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Texas Bowl preview: Week 8


Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan and quarterback Sam Keller have some figuring out to do, and fast, if they want to stay afloat in the Big 12 title race.

The Texas Bowl is set for Friday, Dec. 28 at Reliant Stadium. The Texas Bowl is a celebration of the culture, heritage and football tradition of the Lone Star State. The game features teams from the Big 12 and Conference USA. The day begins at 3:00 p.m. with TexFest featuring Texas-themed games, food and music from the Old 97's as well as the team pep rallies and spirit walks. The night ends with the largest holiday fireworks show in Texas so plan to make an entire day for your family at the Texas Bowl. Tickets start at just $15. For all information on the Texas Bowl, visit

As conference play in college football reaches the midway point, the Texas Bowl picture is becoming clearer. Based on how the conference standings look right now, we can start to see which teams may represent the Big 12 and Conference USA at Reliant Stadium on December 28. After Week 8 we will have an even better idea. Let's take a look at the top matchups in each conference:

Big 12

For the second consecutive week, Texas A&Mfinds itself in another game with Texas Bowl implications as the Aggies make the tough trip up to Lincoln to face the NebraskaCornhuskers. Both teams are reeling after tough losses last weekend. Texas A&M is looking to rebound after their 35-7 loss at Texas Tech. One bright spot for the Aggies last weekend was that junior running back Jorvorskie Lane scored the 40th rushing touchdown of his career, tying him with Leeland McElroy for third place on the school all-time touchdowns list. Nebraska is looking to avoid dropping three straight games for the first time since 2005. In last week's loss to Oklahoma State, senior wide receiver Terrence Nunn moved within 21 receptions of Johnny Rodgers' school-record mark of 143.

Speaking of Oklahoma State, the Cowboys prepare to host a participant of last year's Texas Bowl in the Kansas StateWildcats. Oklahoma State's offense was clicking on all cylinders in their 45-14 rout of Nebraska last week. The win snapped their 20-game losing streak against the Huskers. The Cowboys rushed for 317 yards in the victory, marking the sixth consecutive game in which they rushed for more than 200 yards. Kansas State is coming off a 47-20 win over Colorado. The Wildcats were led by senior running back James Johnson's career-high 159 yards rushing to go along with his two touchdowns. The winner of this game will hold at least a tie of the Big 12 South division lead.

In a matchup of two ranked teams, #24 Texas Techvisits the #16 MissouriTigers. The Red Raiders continue to roll after their thrashing of the Aggies last weekend. Junior quarterback Graham Harrell posted his fifth game with more than 400 passing yards, with 425 against Texas A&M. Harrell leads the nation in total offense with 445.7 yards per game. The Tigers are coming off a close 41-31 loss on the road to #5 Oklahoma. Missouri actually held the lead at the end of the third quarter, but three fourth quarter touchdowns by the Sooners put the game out of reach. Junior quarterback Chase Daniel receives most of the publicity for leading the Tigers' offense, but freshman wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is quickly making a name for himself. He ranks fourth in the nation in all-purpose yards with 209.8 yards per game.

Other Big 12 games
#5 Oklahomaat Iowa State
#22 Texasat Baylor
#13 Kansasat Colorado

Conference USA
After a thrilling victory over Rice last week, the HoustonCougars visit the Alabama-BirminghamBlazers. Cougars senior wide receiver Donnie Avery turned in yet another incredible performance with 13 catches for 346 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Blake Joseph will continue to look for Avery in the passing game, as half of Joseph's eight touchdown passes have gone Avery's way. The Blazers are glad to return home to Legion Field where they are undefeated this season. Their offense is going to have a tough time keeping pace with the Cougars' offense. Houston comes in averaging almost 36 points per game while UAB averages just under 22 points per game.

East division-leading East Carolinahosts North Carolina State in a non-conference clash. The Pirates look for their fourth straight win, coming off an exciting 45-42 victory over Texas-El Paso last weekend. After a slow start to the season, the Pirates' offense has erupted the last three weeks, averaging almost 45 points per game during that span. The Wolfpack offense is not performing at that same pace. In their six games so far this season, the Wolfpack have only scored a total of 118 points. Their highest point total was the 38 that they scored against Wofford in their only victory of the season.

In a game featuring two high-scoring offenses, Central Floridahosts the Golden Hurricane of Tulsa. Knights junior running back Kevin Smith failed to surpass the 100 yard rushing mark for the first time this season in their loss to South Florida. Though he did struggle last week with only 55 rushing yards, Smith remains fifth in the nation in rushing with 915 yards. Golden Hurricane quarterback Paul Smith threw for 385 yards and three touchdowns in Tulsa's win over Marshall last week. Smith has thrown for at least 300 yards in every game this season. His 73-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Brennan Marion sealed the win over the Thundering Herd.

Other Conference USA games
Memphisat Rice
Tulaneat Southern Methodist
Southern Mississippiat Marshall

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