RANKING THE STATE

Texas Div. I Football Rankings: Houston's up, down season continues

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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

Remember how I was saying last week that if they won against UTSA they could essentially save this season? Well, we're on to Plan B which is I suppose is keep losing. I'm honestly not filled with much hope for this program as it's going currently. Six years removed from a division title and five years removed from their last bowl appearance, under Mike Bloomgren they are 2-18 and those two wins were not this season. Where's the light for this team? Where's the hope? Does Coach Bloomgren wear a ski mask when he gets his paychecks? Because he is robbing this program. They are in a bad conference and still somehow watching everyone else pull away. Anyway, Southern Mississippi comes to town and the beatings will continue until morale improves.

11. UTEP

Turns out the Miners were underdogs because they were going to lose. I mean, I think we all knew that but still, it bears stating, they lost. Their season isn't going much better than Rice's but they did beat the 2A Houston Baptist Huskies, giving them something Rice doesn't have, a win. They are both winless in conference play and at the bottom of the standings but hey, someone has to be and they seem happy to be there. Louisiana Tech is coming to town and all projections are that the losing will continue. The Dana Dimel rebuild is in year 2 and at some point there will be questions if even the program whisperer can save UTEP.

10. UTSA

UTSA took care of business against Rice and now get to sit back and watch most of the teams above them in the Conference play. If they're lucky they'll gain some ground on everyone while being off, if not well they get to play A&M next weekend, so good luck with that.

9. NORTH TEXAS

It's a good thing the team with the most words in their name wasn't spotted a touchdown or the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders would have won over the North Texas Mean Green. But in all seriousness North Texas won a close one and are rewarded with traveling to visit the Charlotte 49ers. While the 49ers do have a few wins to their credit, they are winless in conference and I don't think North Texas wants to be the first team to lose to them.

8. TEXAS STATE

Fresh off a loss to Monroe and a bye week to think about it, Texas State is now on the road to Arkansas State. They aren't favored and the predictions aren't pointing to a win but hey, you never know. This is a program that is still right in contention in the Sun Belt being only one win behind the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. If they can rally the troops and get a win this weekend, they stay right in the hunt for a shot at a conference title game and considering how rough the start of the season was, this is great news.

7. TEXAS TECH

I wonder if at the end of this season, Red Raider fans will look back at that Baylor game as their turning point. If the calls had gone their way they win (probably) and then everything is different. As it is, they lost to Iowa State and now are on the road at Kansas who just went toe to toe with The Longhorns and lost on a last second field goal. Now granted the Jayhawks have been up and down all year so it's tough to say which version comes to play this week but if it's the good version, does Texas Tech have enough to pull it out?

6. HOUSTON

Houston won but close. The Cougars now host SMU in a game that isn't likely to go as well for them as last week did. I've made it clear how I feel about this team, the internal turmoil and strife is a product of a Head Coach that is making unprecedented moves that have garnered criticism nation-wide. All that being said, they did win and you can't fault teams for winning. I think there's plenty wrong with this team including Head Coach Dana Holgorsen's son playing quarterback this week after asking a potential Heisman winner to sit after going 1-3 to start the year and also the Coach was caught on camera being completely inappropriate in how he talked about one of his student athletes. Let's see how even more adversity shapes the rest of the season for this program mired in controversy.

5. TCU

That loss to Kansas State may be the thunder before the storm. There is a very real chance this team doesn't win again the rest of the year and that isn't me being mean and I'm not sure they should even be mad about losing the next five with the Texas Tech game being the only one I think they have a good chance at winning. They play #15 Texas this week and then it's a murderer's row of a schedule with Oklahoma State, #14 Baylor, the aforementioned Texas Tech and #5 Oklahoma before finally hosting West Virginia to end this season. Times are tough in Fort Worth.

