RANKING THE STATE

Texas Div I Football Rankings: Texas falls as we have a new No.1

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

They lost again, they keep losing, they keep losing by serious margins. At some point there have to be questions about how are the coaches preparing the players? How are the players feeling about this program? Are players going to want to come here? Is Rice now just a place poor but smart student-athletes go if they want a free but good education and can handle a little body trauma while they do it? The Thundering Herd come to town and probably leave town with an easy victory.

11. UTEP

More losing, and losing and losing. I know the expectations coming into the year were low but they couldn't have been this low. No one could have been looking at a schedule like this one and saying "wow, will we even win three games?" This is not a good campaign from this program. This week they travel to North Texas and I suppose are most excited about the travel back so they can get this season over with.

10. UTSA

I really labored with moving UTSA up on their off week because of how bad North Texas played, but honestly these guys are going to Kyle Field and will likely be right back in this spot next week. Now a win or even a close loss could do wonders for this program but it's likely going to be very much the other way with this and they lose big to the Aggies.

9. NORTH TEXAS

The 49ers beat them. North Texas was the first in conference win for Charlotte which I specifically said the Mean Green should avoid being (are they not reading this column?!). They do get to welcome UTEP to town so if ever there was a chance to bounce back from embarrassment, this is it. However, things could quickly get out of hand with another loss to what is considered an inferior opponent.

8. TEXAS STATE

After another loss, this time to Arkansas State, Texas State now gets to take on the role of spoiler for the rest of the season. They travel to Louisiana and face the Ragin' Cajuns who are still in first place in the West Division of the Sunbelt Conference. While in conference these teams are only one win apart in reality the Cajuns are 5-2 and looked good against Arkansas State two weeks ago and have a long time to sit and watch Texas State play a common opponent; not good news for the Bobcats.

7. TEXAS TECH

It turns out it was the good version of the Jayhawks last week and the Red Raiders didn't have enough to pull it out. Every loss makes the Baylor game matter less and less because it starts to become "well if you couldn't beat Iowa State and Kansas then it doesn't matter if you upset Baylor." This starts to become a doomed season no matter what which is a hard pill to swallow for a team that felt pretty good I bet earlier this year. This week they get to lick their wounds and make a list of reasons the season isn't over and try and finish strong.

6. HOUSTON

They lost but stayed competitive against SMU and it's more of a testament of what could have been than what is happening. Think about it, if they still had their star players, would they have lost the close games they dropped? Where could this season have taken them? But then again they were 1-3 when they did it, so maybe the season was lost for other reasons. They travel to Central Florida where I think the losses continue to add up for this program.

5. TEXAS A&M

So I broke a rule of mine this week and moved A&M down after winning because of who they beat, Mississippi State in comparison to who TCU beat, Texas. I think A&M is finally feeling good and playing great and will likely win again this week as UTSA comes to town. When they do, I'll come back to this, it's a lot more about what else happened this week than it is about how these guys performed. This will be revisited and I want to give full honesty about this, I feel bad, if it makes Aggies feel better of all these schools in Texas the ESPN Football Power Index has A&M the highest over TCU, Texas, SMU and Baylor tied with Washington at 15th in the country.

4. TCU

I was wrong about the Horned Frogs and I apologize. I said they might not win the rest of the year and then they pull away from Texas with 2 minutes left in the game and win by 10. It's a great win and they should feel awesome about it and it puts TCU back in the driver's seat for their season because just as much as I said they face a hard schedule, it means if they keep winning they can really make a year out of it. They travel to Oklahoma State where another win would be another awesome accomplishment.

3. TEXAS

Well last week was my last week making assumptions about this Texas team. It's time to face facts and admit they lost when they shouldn't have including this loss to TCU, bump them down and just move on. They have a month of football left starting next weekend and we'll see what they can make of what's left of their season. This is a big drop but look, SMU and Baylor have been winning and at some point they need to be rewarded for their record and Texas needs to take the hit for their losses.

2. SMU

They tried to screw it up but they managed to save the game and therefore their season and beat Houston. They enjoy the bump up to number 2 this week as much for Texas' failures as for their own successes. It honestly wasn't a great win over Houston and now they travel to Memphis where the oddsmakers are picking Memphis but it's close. That's odd to me because they have Temple in common and while SMU beat Temple soundly, Memphis actually lost close to Temple, making me think this is an SMU win but close.

1. BAYLOR

Baylor hosts West Virginia tonight and are hoping that all the Halloween scares happen off the field. This team is undefeated and playing good football but aren't getting a ton of love in the rankings being outside the Top Ten even though they are undefeated in a power five conference and behind six teams with at least one loss. Baylor does get the love here though, with all that winning putting them in the number spot in this week's rankings.

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Mattress Mack and the Astros host Pearland Little League at Wednesday night's game. Photo by LittleLeague.org

Sure, it’s impressive that the Astros have made four World Series appearances in recent years, but they’re not alone. There’s another baseball team around here that’s also headed to its fourth World Series since 2010.

