RANKING THE STATE

Texas Div. I football rankings: A&M falls as SMU climbs

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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 week Rice is playing at UTSA and while they probably won't win but here's the thing, if they do win, they are actually right back into contention in the Conference USA standings. They're only two losses behind first place Louisiana Tech (although they did lose to them so that doesn't help) so if Rice gets off this six game skid, they could in theory still save their season. I'm not sure if that's good news or bad news, but there it is.

11. UTEP

After an off week to sit and sulk in their losses, they now get a chance to play some meaningful season saving football. Just like with Rice, we're still early enough in conference play that a win saves the season and in theory rights the ship. Now they are massive underdogs going on the road to Florida International, but hey, maybe.

10. UTSA

UAB came to town and played the kind of good football they normally do. Last year's conference champs put a hurting on The Roadrunners but honestly it was expected. This week Rice comes to town and this is a chance to actually start climbing some rungs on that Conference USA ladder.

9. NORTH TEXAS

So it turns out North Texas was still trending downward last weekend and the losing has continued, now 2-4. Middle Tennessee State University has done The Mean Green the favor of coming down to Texas and probably will lose to North Texas, unless the school with the most words in their name gets spotted a touchdown.

8. TEXAS STATE

After a stretch of success, Texas State dropped a much-needed game against UL Monroe and now they're off this week. Hopefully they're watching game film, studying tendencies and avoiding the mentality that they have to sit around and stew in a loss, which as regular readers have noticed I think is the hardest thing for college teams to deal with because ultimately they're kids. Winning feels good and losing hurts, then having time off to think about whatever happened the weekend before can be a bonus or a detriment. Let's see which way they go with this time off.

7. TEXAS TECH

Poor, poor Texas Tech. Losing a heart breaker to Baylor in the second overtime, that if you're a Red Raider Alum should never have happened after a fumble recovery was waived off by the officials as an illegal snap (I honestly can't remember the last time I've seen that call in an important moment in a game) that would have given the ball to Tech needing only a field goal or touchdown to win. But now here they are, upsetting Oklahoma State and one play and a score away from a second upset in as many weeks, going from potentially being at least No. 21 where Oklahoma State is now to unranked where Tech is currently. But there's no time to whine, a win against traveling Iowa State at least keeps Texas Tech in striking distance of the top of the Big 12 standings.

6. HOUSTON

This team has become like a telenovela my Dad's mother-in-law watches. So much drama, where do we even begin? Ok, how about we set aside the recent news of an offensive lineman leaving the team and destroying them on twitter after being told his commitment to the team was being questioned while playing on a medically bad knee? How about we set aside the audacity of a program questioning the commitment of their student-athletes (who are still unpaid) while having "star" players red-shirt and bail on this season to be ready for another campaign next year while everyone else is still dressing and playing and bleeding and sweating for this program for this year? They lost to Cincinnati in a game that while they weren't favored I think they could have won if two quarterbacks hadn't thrown four picks and a backup running back (who wouldn't be playing if you were in the game with all your players on the roster still) coughed up one also. If you lose by 15 points but spotted the other team five possessions, then you could have won. The Cougars travel to the Huskies where they should win, but does it matter?

5. TCU

After getting drummed by Iowa State and then having a week off, The Horned Frogs travel to Kansas State for their last warm up game before they face Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma in the following five weeks. This game is their last dress rehearsal before every snap counts with their season swinging in the balance. I don't think the second half of this season goes well so I hope for the program's sake they win this week.

4. TEXAS A&M

In some ways it feels unfair to punish Texas A&M for having one of the harder schedules in the state but that is the plight of an SEC team that also schedules Clemson (yikes) as an out of conference opponent. Three losses after only six games isn't a great place to be in, even if two of the three losses were to the number 1 team in the country at the time and the other loss was to a top ten team at the time. I totally respect the program for scheduling tough opponents but moral victories don't count in the standings. This week The Aggies visit Ole Miss and should get themselves back over .500 for the season.

3. SMU

Coming into this week ranked in the top 20 and looking at a remaining schedule full of winnable games, The Mustangs have got to be feeling pretty proud of themselves. However, before anyone just hands them the American Athletic Conference Championship, let's see if they stay focused and take care of business against visiting Temple. They should, but this is why we actually play the games and not just pick winners and losers, let's see what happens.

2. BAYLOR

So Baylor beat Tech but it wasn't in the convincing sense I expected to see. Baylor, who had been rolling most opponents and winning by more than in a touchdown in all but one game coming into last week looked very beatable against The Red Raiders. It wasn't the kind of game you would expect from a highly ranked, Big 12 leading, trying to make the playoffs type of team. This week they travel to Oklahoma State, who has been off since their upset loss to Texas Tech. This is where college sports can get weird, Oklahoma State is currently ranked higher than Texas Tech who they lost to, and if they beat Baylor who did beat Texas Tech it's only going to get weirder ranking wise. This is going to be a must watch game for fans of the Big 12 because Texas and Oklahoma and TCU will also have much cheering to do if Baylor loses.

1. TEXAS

Speaking of oddities in the ranking system of College Football and conference play, Texas is the best team in Texas right now without a doubt, however coming off a loss to Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry they are now 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play, putting them a few spots behind Baylor and only just ahead of Texas Tech and TCU in the Big 12 rankings. This weekend Kansas University comes to town and Texas gets to feel much better about themselves if they win.

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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