The Top 10 Houston Sports Stories of 2012

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Sports in Houston is always an adventure. Whether it was the Luv Ya Blue Oilers being robbed of a trip to the Super Bowl, the Astros losing a world series or the Rockets going back to back in NBA titles, Houstonians have learned to expect the unexpected. This past year was no different for the Bayou City.

We have had some enormous ups with the Texans, some all-time lows with the Astros, the perennially mediocre Rockets and a little of everything from UH football. Today, we look at the highlights and lowlights of the sports year that was 2012.

10. UH (13-1) Wins Ticket City Bowl; Case Keenum Becomes a Texan

The University of Houston went from being in the conversation for a national championship in 2011 to losing their coach and scraping the bottom of the barrel in 2012. It was not a pretty sight. But they did beat Penn State in the Ticket City Bowl and their star QB got his shot in the pros with hometown team the Texans. It could be worse...

9. UH Moves to Big East, Which Disintegrates Before Their Very Eyes

Oh, right. The Coogs just could not seem to catch a break and the woes continue as their move to the Big East appears doomed as the conference rapidly implodes.

8. Astros Clean House

From the front office to the broadcast booth to the dugout to the field to the freaking logo, Jim Crane's hand is likely exhausted from signing pink slips in 2012 -- if not for signing checks. Without question, Crane wants to sweep out virtually every remnant of the previous regime and he has done just that. No telling if it will work, but as Bill Murray said in Groundhog Day when he finally broke the curse, "Anything different is good."

7. Royce White Takes to Twitter

I can't help but feel a little sorry for kids with problems in the era of social media. Take Rockets rookie Royce White. They took a chance on someone diagnosed with clinical anxiety disorder by drafting him in the first round -- they believe he has top five talent -- and he has yet to step on the floor for the team, citing their lack of understanding of his illness. But he has plenty of time to tweet and tweet and tweet about it.

6. Texans Sign Contract Extensions with Arian Foster, Matt Schaub and Duane Brown

For all the team's success on the field, it should be considered a huge success for the team to have inked three key contributors to extensions in the offseason. Not only does this help them deal with looming salary cap issues, but it helps keep the core of a very good offense together for a while longer.

5. Dynamo Make MLS Cup, Lose to Galaxy

The Houston Dynamo made it to the MLS Cup yet again this year, only to lose to the L.A. Galaxy, a team that is, oddly, owned by the same organization as the Dynamo. The 3-1 loss prevented the team from nabbing its third cup in seven seasons, but hope springs eternal for a new season in 2013.

4. Jeremy Lin Signed by Rockets (after being cut the previous year)

No one expected a kid cut by both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets to blow up like he did under the NBA's biggest spotlight in Madison Square Garden last season, let alone an Asian kid from Harvard. But Linsanity was born and the Rockets came a-calling in the offseason, attempting to right a mistake made the year before. Thanks to a "poison pill" bonus, the Knicks were unable to match and Jeremy Lin donned a Rockets uni...again.

3. Rockets Trade for James Harden

Well into training camp and the preseason, a funny thing happened to the Houston Rockets. With memories of the nixed trade with the Lakers for Pau Gasol and spurned by Dwight Howard, GM Daryl Morey pestered his counterpart in Oklahoma City until he relented, sending James Harden to Houston for picks and Kevin Martin. The deal was facilitated by the reigning Sixth Man of the Year's desire to be a max dollar player, something he clearly deserved. Fear the beard.

2. Texans 12-2, AFC South Back-to-Back Champs

Just two seasons ago, the Houston Texans had only had one winning season and never made the playoffs. This year, they are 12-2 and one game away from getting home field advantage for the entire playoffs. It's been quite the turnaround and despite some struggles of late, the AFC South Division champions have reminded us why we are a football city.

1. JJ Watt Dominates the NFL

JJ Watt is not just having a dominant season. He is having one of the single most dominant seasons in NFL history. He defends passes at a higher clip than any defensive lineman ever. He is on pace to set the single-season record for sacks. He is absolutely a menace in the backfield, leading the league in tackles for a loss. He's as brutal against the run as he is in the pass rush. Enjoy this season, football fans. This is one for the ages.

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