RANKING THE STATE

Texas Division I Football Rankings: Baylor blows a huge lead and Texas falls again

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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

They did it, they actually did it! They beat someone, a Division I program at that, and even better an in conference rival. This is great news for the Rice Owls, and just as much for Mike Bloomgren who has to feel a massive weight come off his shoulders for getting a win this year. He needs one more to tie last year's win record and two more with two games left to show progress. Wow this program has a long way to go, remember a few years back when they were conference champs with 10 wins? I know it was a while back now but man, this program is thrilled to a get a win right now and there was a time not too long ago when they were one of the better teams in this conference. They host The Mean Green this week and they need to win out if they want to show growth from last year.

11. UTEP


UTEP lost to the UAB Blazers and now are on the road to New Mexico State University. Rice won so the pressure is officially on. Previously a loss to Rice next week meant only a tie for worst team in Texas but now a loss would actually make The Miners the 12th worst team in Texas. Someone please have some pride and play to win that game next week. And this week too, please, seriously.

10. NORTH TEXAS

If there was ever a team to have on the schedule post a bad loss then a bye week on a schedule it would be Rice University, right? You would take Rice as one of the worst teams in the country this year and you'd say yes right away if someone offered you them on a silver platter. Like if the waiter brought the wrong dish to your table but it looked better is how excited you would be to see Rice on the schedule after the last few weeks, EXCEPT, Rice just won their first game of the year and may be feeling themselves a little bit.

9. TEXAS STATE

Troy crushing Texas State is a massive blow to the season for The Bobcats. It probably isn't going to get much better as they face Appalachian State Mountaineers who are ranked No. 24 right now and are looking to keep on winning. All of the losing is why they dropped down to ninth place and there's probably going to be a little more dropping before it's all said and done.

8. UTSA

The Roadrunners need to stay focused and just keep an eye on the goal of finishing strong and not quitting on this year. Florida Atlantic comes to town and they are looking to rub salt into any wounds UTSA brings into this game.

7. TEXAS TECH

In a stunning loss to TCU, Texas Tech was yet again close to winning a big game but this time late in the fourth quarter gave up the lead. This will be the season that got away and should be both a statement of perseverance and "almost." Football is a game of inches and Al Pacino speeches and this is just another example of that. Imagine the scenario where Tech won those close games Baylor, Kansas and TCU, where would they be both nationally and here on this list? Tough to say. Kansas State comes to town and the close calls are likely to continue.

6. HOUSTON

Memphis put a hurting on Houston and it was a bad one. Memphis came to town and did what a lot of teams have done this year, punched Houston in the mouth and they failed to respond in any real way. The losses are piling up and now Houston is going on the road to visit the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes. They are likely to lose this game being on the road against a team that's about as good as they are, so The Cougars are struggling.

5. TCU

A close win is better than a close loss and TCU came out of Lubbock with a close win. With three different loss differentials being a touchdown or less, TCU's whole season much like Tech's will be measured by the close losses rather than the wins. But you can't go backwards and TCU has to travel to Oklahoma and find a way to win if they want to stay bowl eligible.

4. TEXAS

Texas is now officially in trouble. They've lost all kinds of games they shouldn't have and now are going to Baylor after losing to Iowa State University. It's hard to imagine a scenario where this team pulls it together and actually beats Baylor, but they need to. They need to get it together and start playing good football or they'll go into next weekend.

3. TEXAS A&M

Coming off a great win against South Carolina, Texas A&M now tries its hat in the role of spoiler as they travel to Georgia and try and ruin the Bulldogs season. Ultimately there's a real chance they could pull off a sneaky win here and derail Georgia's shot at an SEC championship game but it isn't the best bet in the world. A&M has struggled this year in big games having lost to Clemson, Alabama and Auburn.

2. SMU

The Mustangs were in the stables this week with a bye but it gave the President of the AAC time to complain that the College Football Playoff Selection Committee has undervalued his entire conference since it was created. He's right, they have been undervalued but not by enough to whine about it and not by enough to actually make a stink. A few weeks ago I was feeling bad about having A&M as low as I did because yes they were losing but they were playing better teams and I looked up all the rankings, strengths of schedules etc. The fact is simply this, SMU doesn't play the kind of competition that A&M did and even though they were winning, they weren't beating anyone of merit. They still haven't and there's no getting around that really. However this week they go to Navy and they need to win to even stay ranked.

1. BAYLOR

They had been playing close games and coming out on top and usually that makes a team happy to get a big lead, and usually a team that's been winning and gets a big lead knows what to do with it and usually a team in a must win knows they can't mess up. All of that being said, they were up early, they were up big and they blew it. There's no getting around it, this kills any chance of back dooring the playoffs, with wins over Oklahoma and then hypothetically beating Texas this week would have made Baylor a real force with only a few weeks left on the whole thing. Instead they let Oklahoma post a record comeback and then when it's all said and done they have Texas this week. The season is slipping through their fingers like sand in an hourglass.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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