THE TEXAS REPORT

Ranking the Texas Div. 1 schools: A&M stumbles as SMU rises up the rankings

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Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio and Sports. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!


12. RICE

This season isn't looking up for Rice after a brutal loss to Wake Forest. This is the team though with the least to prove and just want to survive this season in better shape than how they finished last year. None of that starts here this week against Texas though.

11. TEXAS STATE

So last week I wrote they probably aren't the 11th worst team in the state but they were down. Well, they stayed down and this week they play SMU and another loss basically locks them in here at the bottom of the list.

10. UTEP

At 1-1, they at least are better than Texas State and Rice right now, but the Texas Tech game was brutal and you hate to have time off after a bad loss. A lot of coaches talk about time off is the hardest thing in a season, if you're winning you want to keep playing and if you're losing then you want to get rid of that funk as possible. On the plus side you can't lose to the bye week.

9. UTSA

So UTSA lost to Baylor and honestly the only reason they didn't move down is because UTEP lost to Texas Tech so they can all stay in the same spots but be sad about it. Army's coming to town and they've been playing and playing well, so it'll be interesting to see how UTSA can prepare for the triple option offense.

8. NORTH TEXAS

They lost to SMU. They should have been a little bit better than SMU but they weren't and now Cal is inviting them to town and things don't look to get better this week. It's always hard to drop a game with a hard game on the schedule coming up, they call them "trap games" and honestly this is what happens when teams lose focus. Hopefully they can get it back this week.

7. TEXAS TECH

Like I talked about last week, they beat a team they should have beat. The expectation of a win was high and the team took care of business. The real test comes this week, on the road at Arizona. They aren't my pick to win, so an upset would certainly help their case for dominance in the best state in the country.

6. SMU

SMU came out on top, and if you tuned in last week, you saw I predicted they might. They were the team most likely to steal one from this list last week. SMU is now poised to be the darling of the list if they can keep momentum going and beat Texas State which they really should considering they are at home and coming off a good win. Although this is the one where teams can get too excited and experience a letdown. SMU is a team that can go either way this week.

5. BAYLOR

Baylor won, which was the expectation and taking care of business is expected but not rewarded, so they stay in fifth place. They're off this week so there isn't any real pressure or expectation of progress but we'll keep an eye on it.

4. HOUSTON

This might just be the up and down season that comes with starting up a new program after a failed program. They beat Prairie View which they should have, but now they face #20 Washington State and a win would be massive for this program, especially at this time in the season. If they lose though, it isn't a big upset but it's kind of how this season may go.

3. TCU

Coming up this week is Purdue, on the road at the Boiler Makers. This is a tough game but winnable and would be a program boosting win nationally. This is one to watch this week.

2. TEXAS A&M

Texas A&M went out and under performed against Clemson honestly. I thought Clemson and A&M were closer than this but it turns out they aren't. Now the real question becomes, is Clemson that much better than this many programs or is A&M worse than we thought? This week we shouldn't learn much as Lamar shows up to take a beating.

1. TEXAS

That was an awesome heavyweight fight between two programs but someone has to lose and someone has to win. Texas coming out the other side of this knows they played well and belong with the big boys this season. Rice is coming to town and that isn't a problem unless they aren't paying attention to this week which is a possibility.

Feel free to check out my brand new comic book Another Day at the Office or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help people struggling with cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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Jose Altuve is on a roll. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

And then there were six. Games left in the Astros’ regular season. Three vs. Tampa Bay then three vs. Philadelphia, all at Minute Maid Park. The first three are important for the Rays as they jockey for Wild Card positioning with the Blue Jays and Mariners. The second three games decide playoffs or no playoffs for the Phillies as they try to stave off the Brewers. The Astros have nothing to play for with regard to the standings but it’s still a fun finish to another fabulous season. 102-54! Matching or topping the franchise record of 107 regular season wins would be grand, but it’s not a goal they’re going to push the limits to achieve. There are a couple individual pursuits of note this final week. We’ll hit those then get to truly important stuff to be settled on before the Astros start their postseason October 11.

Crunching the numbers

Three weeks ago I wrote that Jose Altuve needed a tremendous finishing kick to get there, but that his first .300 batting average season since 2018 was within striking distance. He promptly went one for eight over his next two games, lengthening the odds against him. In 15 games since Altuve has sizzled, banging out 21 hits in 54 at bats for a .389 average. So with six games to go he’s at .297. If Altuve gets 20 more official at bats he needs eight hits.

Yordan Alvarez’s assorted maladies sure cause some indigestion. The knee history, the hands, and now an ankle roll. Yordan is still four RBI short of joining Kyle Tucker with 100+. They’d be the Astros first 100+ tandem since…just three years ago when Alex Bregman (112) and Yuli Gurriel (104) did it.

Setting the playoff rotation

The playoff schedule is stupid in spots, dictated by television. The Astros against To Be Determined in their best-of-five American League Division Series will have game one Tuesday October 11, then a day off before game two Thursday, then a day off before game three Saturday (same is true for Yankees vs. To Be Determined). That’s ridiculous, and gives longtime Astros fans Kevin Brown nightmares (see 1998 NLDS). Unless there’s a three game sweep, game four would be Sunday. Should the series go to a decisive fifth game, there is no off day between games four and five. This impacts starting pitcher planning. Obviously the Astros go Justin Verlander in game one and Framber Valdez in game two. Almost certainly Lance McCullers gets the ball in game three. Then (unless the series is a sweep) there is a decision to be made. First, with the two off days Verlander would be available on four days rest. Up 2-1 last year, after a rainout the Astros brought back McCullers on a shorter four days rest (game one was a night game, game four a day game) and Lance blew out his arm again. If up two games to one, pitching Verlander on “normal” four days rest to go for the kill would take him out of the American League Championship Series until game three, and that would be his only starting availability in the ALCS unless you’d foolishly bring him back on three days rest if there was a game seven. So, if up 2-1 the smarter play is to start Cristian Javier in game four which has Verlander ready to go in a do-or-die game five or if the Astros advance in four, game one of the American League Championship Series. If down 2-1 and you pitch Verlander, if there’s a game five it’s the guy you passed over in game four, or Framber on three days rest.

Yes, Javier in game four, over Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia because quite simply, Javier is better. Unless Verlander or Valdez gets knocked out early, committing Javier to a bullpen role where he’d throw two or three innings vs. the six or so you’d expect out of him as a starter doesn’t make sense, definitely not with the first round schedule. Presumably Urquidy or Garcia will be on the roster for long reliever duty (carrying both would be poor roster management). The Astros have the best bullpen in the Major Leagues. Getting cute and using Javier over Ryne Stanek, Rafael Montero, or Ryan Pressly would be silly. Over Hector Neris or Bryan Abreu? Maybe. When Javier is vulnerable it’s walks and home runs that typically get him, so bringing him in in a tight seventh or eighth inning spot would be a dubious choice given the high caliber alternatives.

As for the roster, teams can change it round by round. Carrying 13 pitchers in a best-of-five with two scheduled off days is impractical. The Astros should carry Yainer Diaz or Korey Lee as a third catcher and David Hensley as an extra utility option. 12 pitchers: Verlander, Valdez, McCullers, Javier, Urquidy OR Garcia, Pressly, Montero, Stanek, Neris, Abreu, Will Smith, Hunter Brown OR Phil Maton.

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