The Houston Bowl is now the Texas Bowl, and is the third different title of the game in its' seven-year existence. It began as the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl from 2000-2001. It became the EV1.net Houston Bowl from 2002-2005.
Kansas State is back in the bowl business after a two-year layoff in 2004 and 2005 ended an 11-year bowl run.
Rutgers is playing in just its third-ever bowl game, and the first against someone other than Arizona State.
Rutgers fans, while ecstatic over their teams' newfound success, have to be at least a little disappointed to see their team end up here after such a great season. Nothing personal against Houston, but the bowl game itself is very low on the totem bowl, especially for a 10-2 team from a major conference. Worst of all, the game is being televised by the NFL Network which isn't carried by cable outlets that serve nearly half of New Jersey and most of New York City. (My cable system doesn't carry the NFL Network or ESPN-U, the latter of which we refer to as "ESPN-You can't see that").
On the upside, both of these schools are celebrating great seasons, and Rutger's Greg Schiano was named Home Depot Coach of the Year.
Kansas State didn't set the world on fire in Ron Prince's first season as head coach, but they did outperform the expectations of most pundits. The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com projected the Wildcats as a 5-7 team. The school logged quality wins over Oklahoma State and Texas, while tying for second in the Big 12 north division with a 4-4 conference record.
Rutgers became one of the season's Cinderella stories as the Scarlet Knights rushed out to a 9-0 start after a dramatic comeback win over then-unbeaten Louisville. But in the final three games, Rutgers suffered an upset loss at Cincinnati and a triple-overtime heartbreaker at West Virginia in the season finale.
By now, most everyone knows that Rutgers has a fairly one-dimensional offense that ranks 7th in the 8-team in Big East in passing and relies extensively on running back Ray Rice. Defensively, Rutgers led the Big East in points allowed, rushing yards allowed, and total yards allowed.
Kansas State passed for a 1,000 yards more than it ran, but KSU is far from being a passing juggernaut. Freshman quarterback Josh Freeman threw just 6 TD passes and was picked off 13 times. But the Wildcats also have freshman sensation running back Leon Patton who ran for a freshman school record 595 yards. Patton had 151 rushing yards and 301 all-purpose yards in the win over Oklahoma State.