RANKING THE STATE

Texas Division I Football Rankings: Baylor makes Big 12 title game;  SMU and A&M lose

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. UTEP

I'm not going to pretend to understand what happened, but Rice won again and UTEP lost again and now there's been movement. There wasn't a huge likelihood that The Miners were supposed to be a great team this year but honestly they weren't so supposed to be this awful either. It's insane to me that either of these particular programs are this bad at this point but here we are. In a battle of the shrugs, Rice travels to El Paso.

11. RICE

Now before we start in on this, I know right away some people are going to say that Rice shouldn't still be behind UNT after just beating them straight up and I do agree with that in some ways. The reality is The Mean Green have just had a better overall season and while this loss hurts the story of this year pretty badly, it doesn't erase the whole year. So here's Rice over UTEP and traveling that way this week. I have been hard on this program all year because they've been losing, but here's there chance to actually finish ahead of where they did last year and to actually show growth and build on last year and start a positive trend for the program overall. All they have to do is win on the road against UTEP.

10. NORTH TEXAS

Wow, I did not see that coming. They lost to Rice? I literally just got done saying that coming off a loss and then a bye week the one team you would love to see coming up on your schedule is Rice. But in the ultimate example of momentum and coming off of a loss and then a bye week, The Mean Green came out and played flat against a team that was starting to play with a little confidence and the longer the game went and they had the lead, the more Rice believed they could win. Eventually Rice cracked open a window but there wasn't enough time left and The Mean Green failed to convert a crucial fourth down that they needed, leaving the spoils to the victor, Rice. This week North Texas hosts UAB in what the oddsmakers are seeing as close but leaning towards UNT for but I have to wonder how all this losing is going to affect the psyche of a team that just three weeks ago had a shot at bowl eligibility but now is playing for pride.

9. TEXAS STATE

Well The Bobcats took that beating like a champ. It wasn't going to be a pretty game but it honestly was the game we all thought it would be. This wasn't a game with a lot of opportunities for the Bobcats and to Appalachian State's credit they weren't going to let a win get away from them and they played the kind of winning, hard football you're supposed to play when you're expected to win games. The teams on this end of the list should be taking notes. The Bobcats travel to the Coastal Carolinas University where they're projected to finish the season with a loss, but this is one of those games they can win and hopefully they try and finish the season on a strong note.

8. UTSA

Last week I mentioned that if The Roadrunners didn't get ready for this game they could blow a game they are equipped to win. Well they weren't ready for this game and they blew a game they were equipped to win. Visiting Florida Atlantic came to town and put down a beating of solid proportions on UTSA and there's no hope of finishing the season .500 now. They do however have a chance to improve their standing in their division with a win getting them potentially as high as fourth, putting them right in the middle of the Conference USA West division. This week they travel to Louisiana Tech who is currently second in their division and while a win won't leapfrog them up it will help them with players, boosters and just overall morale for the season, which is a good place to start next year.

7. TEXAS TECH

A slow start doomed Texas Tech in yet another close loss. These guys just can't catch a break or more accurately can't overcome their own deficiencies and put together two halves of winning football. Playing from behind all second quarter and only scoring three points in the entire first half isn't how you win close games usually and this game was no exception. They needed points late because they don't get them early and that's the root of all of this losing football this year. Tech finishes the season at Texas in a game that certain companies statistical models aren't calling an absolute sure thing which is a compliment to all of those close games, but I'm not expecting much more than another story of "almost got them."

6. HOUSTON

The Cougars actually won the game. I am honestly surprised by that considering how poorly they've been playing lately but they handled Tulsa well and they picked themselves up off the floor after a bad Memphis loss and played some good football. The kickoff return by Stevenson to respond after Tulsa pulled within three was the exact dagger at the exact right time. If Houston had been required to go out there and put together a drive and actually march down the field and score they might have found a way to wilt under the pressure and fail but with a return, and a great one at that, they didn't have time to shoot themselves in the foot. Houston hosts Navy this week in a game that isn't looking great for Cougar fans but they should be used to that feeling by now.

5. TCU

TCU yet again lost close although this time the game wasn't as close as the score suggested. TCU spotted Oklahoma 21 unanswered points before scoring a touchdown of their own early in the second and they were chasing them the rest of the time. They did draw within 4 early enough to maybe push Oklahoma but as has been the story all year when it mattered most, TCU struggled to find that right gear for winning football and couldn't force a punt or turnover that they could then convert into points. As I had pointed out a couple of times late in the season, the second half of TCU's schedule was brutal and while they have stolen a few wins unexpectedly I would actually argue they should be disappointed about being 2-3 in the last five weeks considering who they have beaten and the chances they've had to win games they weren't picked to win, the hard ones. Holding Oklahoma to zero points for all of the fourth considering they gave up 21 points in the first quarter and a couple of minutes into the second is impressive but it also means they couldn't deliver when it mattered offensively. This week the frustration comes to end as they host West Virginia to finish the season.

4. TEXAS

They successfully held Baylor to only 7 points in the first half but they also failed to put up a touchdown at all in the first half themselves, and they eventually lost. This season can't end fast enough for the young Longhorns but you have to think they're frustrated considering what could have been this season and are now hosting The Red Raiders. I'm not confident at all that Texas will win this game and I'm not saying that to be mean or belittling but right now I honestly have to question where their head is even at after all of this bad football.

