There was a lot of wringing of hands this weekend, as the narrative changed from “The Big 12 is dead” to “the entire state of Texas has killed football”. And, well, it’s hard to argue. Poop the bed performances by Texas and Baylor at home, and a loss of the most embarrassing degree by A&M on the road, have the state’s supposed flagship programs in the wrong kind of spotlight.
It has also taken the attention away from three programs content to fly under the radar - for now - as TCU, Texas Tech, and SMU all handled their business in efficient fashion against overmatched opponents.
Because it appears that this will be a rollercoaster of a season here in the Lone Star State, we thought it would be fun to follow the ups and downs of FBS Football here in Texas. So, we present to you: The State of Texas Power Rankings, Frogs O’ War style.
*** Note: because of the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey, the opening game between Houston and UTSA was postponed. Therefore, we won’t include them in this week’s rankings, because unlike the national polls, our rankings are based solely off of games actually being played. ***
- Texas Tech (1-0): Why, you ask, are the Red Raiders number one? Well, as noted above, we are basing these rankings off of what has happened, not what should happen or what we expect to happen. Thus, Tech takes the number one spot after week one, because they manhandled a really good Eastern Washington team, and more impressively, kept the high-flying Eagle offense out of the end zone for the most part, surrendering just ten total points on 301 total yards of offense. If, and it’s a big if, the Tech defense is even serviceable this fall, Nik Shimonek, Derek Willies, and Kiki Coutee could do more than enough on offense to lead their team to some wins.
- TCU (1-0): The Horned Frogs played what was probably worst opponent of any FBS team in Texas, but they absolutely dominated Jackson State in a way that deserves applause. The Tigers had just 65 total yards, while the Frogs dropped 63 points on them. TCU got a great performance from QB Kenny Hill, who had just a singular “what the...” moment in the game, but otherwise displayed confidence and good decision making. The offense showed off some new toys in freshmen Jalen Reagor and Kenedy Snell, while the running backs controlled the tempo, even without the services of star Kyle Hicks. We will know much more about this team after Saturday’s tilt at Arkansas, but for now, the Frogs look far removed from the 2016 version of themselves.
SMU (1-0): Oh, the Ponies so badly want to be considered among the cream of the crop in Texas, but they are still a long ways from true relevancy. Sure, they beat Houston last year, and have been steadily improving under third year Head Coach Chad Morris. But, they haven’t played in a bowl game since 2012, and haven’t won a conference crown since their back to back C-USA titles in 2009/2010. This could be a make or break campaign for SMU and Morris (who is sure to get a look from A&M
shouldwhen Kevin Sumlin gets canned), and they started strong with a convincing win over SFA in their opener, in which they dropped 58 points while surrendering only 14. The Ponies get a chance to take on TCU in two weeks, and that should give us a good idea where they stand in 2017.
- UNT (1-0): Well, when you’re one of only five teams to win, you get ranked in the top four. The Mean Green are quite an enigma, but seem to have some positive momentum after last year’s bowl win and performed well under the steady hand of QB Mason Fine and RB Jeffrey Wilson.
- Texas State (1-0): You won, Bobcats, ergo you make fifth place.
- Texas (0-1): I guess, out of the five teams to lose their season opener, Texas’ was the most not terribly embarrassing. Maryland isn’t... well... good? Or at least we didn’t think they were. But DJ Durkin fields a legitimate Power Five roster and has the Terps on the uptick. That being said, you can’t allow nearly 500 yards at home, when some think you should be the best defensive team in the Big 12; let a freshman QB, fresh off the bench when the starter got injured, complete a 40 yard pass on third and 19 just when you finally had clawed back into a three point game; or upchuck all over yourself despite getting a pick six, a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown, and a punt return touchdown - and still lose by double digits. It was a pathetic performance, at home, under their first year head coach. The more things change, the more they stay the same, for Texas.
- A&M (0-1): There is an argument to be made that the Aggies loss was the worst loss of the week for any team in Texas. One could also argue that they actually had the ‘best loss’ being that it was on the road, to a Power Five team, and furthermore, one led by a QB who could quite possibly be the #1 draft pick a few months from now. But, my goodness Ags, WYD? A&M was cruising into the third quarter, strutting around on the sidelines with a maroon pimp cane while they celebrated a 45-10 lead. And then, like Josh Rosen’s dorm room hot tub, POOF, it was gone. The Aggies ran the ball approximately never in the second half, and it cost them dearly, as Kevin Sumlin rotated QBs like most folks change their underwear and on the other side of the ball, the efense couldn’t stop anything (yes, the D is gone - because clearly it left at some point Sunday night). It was a fail of epic proportions, one that inspired countless memes on social media, most referencing the Aggies efficiency of moving what normally takes a full season into what was simply a single game. It will be hard for A&M to recover from this - and it’s likely the final nail in Sumlin’s coffin, especially in the Regents have anything to do with it.
- Rice (0-1): The Owls traveled to Australia to get pummeled by Stanford, but in the grand scheme of things, it matters little. TCU became Rice North for several days as the Owls sought shelter and normalcy in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, and in the process, gained several thousand new fans. Here’s to hoping they don’t stay this low on the rankings this season.
- UTEP (0-1): The Miners got pummeled by Oklahoma, in Norman, though it was just a 14-7 game after the first quarter of play. Better luck next time, Miners.
- Baylor (0-1): The only P5 team to lose to an FCS team gets the bottom ranking this week, and frankly, I could have gone ahead and slid 0-0 Houston and 0-0 UTSA above them. I don’t care how great Turner Gill is (hey, the former Kansas head coach did double his wins over P5 opponents with Saturday’s victory!) or how much Liberty is on the come up, if you’re a Power Five program, and you lose your opener - at home - to an FCS program, you deserve to be listed as the worst FBS team in the state. We all knew that Matt Rhule had an uphill battle ahead of him, but things are much worse in Waco than we expected. Attrition, injuries, and youth - combined with a coaching staff that has several main roles filled by people with little to no collegiate experience, makes for a long season. Rhule seems like the right guy to turn things around, but he might not last long enough to enjoy the fruits of his labor if the Bears can’t get back on track. The win, the Flames’ first ever over a Power Five opponent, was such a big deal that Liberty President Jerry Falwell, Jr canceled class Monday, a holiday for just about every other college student.