RANKING THE STATE

Texas Div. I football rankings: A&M and UT have big tests this weekend

Texas Div. I football rankings: A&M and UT have big tests this weekend
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12.  RICE

As predicted, Rice took another loss and the lost season continues. It's tough to say where it all ends but on the plus side they're off this week. With just two wins in as many seasons under Bloomgren, Rice has trended steadily downward since the 2013 Conference USA Championship and things aren't looking good for the young head coach.

11.  UTEP

So I was saying nice things about these guys playing tough opponents but that they now had a chance to win against UTSA, but they didn't. They lost head to head to the team right below them in the ranking? That means they switched places. Don't worry Miners fans, basketball season is coming soon enough.

10.  UTSA

UTSA came out of the game victorious and that means they moved up one spot over UTEP, whom they beat. That's a cool feeling. This week though UAB comes to visit after beating Rice and they play good football, so this may be a short run of success but if it isn't, they're only one game (and a heads up loss to Baylor) out of the lead in their division.

9.  NORTH TEXAS

Hopefully rust gathered because these guys haven't been playing great and maybe they could use an excuse or at least a change in habits. They travel to Southern Mississippi and now we'll see what direction things are going in, when they lose they don't score more than 30 points, when they win they score over 40. So keep an eye on the scoreboard.

8.  TEXAS STATE

After two wins in a row and a week off to feel great about themselves Texas State is hosting UL Monroe, another team they can beat if they play well. Let's see if these guys have figured out what winning football looks like yet. UPDATE: They haven't and they lost.

7. TEXAS TECH

Tech turned in its biggest win of the year, beating Oklahoma State as a 10-point underdog. The Red Raiders get a chance to back that up with a win at unbeaten Baylor. Back to back wins from the underdog position would launch this program back into the low end of some of the ranking metrics and sets an opportunity for them to finish the season strong.

6. HOUSTON

Houston seems to be trying to settle things and right the ship, Cincinnati is a good program but this is a possibly winnable game for Houston. Let's see what they put together this weekend. Houston is currently a hard program to judge just because of all the turmoil that's swirled through the program this year, but winning and losing is ultimately the way we tell the story in football, so a win here helps to further settle things down.

5. TCU

TCU is off this week. That win against Kansas looks less and less worthwhile after completely dropping the ball against Iowa State, and for those who have been reading this with me weekly know that I think time off after a loss is the worst thing for a football team, so lets see how TCU handles it.

4.  SMU 

For the first time since the death penalty was laid on SMU over twenty years ago, the Mustang are ranked now. They squeaked out a dramatic win against Tulsa and are now off this week. The run they've been on is impressive and I'm not ready to bump them over Texas A&M, even though the nation has, because the Aggies are hosting Alabama this weekend but that might change next week.

3. TEXAS A&M

Well, this is really their last chance to stay in the top three. Let's see what happens this week, I mean I think they're going to lose, but maybe not.

2.  BAYLOR

They won while A&M was off, we'll see what happens this week. I think Baylor will win against Tech and A&M will lose and SMU is off this week, so more than likely there won't be much change here. In my opinion Baylor needs to keep winning to hold onto it's position in the rankings more than a program like A&M, considering there are zero quality opponents on the list of teams they've beaten so far.

1.  TEXAS

Well this is the big one, The Red River Rivalry. Jalen Hurts just made the grave mistake of downplaying the importance and size of this rivalry. This is the most dangerous game on Oklahoma's schedule, I think and the one game where they see it coming and may not be able to stop it. Here we go.

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Suns defeat Rockets, 110-105. Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

Phoenix All-Star Devin Booker and Houston rookie Cam Whitmore got into a minor scuffle midway through the fourth quarter Thursday night and both players were called for a technical foul.

With a couple big blocks on the ensuing possession, Suns center Jusuf Nurkic was there to back his star teammate.

Booker scored 35 points, Kevin Durant added 24 and the Suns held off the Rockets 110-105, with the teams set to meet again in Phoenix on Saturday night.

Nurkic had 16 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks before fouling out. His biggest moment came in the fourth, when he stuffed Whitmore twice on the possession following the scuffle, drawing huge roars from the Phoenix crowd.

“Very important — that's the team sticking together,” Booker said. “That goes a long way. That's what you need when things get tough, it gets to the thick of things and the energy is high. You want to know you have people on your team that are built like that.”

Booker scored 20 points in the first quarter to help give the Suns an 18-point lead they would never relinquish. He has scored at least 20 points in an NBA-high six quarters this season.

Three-time All-Star Bradley Beal missed his fifth straight game because of a hamstring injury.

The Suns took an 86-75 lead into the final quarter. Houston cut the advantage to six midway through the fourth, but Booker responded immediately with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to nine.

That led to the brief skirmish between Booker and Whitmore. Tempers stayed hot over the next few minutes — Houston's Alperen Sengun fouled out and then got two quick technicals, earning an ejection.

Booker hit both of the technical free throws, Nurkic followed with his two free throws from Sengun's foul, and that pushed the Suns' lead to 99-84. The Rockets would cut the lead to four with 16.9 seconds left, but Royce O'Neale hit two free throws to end the threat.

Jalen Green led Houston with 34 points. Fred VanVleet added 21. The Rockets connected on just 11 of 45 3-pointers and shot 33.3% from the field overall, which was their worst percentage of the season.

“It wasn't one of our better nights as far as guys getting open looks and making the extra pass,” Rockets coach Ime Udoka said. “We had a few guys who had it going, but a few guys who were struggling.”

Phoenix has won seven of its past 10 — and nine in a row at home — as it tries to stay in the top six of the Western Conference playoff race and avoid the play-in tournament. The sliding Rockets have lost eight of 10.

“We're getting confident in this building,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said.

Booker's big first quarter pushed the Suns to a 33-17 lead. The four-time All-Star made 8 of 10 shots from the field, including a 33-foot 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Phoenix settled for a 64-53 halftime lead. Booker had 26 points before the break while Green led Houston with 21.

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