Pearland defeated Oklahoma, 9-4, on Tuesday to win the Southwest Regional and qualify for the Little League World Series starting Aug. 17 in South Williamsport, PA.

Most fans and media say the Little League World Series is held in Williamsport, but it’s South Williamsport, just a 5-minute stroll across a bridge over the Susquehanna River in north central Pennsylvania.

Pearland is on a torrid 13-game winning streak that swept through district, sectional, state and regional tournaments to earn the Little League World Series bid.

Here’s how difficult the road to the Little League World Series is. There are 15 teams in MLB’s American League. If the Astros finish with one of the two best records, they’ll have to win two playoff series to play in the World Series.

Little League is a little bigger than MLB. Little League is the largest youth sports organization in the world, with 2.5 million kids playing for 180,000 teams in more than 100 countries on six continents.

Pearland, representing East Texas, had to defeat All-Star teams from West Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arkansas and Colorado to win the Southwest Regional. The Little League World Series will host 20 teams - 10 from the U.S. and 10 from international regions.

If you have children that play Little League, or you’re just a fan, attending the Little League World Series should be high on your baseball bucket list.

I covered the Little League World Series in 2010 when Pearland made its first appearance and made it all the way to the U.S. championship game. It may have been my most fun assignment ever.

The Little League World Series is played by 11 and 12-year-olds in Little League’s major division. When ESPN and ABC air these games, they’ll present the players as innocent little kids, like Beaver and Wally or Tom and Huck. They’ll show the kids playing Simon Says with the Little League mascot called Dugout. They’ll ask the kids who’s their favorite big leaguer.

I was a Little League coach. I followed Little League All-Stars across Texas all the way to South Williamsport. These kids are absolute baseball maniacs with $400 gloves, $500 bats and Oakley sunglasses. I thought the Astros might call and ask where they got their super neat equipment.

Especially in Texas, these kids are built tough with long ball power and play year-round travel baseball with high-priced private coaches. This isn’t a choose-up game in the park where kids play in their school clothes, one kid brings a baseball and the players share bats. I looked at some of the Little Leaguers and wondered if they drove to the stadium.

I half-expected, when ABC asked who their baseball idol was, they’d answer “me!”

Here’s how seriously good these kids can play the game. Justin Verlander throws a 97-mph fastball. That’s pretty fast. It’s not rare anymore for a Little League pitcher to reach 70-mph on a fastball. The Little League mound is 46 feet from home plate. A 70-mph pitch in Little League gets to home plate in the same time as a 91-mph pitch from 60 feet 6 inches in MLB.

In 2015, a pitcher named Alex Edmonson fired an 83-mph heater at the Little League World Series. The reaction time a Little League batter had against Alex’s pitch was equal to a Major Leaguer trying to hit a 108-mph fastball. Good luck with that. Alex pitched a no-hitter and struck out 15 batters in six innings at the Little League World Series. Now 20, Alex is a relief pitcher for Clemson.

The Little League World Series is a trip. The easiest way to get there is to fly into Philadelphia and drive to South Williamsport. I sat next to CC Sebathia’s mother on the plane.

Admission to all Little League World Series games is free and snack bar prices are reasonable. A hot dog is $3. Alcohol and smoking are prohibited.

The first Little League World Series was held in 1947. Only 58 players have played in the Little League World Series and later played in MLB. The most famous are Cody Bellinger and Jason Varitek. Only two players from the Houston area made the leap: Brady Rodgers and Randal Grichuk both played on the 2003 team from Richmond, about 30 miles from Houston in Fort Bend County.

While you’re in South Williamsport, you should visit the Little League museum and Hall of Excellence. Among the inductees: Presidents Joe Biden and George W. Bush, Astros manager Dusty Baker, Kevin Costner, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dick Vitale, Rob Manfred and someone who’d later play stadiums in a different way, Bruce Springsteen.

Speaking of Springsteen, I shattered a record at the 2010 Little League World Series. The record was Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. I was talking to a Little League executive while teams were warming up on the field. Born in the U.S.A. came over the stadium loudspeakers.

I told the executive, I’m a big fan but maybe this isn’t the best song you should be playing. The executive asked why not? Well, you might want to listen to the words. Born in the U.S.A. is a depressing song about a U.S. soldier who is sent to Vietnam and can’t find a job when he gets back home. It’s not exactly Yankee Doodle Dandy. You have teams from Asia here (Japan won the tournament that year). The executive said, please tell me you’re kidding. Here’s one verse:

Got in a little hometown jam

So they put a rifle in my hand

Sent me off to a foreign land

To go and kill the (what is considered a slur for Asians).

Later I got an email from the president of Little League International.

“Quite honestly, I've never listened closely to the words of Born in the USA. I see clearly how it is offensive to our Little League friends from Asian nations. I have directed our folks who coordinate the stadium music to discontinue playing it in the future.”

Play Centerfield by John Fogerty instead. The message of that song is, “put me in coach.” Little League couldn’t say it any better.

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