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.

Feel free to check out my brand new comic book Another Day at the Office or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help people struggling with cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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