4. TEXAS A&M

A win has to feel good after the brutal season the Aggies have been having. They are favored in this contest as Mississippi State comes to town and now there's some real hope building in Kyle Field. The next three games actually look winnable with UTSA and South Carolina after Mississippi State before the season finishes off with Georgia and then the juggernaut that is LSU. Finishing 7-5, and getting a bowl opportunity, while technically one game worse than Fisher's first year with the program is still a great finish to such a hard schedule for this season.

3. SMU

They beat Temple, which they should have. They are looking good, ranked #16 in the country and playing really good football. They now make the short flight down from Dallas to Houston and visit the confusing Cougars. With projections pointing to a likely win, this is one of those "Don't screw it up" games that SMU has to learn to look out for. Playing as the favorite is very different than playing as the other team and that's a difference SMU may have trouble adjusting to.

2. BAYLOR

They pulled out a win but going into halftime this was a close game and Oklahoma State's defense looked like they had the Bear's number. But when the teams came back out onto the field for the second half it's like Baylor had switched jerseys with another team and suddenly they went from down 3 to up 4 by the end of the third quarter and they pulled away in the fourth. Maybe they just had some bad football in their system they needed to play through and they finally are over it, but they looked totally different in the second half of that game. Anyway, they get the week off to celebrate their success before hosting West Virginia on Halloween night.

1. TEXAS

Last week I said if Texas beats Kansas they get to feel better about themselves… That was based on the assumption they wouldn't need a last second field goal to beat them. I also said last week I thought it was clear they were the best team in Texas… That was also based on the assumption they take care of business. Now look, a win is a win and I do think they will finish the year ahead of A&M, SMU and Baylor but I'm less confident about that this week than I was last week, and they were coming off a loss last week. This week they go to Fort Worth and I ASSUME win going away.

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Houston needs a win to advance

ALWC Game 2 Preview: Astros vs. Twins

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

It took all nine innings, but the Astros rallied late and took Game 1 by a score of 4-1 and are in the driver's seat in this best-of-three series. They'll return to Target Field, home of the Twins, on Wednesday afternoon to try and get the win and advance to the ALDS. Here's what you need to know about Game 2:

Game Facts

When: Wednesday, 12:08 PM Central

Where: Target Field - Minneapolis, Minnesota

TV: ESPN 2

Streaming: ESPN App

Pitching Matchup: Jose Urquidy+ vs. José Berríos.

Series: HOU leads 1-0.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central) Location Pitching Matchup
Game 1 Astros 4, Twins 1 Target Field, Minneapolis Greinke vs. Maeda
Game 2 Wed 9/30, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis Urquidy+ vs. Berríos
Game 3* Thu 10/1, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis McCullers Jr.+ vs. Pineda+

* If necessary.
+ Projected starters.

Game Storylines

Houston's offense has to get going earlier

The Twins' error in the ninth inning in Game 1 was a gift for the Astros that they were able to take advantage of and score the winning runs. It's unlikely to be handed another chance like that in the postseason, so in Game 2, it's paramount that Houston creates their own opportunities at the plate.

The good news is, every batter in the lineup was able to reach base in the first game, either by hit or walk. However, they would go 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine on base during the game. Because they can't expect to have two pitchers to combine for a one-run game on Wednesday, they will have to carry over the momentum from the end of Game 1 into Game 2 to build a lead their bullpen can carry.

Trust your arms to navigate through

Whether it's Jose Urquidy, who is the likely candidate, or anyone else who ends up starting Wednesday's game, the Astros have to be prepared to have a longer stretch of innings filled by their bullpen. Despite his struggles to end the regular season, Greinke did well only to allow one run to the Twins over his four innings in Game 1.

You should expect a similar outcome in Game 2, where hopefully your starter can hold the Twins at bay for as long as they can before needing to make the change to relievers. It will be interesting to see how Dusty Baker plays that situation, mostly dependent on the score at the time, as he could have someone like Cristian Javier come in for multiple innings. The only thing the Astros shouldn't do is fire too many of their bullets and put their chances in a potential Game 3 at risk.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

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