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The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

TXST football season in review

Kobe Arriaga
Texas State redshirt senior linebacker Brian Holloway (0) celebrates a defensive touchdown with his teammates, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023, at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.

The 2023-24 Texas State football season was historic, and The University Star sports staff covered every moment. From the press box, the staff witnessed the Bobcats become relevant on a national stage, securing a bowl bid for the first time in program history and concluding the season with a victory against Rice University in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl.

The season began on December 1 when Texas State announced the hiring of G.J. Kinne, who in 2022 led Incarnate Word to a 10-1 record and an appearance in the FCS Semifinals, to replace Jake Spavital as the 21st head football coach in program history.

Kinne arrived at Texas State with high goals for what the football program could accomplish under his leadership.

“We [Texas State] want to be in bowl games, we want to be in championships. We want to be in the College Football Playoff. That’s the reason I chose to come here, because of the expectation and because of the commitment to the football program,” Kinne said.

It all kicked off in Waco, in the season opener where Texas State defeated Baylor for the first time in school history. The sports staff watched as junior receiver Joey Hobert made a spectacular one-handed grab, landing on the ESPN SportsCenter top ten. This sparked a connection between redshirt sophomore quarterback T.J. Finley and Hobert that we were able to admire all year.

“That was pretty fun,” Kinne said after the Baylor game. “I told the guys it’s a new era of Texas State football, and those guys believed from the moment I got here. I’m really proud of the players, staff, support staff, everyone involved. I’m really happy for our guys. This is a big-time win for our program, on the road against a Big 12 program.”

As success on the field grew, so did the fanbase. The Star’s sports staff witnessed record crowds this season, with the largest attendance coming against Jackson State University in week three when 24,118 attended. In that game, Finley led the Bobcats’ offense to over 70 points in his first home game at Bobcat Stadium. This was the first time Texas State scored that many points since 1920.

The season also had its share of disappointments such as a seven-point loss to UTSA, a four-point loss in the final three minutes against Louisiana-Lafayette and giving up a Sun Belt record 77 points to Arkansas State for the worst loss in its FBS program history.

The climax of the season occurred at home versus Georgia Southern University, where Texas State scored over fifty points in an offensive shootout while securing its sixth win of the year and clinching bowl eligibility. The night ended with the entire football team jumping into the San Marcos River in celebration— a tradition The Star’s sports staff hopes will continue every year.

Individually, we saw some rise as stars like redshirt sophomore quarterback T.J. Finley, and others make history like sophomore running back Ismail Mahdi. In his third collegiate season and first for Texas State, Finley led the Bobcats to their first ever bowl appearance which was then accompanied by a win. When it came to getting down the field, Mahdi had a breakout season with 2,169 all-purpose yards. Across every Division I FBS program Mahdi led the entire country in this category and finished 253 yards above the player with the second-most.

The Bobcats wrapped up the season with a victory against Rice in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl, winning by three scores and satisfying the hungry fanbase that traveled to Dallas ready to witness history and gain insight into the new era of Texas State football.

“I feel like when I took [the Texas State] job, everyone talked about the sleeping giant,” Kinne said. “Well, it’s awake. The way we played [tonight], getting eight wins, getting a bowl victory in Texas against an in-state opponent. I think this is just the beginning.”

The most rewarding part was interviewing and meeting many new faces as the Bobcats welcomed 49 new players under Kinne in his first year. The time spent watching Texas State play, writing recaps and talking to players and coaches created memories that The Star’s sports staff will cherish for years to come.

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