Dallas Colleges: Arizona State Sun Devils

Texas A&M will be at home or close to it for the balance of its nonconference schedule in 2015.

The school announced Thursday that it has finalized its 2015 nonconference schedule, which includes three home games at what will then be freshly remodeled Kyle Field, as well as its clash with Arizona State in Houston, which was announced last November.

The nonconference schedule begins with a Sept. 5, 2015 game against Arizona State at Houston’s NRG Stadium (formerly known as Reliant Stadium), followed by a meeting with Ball State on Sept. 12 at Kyle Field. On Sept. 19, Nevada will visit Kyle Field, likely bringing a familiar face back to Aggieland – Nevada head coach Brian Polian was the Aggies’ special teams coordinator under head coach Kevin Sumlin in the 2012 season.

Rounding out the nonconference schedule is a Nov. 14 game against Western Carolina at Kyle Field.

The Aggies’ home schedule in 2015 also consists of SEC games against Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and South Carolina. The Aggies travel to LSU, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt for road conference games in 2015 and will meet Arkansas in a neutral-site game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

States of strength: Texas RBs 

May, 15, 2014
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When it comes to running backs, the state of Texas is loaded. Ten running backs represent the Lone Star State in the ESPN 300. Of those 10, five are committed. A total of seven running backs in the state have reported FBS commitments.

ESPN 300 RBs from the state:

No. 50 Ronald Jones II: Ranked the nation’s No. 3 running back, Jones is an explosive, game-changing back who -- as scary as it might sound -- will only get better. Jones committed to Oklahoma State on April 6 and finished his junior season with more than 2,400 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.

Texas' team commitment pays off in end

March, 21, 2014
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MILWAUKEE -- Many teams create watchwords before the season or the NCAA tournament, corny but commendable slogans that look good on dry-erase boards or in Twitter hashtags.

Few teams follow through on them. Even fewer do so the way Texas did Thursday night.

Three days earlier, Longhorns players and coaches had brainstormed three guiding principles for their tournament quest: fundamentals, team and win. The fundamentals lacked at times against Arizona State, as Texas committed 24 fouls and allowed too many open looks for the Sun Devils in the second half. But the Longhorns were the ultimate team, especially down the stretch, and they prevailed with an 87-85 win.

Cameron Ridley's acrobatic putback a flicker before the horn punctuated the victory and led off the highlights, as it should, but Texas' final four baskets all came on second-chance efforts, as Ridley and forward Jonathan Holmes combined for 10 offensive rebounds. There were fortunate bounces, but Texas repeatedly capitalized on them.

The Longhorns had six players score in double figures -- all five starters and freshman guard Martez Walker, who had a career-high 16. There are no Kevin Durants or T.J. Fords on the team that brought back Texas basketball and rescued coach Rick Barnes. Texas has many contributors, and it needed them all against an Arizona State team that controlled play after falling behind by 14 with 12:11 to play.

"We know we need everybody," guard Isaiah Taylor said. "Other teams, they always have two leading scorers. We know that anybody on our team can lead us in scoring on any given night. You can rely on everybody for confidence. All five of us can score, so we can pass it to anybody and everybody can create for themselves."

Thursday marked the sixth game this season in which Texas had at least five players score in double figures. The Longhorns adhere to the motto INAM -- It's Not About Me -- but as guard Javan Felix notes, it means to "selfishly attack your role."

[+] EnlargeCameron Ridley
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesCameron Ridley, who made the game-winning shot for Texas, goes on the offensive in the second half.
"Before the game, we just talked about fighting," Felix said. "On those two plays, you just saw how hard we fought."

Arizona State led 83-82 with 35 seconds left when Felix fired a 3-pointer from the corner. The problem: it only went about 19 feet. As soon as he released it, he started shouting, "Short! Short!"

Fortunately, Holmes heard him, caught the air ball, scored and drew a foul.

"That's my assist," Felix said, smiling.

Another wayward 3-point attempt, this time by Holmes, appeared to send the game to overtime. But the 285-pound Ridley cut through the lane, caught the ball near his ankles and banked it in with his left hand, just outside the reach of Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski.

Ridley's first buzzer-beater at any level -- "The ball was never in my hands for that situation," he said -- came on the biggest stage.

"Arizona State players were crashing the boards, and I saw a small opening, so I took it," Ridley said. "The ball just happened to bounce my way, and I got the shot up as quick as possible."

Officials reviewed the play to make sure Ridley got the shot off in time. He had no doubt.

"Positive," he said. "Right when I released it, I started screaming. I knew I took the team to the next round."

