RANKING THE STATE

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

UH Dana Holgorsen
UH Football/Facebook

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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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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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