3. TEXAS A&M

Early on it looked like Texas A&M might go toe to toe with The Bulldogs responding to their field goal with a field goal and then keeping it close, but as the second quarter wound down Georgia pulled away. It's not like their was a huge sentiment around the College Football water cooler that A&M should win this game but that first half looked like they could have. This has been a hard year to judge for Jimbo's Aggies as they just aren't there talent wise to face the tough schedule they had this year playing two different #1s and a couple other top ranked schools as well. A&M thankfully is already bowl eligible so the season doesn't have to end on the awkward note of a trip to LSU which doesn't bode well for the Aggies.

2. SMU

SMU blew a lead and lost a close game to the hard to prepare for Navy. It's happens and this will be the new reality for SMU next year, when you're a good team you have to learn how to play with a lead early in games and how to stay on teams and finish with a win. This has been a great year for The Mustangs and an important season for them gaining national recognition and playing good football for most of the year. They have the opportunity now to build on this success and they can start with hosting the Tulane Green Wave and taking care of conference business.

1. BAYLOR

Early in the season I had this game circled as many others did as the real test for Baylor, as their schedule isn't packed with big programs and it's tough to judge where this program really is nationally until they play real competition and last week and this week were those judge worthy games. Well they blew a huge lead against Oklahoma last week so this week it was important to see them grow and learn from that and they did. While they struggled early to score they then blew it out late and forced Texas to trade field goals to The Bears touchdowns, which isn't good math for winning. Now Baylor is ranked in the Top 10 and facing Kansas University to see if they can even further improve their standing before the end of the season now that they've clinched an appearance in their first ever Big 12 championship game.

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RANKING THE STATE

Texas Division I Football Rankings:

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. UTEP

This wasn't their year and it ends even worse for these guys, losing to Rice. The Miners won one game over three months ago against Divison II Houston Baptist, and it's been a long season since then, but blissfully it's over.

11. RICE

Unbelievably we're here at the end of the season and Rice is sitting better here than they were at the end of the year last year. Improvement and growth is always the name of the game when you're bringing a program back from the dead and they did it here. Congrats Rice.

10. NORTH TEXAS

​Another week, another disappointing loss. While the odds were tilted slightly in favor of UNT, I didn't believe for a second this team would finish strong after losing to Rice last week. Honestly this is a program trending badly and trending in a bad direction, it would surprise me if there aren't talks of maybe changing play calling duties or coordinator responsibilities because what was working in the beginning is no longer working at all for these guys.

9. TEXAS STATE

This was a tough loss for a program that was trying to get right. Coming off the Appalachian State game where they weren't supposed to win at all, it's hard to believe this is a program that only a few weeks ago had managed to win big, but they had. Since then they've struggled to get leads and pull away from teams and this week was no different. A bad season is just good enough for fourth place in the Sun Belt West.

8. UTSA

That was a meaty loss to a better program. It's tough to be too critical of a program or say too many mean things when ultimately they weren't supposed to win this game or too many of the other ones they've been playing lately and perhaps it's time to re-evaluate where we consider The Roadrunners? Maybe next year, we'll start them much lower and just see how high they can rise.

7. TEXAS TECH

Well they certainly didn't come close to "getting" the Longhorns. A season that will be remembered for its close calls and almost wins ended on a heck of a thud with an old fashioned beating at the hands of Texas. Mercifully the season is over and The Red Raiders can stop looking back and thinking about what almost was.

6. HOUSTON

To score 41 in a loss has to be heartbreaking but to lose by 15 has to hurt a little more. Houston is now mercifully done, we'll see what happens with the redshirted quarterback now, we'll see what happens with this program coming into the off season. Will things start to trend a little better or is this rough season a sign of things to come under the new regime?

5. TCU

This is a confusing season for these guys, there's no way going 5-7 is a good feeling but considering how angry the back half of their schedule looked at one point, I think it's a good year. The loss to West Virginia isn't great but honestly there are some other games they should be more disappointed about. I think the Oklahoma game is a big one where there is some obvious disappointment. Yes they finished below .500 but they played good football at times and just managed to play bad football at the worst possible times.

4.  TEXAS

Well, well, well. Look who is feeling themselves again. The Longhorns haven't looked that good since they played Rice early on in the season. The desperately needed the win to clinch a winning season and now there are some people clamoring for a Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl between Texas and A&M which would be exciting but it's tough to gauge how Texas fans would handle losing this game considering how heartbreaking this season has been so far.

3. TEXAS A&M

Man that was a bad game against LSU. The Aggies have been defended all season long for the fact that their schedule is so tough, but in a lot of these games they've come up short. It's one thing to schedule the game but another to just go out there and play bad football. I still think their season is one worth celebrating but this kind of poor performance is not the thing to go out on.

2. SMU

This is the way you finish a season. The SMU Mustangs deserve all the accolades and kind words that can be said about them. They deserve all the great things and praise that are hopefully coming their way this off season. It's been a long road from the Death Penalty to here and it's worth celebrating. Congrats guys!

1. BAYLOR

Currently ranked ninth in the country and looking up at a top four that will likely only feature one SEC program this was the best chance for a program like Baylor to get into the dance. That one loss to Oklahoma isn't going to go away, record setting comeback in a situation where the win was needed. Now because of that one loss, the committees and voters don't have to put Baylor anywhere near the top 4.

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