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Quarterback to Back: OSU’s Alan Bowman, Texas A&M’s Jaylen Henderson Will Square Off in Postseason Debuts

Each quarterback will be playing in his first bowl game.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

The Cowboys and Aggies will square off in the Texas Bowl for the second time in four seasons, but there is nothing familiar about this matchup for either team’s QB. In fact, it will be the postseason debut for both quarterbacks involved.

Oklahoma State’s Alan Bowman will cap his sixth collegiate season with his first bowl game. On the opposite sideline, Texas A&M sophomore Jaylen Henderson will also get his first taste of the postseason.

Before we dig into the challenge Henderson presents to OSU’s defense, let’s compare the two passers’ season stats.

QB2B Bowman Henderson
Att. 452 77
Comp. 270 52
Pct. 59.7% 67.5%
Yds 3,058 704
Yds/Att 6.8 9.1
TD 13 6
INT 12 2
Rating 120.75 164.85
QBR 65.5 (50th) N/A
Rushing TDs 2 2

Although Bowman is more of the traditional pocket passer who can move when needed, Henderson can beat you with his arm and his legs.

Despite being a quarterback and appearing in just four games (he appeared on the field for just one carry in one of them), Henderson ranks fourth among Aggie rushers with 104 yards. But he’s also settled in as an effective passer during his 2-1 start.

In his first start, a 51-10 win over Mississippi State, he threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more. He followed that up with two scores in a 38-10 win over Abilene Christian before a good performance in a 42-30 loss to No. 13 LSU.

“The more reps you get, you just tend to get more confident and get a better understanding within the scheme,” Henderson said at A&M’s bowl media availability. “So [with] every rep, I get more confident.”

That he has. Over his three starts, Henderson has been trusted to do more and more in the pocket, and his efficiency have increased steadily with expectations.

Here’s a look at those climbing passing numbers through those starts:

11/19 (57.9%), 150 passing yards, 2 TDs (2 rushing TDs)
16/23 (69.6%), 260 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
25/35 (71.4%), 294 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Bowl Debuts

Texas Tech did not qualify for a bowl game during Bowman’s three seasons in Lubbock, and he did not see the field in any of the postseason games for Michigan the last couple of seasons.

Henderson, who transferred to A&M from Fresno State this past offseason, did not play in either of the Bulldogs’ bowl games in 2021 or 2022.

On top of playing in his first bowl game, Bowman has a chance to captain the Cowboys to 10 wins for just the second time in six years, since Mason Rudolph’s senior season (2017).

“I think 10 wins sounds really nice,” Bowman said on OSU’s season. “Beat our rival in OU, played in the Big 12 championship game and then kind of one or two games you go either way, we’re talking College Football Playoff. … The bowl game is huge. You want to go out as champions, you want to cap the season off with a win.”

Henderson is looking to make a name for himself and build his case for competition with Connor Weigman in the eyes of new head coach Mike Elko.

As Mike Gundy has mentioned more than once, it’s hard to predict exactly what A&M’s offense will look thanks to a rash of transfer portal entries and all the coaching turnover after losing Jimbo Fisher midseason and then offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino ahead of the bowl game. But you can assume the Aggies will try to lean on Henderson’s dual-threat skillset.

There’s always the question of motivation in bowl games, but Henderson has no shortage of reasons to ball out in Houston.

Henderson took the reins after the Aggies lost Weigman to injury and Max Johnson to the transfer portal. Now he’s playing to position himself in the QB competition next spring. If he continues to progress and takes advantage of the extended bowl practices, he should present a challenge for OSU’s defense.

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