Sports

Week 9 Football Recap: Bowl Bound? Not Quite Yet.

todayNovember 2, 2013 7

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Credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com
Photo Credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

When Texas State made the decision to jump from the FCS to the FBS, it was presumed moments like this that prompted the jump. Many questions arose before the decision was made: Would the students support them? Would Texas State be left in the dust with the conference shakeups? Could the team compete?

All three have been answered: Yes, but the students only support success, unsurprisingly; No, as Texas State has found a stable home —while ironically hoping to gain interest from a more prominent one; and as the team proved last year, yes, they can compete.

In two years Texas State has already made their mark as an up-and-coming program. Head coach Dennis Franchione has marketed the University as a prime spot for transferring players to call home. The current depth chart already includes many transfers that have made an impact early. The contributions of players from Texas Tech (Michael O’diari), TCU (DJ Yendrey) and Colorado State (Michael Orakpo) prove that, sometimes, in order to compete you have to make yourself a home to guys who just need another chance.

Why preface with all of that? Just to put things into perspective since Texas State is now bowl eligible for the first time in school history sitting at 6-3 on the season.

Time to go bowling? Not quite just yet. But it became a realistic possibility this Saturday after a 37-21 victory over the Idaho Vandals.

In a very un-Texas State like fashion, the Bobcats threw for more yards than they ran with a spread of 228 passing yards to only 108 rushing yards. Last season against the Vandals, Texas State rushed for 337 yards so it would be hard to think Coach Franchione would switch up the play-calling. But that’s exactly what happened as Texas State’s dynamic backfield was held in check for a good part of the game.

Whether it was a last gasp of Halloween trickery or simple home-dome luck, the Vandals’ first touchdown that tied the game at 7 apiece came from a tipped pass directly into the unsuspecting hands of Idaho wide receiver Deon Watson. Those kind of plays could potentially swing momentum in favor of the beneficiary but fortunately for the Bobcats, they came back with ten unanswered points of their own.

Franchione gambled just before the half and chose to go for the touchdown instead of relying on the trustworthy leg of Jason Dann. Ben Ijah snagged the pass, one-handed, from Tyler Jones to put the Bobcats up 23-14 to go into the half.

Texas State opened up the game in the second half to put this one away early. The dagger came on a very deceiving play-call when Tyler Jones looked to be executing a quarterback draw, then he pulled back to pass and found Terrence Franks wide open without an Idaho defender within 20 yards.

Tyler Jones had another great performance throwing 19/23 for 228 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. The game plan was simple, make the easy passes, don’t force it, and trust Jones to win the game. That’s exactly what happened as Franchione’s trust in the true freshman quarterback continues to grow.

Bowl Eligibility

The Bobcats are 6-3, bowl eligible, three games to go, so why not celebrate now?

It is a historic occasion no doubt. Troy University is the only other school in college football history to become bowl eligible after making the jump to FBS (Formerly Div-1A) and that puts Texas State in very exclusive company. But with average home game attendance being barely above half capacityaveraged around 18,000 in 2012 and not too far off that number this yearit’s hard to make a case for the Bobcats to be in a bowl game with only 6 wins.

The Sun Belt Conference has an automatic tie-in to two bowls:

SBC Winner: The New Orleans Bowl vs Conference USA

Sun Belt Runner-Up: GoDaddy.Com Bowl (Mobile, AL) vs Mid-Atlantic Conference

The Camellia Bowl will have a SBC tie-in in 2014.

Texas State currently ranks fifth in the conference with all three remaining games being Sun Belt opponents. Winning the conference isn’t out of the question yet, but is still unlikely. Because of that, Texas State will have to rely on a fill-in spot to replace a conference that couldn’t fulfill all of it’s automatic bowl bids.

What does this mean?

It means Texas State not only has to continue to win to ensure its place in a bowl, but it also has to sway the bowl games themselves. At the end of the season, if certain conferences cannot fill their automatic tie-in requirements then the bowl game is free to select whatever bowl eligible team they wish. With the bowl games being heavily sponsor-driven, the biggest draw for bowls when making these selections is the only thing that matters in today’s college football world. Money.

If Texas State finishes 6-6 with an average home attendance of barely over 18k no bowl will be interested as they would presume ticket sales will be too low and TV ratings would be down. It’s a game of number. A 6-6 team with a half-interested fan base, or a 7-5 team with a fan base that travels well?

That’s why the latter half of the Bobcats’ schedule is imperative to the possibility of a post-season and even more crucial is Texas State’s last home game of the season against Bobby Petrino’s Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The students need to show their desire for a bowl berth and sway the attendance average. As it has been, Texas State’s destiny is in the hands of the players and now the fans as well. And thus, the last of the initial three questions is asked a little differently, can this school compete?

Notes

  • The game plan was simplified and it worked to near perfection. Short passes, get Jones comfortable and I’m hoping to see more of the same the rest of the year.
  • SBNation projected the Bobcats in the Heart of Dallas Bowl and a few weeks ago CBS projected them in the Idaho Potato Bowl to play on the Smurf Turf in Boise. Both are still legitimate possibilities.
  • Personally, I don’t see the Bobcats having a hard time selling tickets to a bowl game. I believe fans will travel well for their first bowl experience. The problem comes with proving that case. It’s presumed that Texas States fans don’t support the team since attendance barely reaches over half-full. Which isn’t entirely true. They support continued success which is still a work in progress.

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