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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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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Mauricio Dubon has stepped up big for Houston. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

So all it took to rouse the Astros into playing stellar baseball was competition that got their attention? It’s not that simple but taking two out of three from the Blue Jays followed by a three game sweep of the Braves in Atlanta and then winning two of three from the Rays in St. Petersburg sure seems to have order restored in Astroworld. A weekend rematch of last fall’s World Series vs. the Phillies should hold their attention.

Who saw this coming?

Raise your hand if you had Mauricio Dubon having a 20 game hitting streak this season. Hand down liars! The Astros have one Hall of Fame second baseman in Craig Biggio. They have a future Hall of Fame second baseman candidate in Jose Altuve. Dubon is probably bound for the Honduran Sports Hall of Fame if such a thing exists but Cooperstown will never be calling him. Nevertheless, Mauricio Dubon now has a longer hitting streak than Biggio ever compiled or than Altuve has yet to compile. That sounds ridiculous but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Biggio’s career best hitting streak was an 18 gamer in 2001. Altuve hit in 19 straight during his Most Valuable Player Award-winning 2017 season. The longest hitting streak by any Astros’ second baseman belongs to Jeff Kent, 25 games in 2004. Amazingly, Dubon is within striking distance. He is ten games away from the Astros’ franchise record hitting streak, the 30 game stretch posted by Willy Taveras in 2006. Funny thing about Taveras is he was a poor offensive player overall in 2006. He hit .278, but rarely walked (just 34 walks in 587 plate appearances), and had next to no power which added up to a weak .672 OPS.

Dubon has been terrific, but Altuve need not bone up on Wally Pipp. If unfamiliar, in 1925 Pipp was the Yankees’ starting first baseman who missed a game because of a headache and was replaced by Lou Gehrig. Gehrig next missed a game 14 years later. There is zero question that as soon as Altuve is ready to rejoin the Astros he reclaims his position and Dubon goes to the bench. Well, unless a month from now Dubon’s hitting streak is intact and making Joe DiMaggio spin a little in his grave.

Things continue to go poorly for the other half of the right side of the Astros’ infield. Jose Abreu drags a .554 OPS into the weekend. Frame of reference: Martin Maldonado had a .600 OPS last season, .573 in 2021. Maldonado has finished a season with an OPS worse than .554 just once in his career (.520 in 2013). Abreu’s extra base hits tally is a paltry four, all doubles. It’s still early, but less so by the day. Counting last season and this, Abreu has one home run in his last 80 games played. He has 104 at bats and drawn four walks.

Magnificent Maton

Back to the subject of unexpectedly outstanding Astros with a tip of the cap to Phil Maton. He was mediocre last year (though it was his best MLB season to date) and had his season end ignominiously with a broken hand incurred by punching a locker after a poor outing in the 162nd and final game of the regular season. He was not missed at all in the postseason. No higher than sixth in the bullpen pecking order coming into this season, Maton has been near perfect thus far. He’s made 10 appearances, pitched 11 2/3 innings giving up just two hits, walking just one while striking out 13. Earned run average: 0.00. Like Ryne Stanek in the Astros’ pen, Maton is a free agent after this season.

Pirates handing out the booty

The Pittsburgh Pirates gave outfielder Bryan Reynolds a seven year 100 million dollar contract extension this week. The Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s been widely reported as an eight-year extension, but that’s wrong. It’s seven years on top of the contract he already had for this season, plus a 20 million dollar option for 2031 that carries a two million dollar buyout. Reynolds is more than two years older than Kyle Tucker, and not as good. He could have become a free agent after the 2025 season, which is when Tucker can hit the open market. The Astros refusal to this point to consider longer than seven years for Tucker is increasingly questionable. Reynolds got 100 million new dollars guaranteed. A seven-year extension for Tucker would likely take at least 150 million. Astros’ revenues dwarf Pirates’ revenues.

Crunching the numbers

Amazing if not significant stat: Dating back to last August the Astros have now won their last 17 “getaway” games, meaning the last game of a series before travel required to get to the next series.

Amazing and not wholly insignificant stat: The Astros remain undefeated in games Maldonado wasn’t the catcher, now 7-0. Maldonado is batting .143 with a .440 OPS, and this week added his MLB-leading third passed ball of the season. Still small sample size, but the Astros’ team ERA is lower when Maldonado is not the catcher.

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Stone Cold ‘Stros is the weekly Astro-centric podcast I am part of alongside Brandon Strange and Josh Jordan. On our regular schedule it goes up at 3PM Monday on the SportsMapHouston YouTube channel, is available there for playback at any point, and also becomes available in podcast form at outlets galore. Such as:

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