stable condition” at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont after receiving CPR by nearby fans in the stands before the EMT’s arrived.
And while on the subject of high school football, there should be a good one brewing at Larry Ward Stadium in Bridge City Friday night between the Cardinals and the defending state champion West Orange-Stark Mustangs. Both teams are high-scoring and very stingy on defense and both are 2-0. That’s all that needs to be said.
The 2016 National Football League season begins tomorrow night when the defending world champion Denver Broncos entertain the runner-up Carolina Panthers, the two Super Bowl 50 participants. The Houston Texans open the season at home against the Chicago Bears while the Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants. Earl Thomas and his Seattle Seahawks welcome the Miami Dolphins at 3:05 p.m. in a game that will be nationally televised on CBS.
JUST BETWEEN US…The final results of the annual Labor Day Golf Tournament sponsored by the Men’s Golf Association at Sunset Grove Country Club in Orange are as follows:
CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT—1. Garrett Granger 2. Corey Romero 3. Maurice Prince.
FIRST FLIGHT—1. Bart Williams 2. Mark Magnuson 3. Ron Roberts.
SECOND FLIGHT 1. David Benoit 2. James Lyles 3. David Meaux.
THIRD FLIGHT—1. Price Youngs 2. Glynn Aldredge 3. Dale Peddy.
FOURTH FLIGHT—1.John Olson 2. Randy Jarrell 3. Larry Moerbe.
FIFTH FLIGHT—1. Scott Garvie 2. Carl Cole 3. Ronnie LaSalle.
SENIOR FLIGHT—1. Ken Ruane 2. Jim Pilgren 3. Jimmy Sims.