Texas State football became bowl eligible for the first time in school history Nov. 2 with a 37—21 victory over Idaho.
The Bobcats became the second fastest program in history to become bowl eligible after joining the Football Bowl Subdivision. Marshall University was the fastest program to reach bowl eligibility after joining the FBS in 1997.
When Texas State became bowl eligible, the team possessed a record of 6—3, but went on to drop its final three games to end with a .500 record on the season. The only other team to lose its last three conference games in the Sun Belt was Georgia State, which lost 12 games.
When it comes to the success of a season, most people remember how a team finishes, not how it starts. In its final three games, Texas State registered a negative 62 point differential, the most allowed by any Sun Belt Conference team.
Texas State possessed the number one ranked rush defense, allowing 147.4 yards. The Bobcats were often able to compete on the defensive side of the ball, but could not generate any offense.
If the season had ended after the Idaho win, Coach Dennis Franchione and the Bobcats would have received an A+ for the idea of starting freshman quarterback Tyler Jones against Wyoming. Giving the reins to Jones foreshadowed a developmental year for the Bobcats.
Jones finished with 1,130 yards passing and a completion percentage of 62.5. Connecting on eight touchdown passes, Jones concluded the season with a passer efficiency of 132.07.
The Bobcats struggled in the aerial attack, ranking last in Sun Belt pass offense. Texas State averaged 154.8 yards per game, and they were the only team in the Sun Belt to not accumulate more than 2,000 yards passing. The Bobcats recorded the worst pass efficiency for the season with 112.1.
Jones was accompanied by a youthful backfield including sophomore running backs Robert Lowe and Chris Nutall. The fourth ranked rushing attack of Lowe and Nutall was not enough to uplift the last ranking total offense with 326.2 yards per contest in the conference.
Lowe gave Bobcat fans a glimpse of the future while finishing second in rushing with 945 yards, just 55 yards shy of his season goal. Lowe averaged 78.8 yards per game and finished with nine touchdowns. Nutall accounted for six touchdowns while racking up 477 yards. Nutall recorded a season long 77-yard run and averaged 43.4 yards per game.
Collectively as an offense, the Bobcats marked the lowest amount of first downs in the conference, averaging 16.1. Texas State was the only team to not register more than 200 first downs in the Sun Belt. The Bobcats posted the second worst conversion rank for third downs.
With such a young offensive team, including the offensive-line, Texas State was anticipated to be the second most penalized team. The Bobcats averaged 62.6 yards per game in penalties.
Texas State accomplished a lot of firsts this season but losing three straight to end the year hurt the team in the grading and might ultimately cost the Bobcats the biggest goal—a bowl game.
*If the Bobcats were to make a bowl game, grade would be A+.