A top-10 recruit with superb shot-blocking ability and touch around the basket, Ridley could be Texas' next megastar. Thursday night, he was simply one of several capable options who came through.

"Six people in double figures," Felix said. "That's the pure example of team."

The seventh-seeded Longhorns advance to face No. 2 Michigan on Saturday. A win will put them past the tournament's first weekend for the first time since an Elite Eight run in 2008.

Taylor joked in the locker room that it was the first time he had seen Barnes happy after a victory this season.

"Great team win," Barnes said. "Really a great team win."

At Texas, there's no other way.

Three-star OG Anderson flips to Texas

January, 21, 2014
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Three-star offensive lineman Alex Anderson (New Orleans/O. Perry Walker) had a tough decision to make and no time to make it. Late Monday night, he knew, in his gut, that he was ready to choose.

Anderson backed out of his pledge to Arizona State and committed to Texas on Monday, becoming the 22nd member of new coach Charlie Strong’s class.

The 6-foot-3, 275-pound offensive guard will enroll early at Texas and said he’s hoping to be on campus for his first classes on Wednesday.

I'm coming in to play, and they dont have much depth and are in a predicament. I'll come in and be a high-impact player right off the bat.

-- OL Alex Anderson, after committing to Texas
The decision came after Anderson made back-to-back officials to Texas and ASU, a trip that began in Austin on Thursday and ended on Monday after two days at both schools.

What the decision came down to, he said, was family.

“I visited Arizona State, and the campus was outstanding. I really loved it and wanted to be there, but I had to see the reality of it,” Anderson said. “My family really couldn’t afford [visiting], and I didn’t feel too much at home. So that’s why I had to go in a different direction. I just really wanted to be close to home.”

Anderson had been committed to the Sun Devils since July but quietly reopened his recruitment recently, initially in the hopes of attending Oklahoma State. And then OSU offensive line coach Joe Wickline left to become the offensive coordinator and line coach at Texas.

While Anderson believed he was closing in on an offer from the previous Longhorn staff, the new one made it clear right away that he was a priority.

“When Coach Strong and Coach Wickline came in, they threw me an offer the first day they were there,” Anderson said.

Landing Anderson was crucial for a Texas class that has only one other lineman, four-star center Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper).

Both of Texas’ starting offensive guards, Trey Hopkins and Mason Walters, are graduating. There’s opportunity to play right away, and Anderson likes his chances.

“I’m coming in to play, and they don’t have much depth and are in a predicament,” he said. “I’ll come in and be a high-impact player right off the bat.”

He never would’ve guessed a few weeks ago that he’d end up at Texas, that’s for sure. When Wickline joined the Longhorns, Anderson knew he had to reconsider things and take a visit. He likes Wickline’s intensity, and he was wowed by the impression Strong made during the official visit.

“He’s a disciplined coach,” Anderson said. “He’s not going to expect nothing but greatness from you. I like that. He wants you to be the best, and he’ll push you to be the best. That’s a program I want to be a part of. I feel like the old Texas is about to be back in effect.”

Anderson will be Texas’ third early enrollee in the 2014 class after tight end Blake Whiteley and linebacker Andrew Beck enrolled last week.

ASU can't match Texas Tech's energy

December, 31, 2013
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SAN DIEGO -- Cursed! Cursed, I tell ya!

Make it three years in a row that the loser of the Pac-12 championship game has gone on to have an uninspiring performance in the bowl season. In 2011 it was the waiver-approved UCLA Bruins who fell to Oregon in the title game and then dropped a 20-14 contest to Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Last year, it was the Bruins again who lost to Stanford in the title game and then got stomped by Baylor 49-26 in the Holiday Bowl.

[+] EnlargeTodd Graham
Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsTodd Graham talks with defensive back Damarious Randall during Monday's loss to Texas Tech.
The latest Pac-12 team to catch a vicious strand of shootium self em footseeitus is the Arizona State Sun Devils who, as head coach Todd Graham said, picked the last game to play their worst game of the season. The Sun Devils watched Texas Tech jump out to a 27-13 halftime lead and were never able to gain traction in a 37-23 loss in the National University Holiday Bowl.

Whether a title game hangover actually does exist is probably more fodder than fact. But Graham wasn’t interested in excuses. Rather, he and his coaching staff shouldered the brunt of the blame.

“It’s not the players’ fault, that’s why they hire coaches, to get your guys ready to play,” Graham said. “We didn’t get our guys ready to play and on the other hand the other team did … I was embarrassed for our fans that showed up today that we did such a poor job of having our guys prepared to play. I love these players, tremendous group of seniors. Guys gave us everything they had. Really proud of them. Absolutely zero excuses. We just didn’t show up as a coaching staff and didn’t have our guys prepared to play.”

