Bobcats Face Midshipmen on National TV
Holding their own in Big-Time Football
By Joe O'Connell, 1:21PM, Fri. Nov. 16, 2012
Sometimes a loss really, truly is a win. Losing is miserable. Your face is squished in the dirt and your ego crushed. But losses can be turning points. Texas State’s wild slugfest with Louisiana Tech last Saturday resulted in a 62-55 loss, but there’s a win hiding under there. It may rear its head during this week’s televised matchup with Navy.
The Bobcats held their own with a La. Tech team that is ranked in the BCS Top 20. The Texas State offense scored seemingly at will, amassing 577 yards of total offense that was almost evenly split: 296 on the ground and 281 through the air from Shaun Rutherford. The QB was also the second-leading rusher with 103 yards, behind Marcus Curry’s 134 yards.
Sure, the Bulldogs countered that with 627 yards of offense, but this game against a nationally ranked team with an explosive offense was as close as the final basketball-ish score implies, and the Bobcats remained competitive until the end. Is there solace in the Bobcats almost beating a Louisiana Tech team that almost beat Texas A&M 59-57 in a game that strongly resembled the contest against Texas State? Hey, didn’t the Aggies beat some team from Alabama last week?
Some fans have been calling for Rutherford to be replaced by backup Tyler Arndt, particularly after a humbling 38-7 loss to Utah State. But he’s now proven himself a keeper and certainly the finest quarterback Texas State has had since dazzling Barrick Nealy in 2005 led the Bobcats through a series of wild I-AA playoff games that ended with two wins, one heartbreaking overtime loss, and unfulfilled hopes of another national championship.
Forget the 3-6 record. This is the best Bobcat football team since that playoff run. It’s also one that is struggling through a first FBS (Big-Time Football!) season of growing up, stretching of wings, taking a few punches to the face, standing up and surviving. Texas State in three straight weeks faced the toughest teams in the dying Western Athletic Conference in San Jose State, Utah State, and Louisiana Tech. The Bobcats lost to all three, but hung tough with San Jose State for a half and came very close to upsetting La. Tech. Utah State? Ouch.
The Bobcats opened the season with a convincing win over what proved to be a sluggish University of Houston team. This week they travel to Annapolis to face a 6-4 Navy team with a strong defense, lots of confidence and an eye ahead to its annual Army-Navy matchup. In other words, Navy is prime for an upset, and if Rutherford and Curry can use last week as a springboard, I’m predicting a Texas State win live on CBS Saturday at 2:30pm.
The Bobcat defense needs to do something, anything to slow QB Keenan Reynolds’ triple-option offense, which averages 391.3 yards per game primarily through the feet of Reynolds and slotback Gee Gee “Gosh Golly” Greene. But this game will likely be about offense for both teams.
Hey, fifth-year senior Curry knows plenty about the Midshipmen. He played for them until a little marijuana and lots of problems with curfews sent him packing. Curry has incentive to excel. Rutherford, one of those junior college transfers that often end their careers playing at schools like Texas State, after last week’s game knows he can play at this level.
Navy lost last week to a so-so Troy team 41-31 to snap their five-game win streak. Troy racked up big yards, both in the air and on the ground. If Texas State can do the same – they can – it will mark an impressive late-season surge in a transition year for a ragtag Bobcat team that is finding its place on the edge of major college football.