TEXAS FBS FOOTBALL RANKINGS

Where does your team rank among Texas schools heading into the 2018 college football season?

Gary Patterson and the TCU Horned Frogs top the pre-season Texans rankings. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Texas has 12 FBS teams. Each week we will rank them based on season-long performance, the prior game, and success relative to their competition. These are the rankings headed into week 1 of the 2018 college football season.

No. 12: UTEP

UTEP brings up the back of pack after failing to gain a single victory in 2017. They have a favorable matchup in week 1 vs. Northern Arizona, but I wouldn’t count on their success in this game to carry much significance towards the rest of the season.  

No. 11: Texas State

Not much changed in 2017 for a Texas State program that can never seem to make any significant improvements. The Bobcats go against a difficult opponent in Rutgers to begin their 2018 campaign.

No. 10: Rice

The wheels fell off the wagon for Rice in 2017 after finishing with an abysmal record of 1-11. Anything should be an improvement in 2018, but Rice will have a difficult task vs. the University of Houston this week after barely beating Prairie View last week.

No. 9: Baylor

After an offseason full of controversy and change before the 2017 season, the Bears felt the impact on the field. Baylor fought hard but only came out with a single victory in 2017. With that said, their team relied on a large collection of young and inexperienced players that now have a year’s worth of playing time under their belts. The Bears will look to start 2018 off right and gain some momentum before they face off against the gauntlet of daunting Big 12 opponents.

No. 8: UTSA

UTSA will return in 2018 with the hopes of redeeming themselves from their 2017 season which seemed to fall apart. The Roadrunners started off strong in 2017 with three consecutive wins but struggled to remain consistent from that point on. Things do not seem like they will be much easier in 2018 as they kick the season off with a difficult matchup against Arizona State and their new head coach Herm Edwards.

No. 7: Texas Tech

After a mediocre season finishing with a below .500 record in 2017, the Red Raiders start off 2018 as the seventh best team in Texas. The popular belief is that Head coach Kliff Kingsbury will have one last chance in 2018 to improve this Tech squad and cement himself as the head coach for the foreseeable future. Kingsbury will have his work cut out for him in Week 1 as his team will face off against an always dangerous Ole Miss team. To add to the pressure, there are still many questions and doubts surrounding the starting quarterback position, and unless someone steps up to take the reigns, all signs point to a recipe for disaster.

No. 6: SMU

SMU grabs the No. 6 overall spot on this list headed into Week 1. The Mustangs had a solid year in 2017 with the help of a high flying passing attack led by quarterback Ben Hicks and WR Courtland Sutton, who was taken in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos. SMU will look for another prolific season on the offensive side of the ball with Hicks returning for his junior season along with one of his most dangerous weapons from 2017, RB Xavier Jones. SMU will have a difficult matchup against UNT in week 1 who landed in the No.3 spot on this list.

No. 5: Houston

The Cougars did not make much noise in 2017 but they performed well for their circumstances. UH suffered two major losses with the departures of head coach Tom Herman to the University of Texas and superstar quarterback Greg Ward to the NFL. With that said new head coach Major Applewhite did an impressive job keeping the Cougars competitive, while also bringing along his new, young QB D’Eriq King. 2018 will be an opportunity for Applewhite and King to continue their maturation and maintain the winning culture left behind by coach Herman. Houston will face off against their city counterparts at Rice University in week 1, and are expected to pass their first test of the season with flying colors.

No. 4: Texas A&M

The Aggies had a rocky season in 2017 with their fair share of highs and lows, but looking forward, excitement around the program is on the rise. A&M made headlines this offseason after hiring former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. Not only will A&M have the benefit of taking the field re-energized by their new leadership, they will also have an abundance of talented returning players from 2017 that may just make them one of this seasons dark horses in college football. Not much will be made of their week 1 game vs Northwestern State, but it will give coach Fisher a chance to become more familiar with his new team.

No. 3: North Texas

UNT sneaks into the No.3 spot on this list to begin the 2017 season. North Texas caught fire in 2017 behind a dangerous passing attack led by quarterback Mason Fine. Not only will the exciting, young QB be returning for North Texas, but so will four of his top five leading receivers from 2017. UNT will kickoff 2018 with a tough matchup against a very formidable SMU team, but a victory could set them on the right path for another spectacular season.

No. 2: Texas (23)

The University of Texas falls into the No. 2 spot as they are the only other team from Texas to make the nation’s Top 25 rankings to begin the 2018 season. Securing the 23rd spot in the nation is a compliment to coach Tom Herman and the excitement he has created around the Texas program that is attempting to return prominence. Texas performed well in 2017 and showed flashes of hope and potential on their way to finishing with a record of 7-6. Although they will not be walking into a guaranteed win in Week 1 vs. the University of Maryland, they will have an opportunity to show the offseason progress they have made and take one more step towards re-establishing themselves as championship contenders.  

No. 1: TCU (16)

As we look ahead to the 2018 college football season, TCU tops the rankings. The Horned Frogs had a strong showing in 2017 after finishing second in the Big 12 with a 11-3 record. They will enter into 2018 ranked 16th in the nation, as coach Gary Patterson is always expected to put together a strong squad that always has a chance to win every time they step on the field. TCU should be able to maintain its place on this list through Week 1 as they have a very favorable matchup against the Southern University Jaguars.

 

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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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