Of course, there is something to be said for Texas Tech hearing all week how great a team Arizona State was and how out of hand this game might get.

“Everybody was picking them,” said Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. “They were one of the top 15 teams in the country, we knew that sentiment going in and the kids responded well. They felt it all week. It was a celebration of Arizona State … but we wanted them to know that we were here, too.”

Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb certainly made his presence felt. He threw four first-half touchdowns -- matching a Holiday Bowl record for passing touchdowns in a game -- while completing 28 of 41 passes for 403 yards. All-American tight end Jace Amaro was the recipient of eight of those passes for 112 yards. Jakeem Grant caught two of Webb's four touchdowns.

“Going out, beating a top-15 team as your last game when everyone had you losing by 20 points initially is something to be proud of,” Amaro said. “We knew we were a great team this whole year. We knew how great we could be and I think we proved it tonight on national television.”

On the flip side, ASU’s defense didn’t look good in HD, SD or in person. The Sun Devils were gutted by Webb & Co. as Texas Tech scored touchdowns on four of its first five possessions and had six plays of 20 yards or more in the first half.

Playing without injured running back Marion Grice, the Sun Devils offense got off to a sluggish start -- though it did finish with 287 yards on the ground. That was mostly because quarterback Taylor Kelly was pressured all night and had little time to throw. He was just 5-of-7 for 14 yards in the first half and the Sun Devils gained just 181 yards to Texas Tech’s 352. They settled for a pair of Zane Gonzalez field goals in the first quarter and finally got a touchdown from D.J. Foster midway through the second quarter.

“He’s one of the top scorers in the country and he’s a guy we miss,” Graham said of Grice. “D.J. was a little banged up too. … But we didn’t protect our quarterback. We took too many negative-yardage plays. We just didn’t play well and I think that had a lot to do with Texas Tech and the energy they were playing with. This game is meant to be played with great passion and you gotta bring it every single game. They brought it. They were the more passionate team today and, again, it’s a disappointment for our fans.”

Just when it seemed like ASU could grab some momentum, something catastrophic would happen. Case in point: a mismanaged final drive of the first half -- that had the Sun Devils with first-and-goal at the 1-yard line -- yielded no points. Then the Sun Devils marched the opening kickoff of the second half down for a touchdown, only to watch Reginald Davis return the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.

The first-half deficit was too much to overcome.

“The worst half of football we have played defensively all year,” Graham said. “We just didn’t have them prepared. Seven critical errors in the first half … we didn’t see anything, really, we didn’t see in practice. We didn’t come prepared to play, and that’s our job as coaches.”

Instant Analysis: Texas Tech 37, ASU 23

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
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SAN DIEGO -- A blitz-happy Texas Tech defense kept the Arizona State off balance all night en route to a 37-23 win in the National University Holiday Bowl. Here's how it all went down at Qualcomm Stadium:

It was over when: Holding on to a 37-23 lead with 3:35 left in the game, Justis Nelson picked off Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly in the end zone. From there, the Red Raiders were able to eat up enough clock to thwart any chance of a comeback.

Game ball goes to: For all the hub-bub about Baker Mayfield transferring out, Davis Webb was more than up to the task, matching a Holiday Bowl record with four touchdown passes. He was controlled and efficient, completing 28 of 41 passes for 403 yards.

Unsung hero: Be it a third-down conversion, a big play or simply a 5-yard gain to get a little breathing room, All-American tight end Jace Amaro came through with a huge performance. He caught eight balls for 112 yards.

Key stat: Not that it made a huge difference in the outcome, but ASU has now forced a turnover in 29 straight games, which is the second longest active streak in college football behind Missouri.

What it means for Texas Tech: It snaps a five-game losing streak and gives it a little more credibility for knocking off the Pac-12 South champs. After spending five days in San Diego, hearing about how good ASU is and while they are two-touchdown underdogs, the Red Raiders certainly looked like the more poised team. This win should provide a nice momentum boost heading into the offseason.

What it means for Arizona State: It sours what had been a pretty good season for the Sun Devils, who actually had the best overall record in the Pac-12 during the regular season. With 26 seniors departing, the Sun Devils should be solid again on offense next season, but they lose a lot of production and leadership on the defensive side of the ball.

To watch the trophy presentation of the National University Holiday Bowl, click here.

National University Holiday Bowl preview

December, 30, 2013
12/30/13
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Arizona State (10-3) and Texas Tech (7-5) square off Monday night in San Diego in the National University Holiday Bowl at 10:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Here’s a quick preview:

What to watch: There is a good chance, a very good chance actually, that this game could turn into a track meet. The Sun Devils average 41 points per game -- 10th in the country -- and Texas Tech isn’t too shabby offensively either, averaging almost 36 points per game. Which defense is going to step up and make a play? Arizona State seems the more likely option of the two. Texas Tech gives up 31.2 points per game while the Sun Devils only give up 25.8. The Sun Devils also have a plus-14 turnover margin with 21 interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 54.7 percent of their passes against ASU.

Who to watch: The big question is who will start at quarterback for Texas Tech -- Davis Webb or Michael Brewer. This all came about after Baker Mayfield, in a strange turn of events, announced after the season that he was transferring. There's also a chance we could see both QBs. For the Sun Devils, it looks doubtful that Marion Grice will play, meaning the bulk of the running work falls on D.J. Foster. Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton is an All-American and the Pac-12’s two-time defensive player of the year. Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro is also an All-American with more than 1,200 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Why to watch: The Holiday Bowl is traditionally one of the more exciting games of the postseason. Since its inception in 1978, 17 of the 35 games have been decided by a touchdown or less, and 20 of the games were decided in the final four minutes. This is also the last year that it will keep ties with the Big 12. Next year one of the top tier teams from the Big Ten will be paired against the Pac-12.

Prediction: Arizona State 42, Texas Tech 24.

Video: Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury

December, 23, 2013
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Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury talks about playing Arizona State in the National University Holiday Bowl, his quarterback situation and the up-and-down year.

National University Holiday Bowl

December, 9, 2013
12/09/13
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Arizona State Sun Devils (10-3) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5)

Dec. 30, 10:15 p.m. ET, San Diego (ESPN)


ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS BREAKDOWN
Arizona State hit the 10-win mark in Todd Graham's second season as head coach and won the Pac-12's South Division. Despite a decisive loss in the conference title game to Stanford, the program appears to be on a decided uptick.

[+] EnlargeWill Sutton
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsDefensive tackle Will Sutton is a disruptive force for the Sun Devils.
The season did start with controversy. On Sept. 14 at Arizona State, Wisconsin appeared to have put itself in position to kick a winning field goal, but Badgers QB Joel Stave opted to unconventionally place the ball on the ground instead of just falling down himself, and the Pac-12 officiating crew melted down in a panic of indecision, allowing the clock to expire. It was embarrassing for the conference but nonetheless a win in the ledger for the Sun Devils.

After an impressive domination of USC, a 62-41 defeat that got Trojans coach Lane Kiffin fired, the Sun Devils played a flat game against Notre Dame in Cowboy Stadium. That, however, would be their last regular-season defeat. They rolled up seven impressive wins in a row and won the South and earned home-field advantage in the Pac-12 title game.

Most notable was a road victory at No. 14 UCLA -- the Sun Devils had been notoriously inconsistent on the road -- and a 58-21 beatdown of archival Arizona.

While Stanford pushed Arizona State around in both meetings this fall, knocking the Sun Devils out of the Rose Bowl, it clearly was a satisfying season in Tempe. The Sun Devils are led by DT Will Sutton, two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and QB Taylor Kelly, who earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors. The only bad news over the final part of the season was an injury to RB Marion Grice, who missed the last two games and is questionable at best for the Holiday Bowl.
-- Ted Miller

vs.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS BREAKDOWN
Momentum is a strange thing. Texas Tech had an awful lot of it to start 2013, winning seven in a row to kick off Kliff Kingsbury’s debut season. The team climbed as high as No. 10 in the polls.

[+] EnlargeBaker Mayfield
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsBaker Mayfield will hope to step forward in the Texas Tech QB derby during the postseason.
Then came five losses in a row, by an average margin of 20 points, to the Big 12’s five other bowl-eligible teams. They had the third-worst turnover margin in FBS and second-worst run defense in the Big 12. A promising season fell apart quickly.

This bowl game gives Kingsbury a chance to regain some of that momentum entering the offseason, both for next year’s team and the next few months of recruiting. A victory would be Texas Tech’s first since Oct. 19, a win at West Virginia.

It’s also more time to shore up the weaknesses that the Big 12’s best teams were able to expose. The Red Raiders’ run defense gave up 294 rushing yards per game in its losses and should be seriously tested again.

Perhaps the biggest questions the bowl can answer for Texas Tech is this: Who’s the quarterback? Baker Mayfield started seven games in 2013, Davis Webb started five and Michael Brewer could still be in the mix. Getting another game and 15 extra practices could help bring clarity. -- Max Olson

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