Texas College Football Rankings Part 2

Kenny Hill leads his team onto the field against Oklahoma Via: TCU Athletics

So, I said every three weeks and clearly that did not happen. Life comes at you fast, but here is my new grantee: I will update these ratings one more time post-bowl season for a final ranking.

For this ranking, I have decided to only give you the top 5 teams. No offense to any program not listed here, but outside of the top five there is not much excitement. (Technically there are six teams here sharing five spots.)

No. 1, TCU

Without a doubt, the Horned Frogs are the best in Texas. Yes, they just were slapped around by Oklahoma, but that does not discredit their body of work this season. They play solid defense and have a strong offense. Gary Patterson continues to be worth every dime TCU pays him, and while the Frogs are out of the playoff picture the Big 12 title is still very much in sight.

E Washington Texas Tech Football
Justin Stockton rushes against Eastern Washingtoon Via: The Spokesman-Review

 

No. 2, Texas Tech/Texas A&M

These two teams have both been a major disappointment to their respective fanbases. For Tech, an improved defense led to hopes of a prosperous season. But kicking woes and an oddly anemic offense at times has sunken those hopes.

We can pretty much say goodbye to Kevin Sumlin, barring a miracle, so that should tell you where the Aggies are at this season. These teams could very well end with the same exact record on the season, so I feel they should share the two spot.

No. 3, Texas

Tom Herman energized the Texas fanbase, but was quickly derailed by Marlyand. Since then, the season has not been much better. The Longhorn offense has been hit by injuries, and has been inept most of the season.

That defense is scary talented, but has not been good enough to carry this team to victory often. Bowl eligibility hangs in the balance with two games left, a rough start for Herman’s tenure.

No. 4, Houston

The Cougars have fallen off following Herman’s departure, but are not a bad team. Ed Oliver is still the best defensive lineman in the country, and the offense can still produce. Mystifying collapses against Memphis and Tulsa have been a major damper on the season, but a win over Number Five SMU gives them the nod to Number Four.

No. 5, SMU

The Mustangs are finally going bowling! The downside to this is you can basically kiss Chad Morris goodbye. The program is far from rebuilt but there is finally hope for the future. The Mustang offense continues to cruise carrying this team. Defensively, the Mustangs struggle a bit allowing Navy to run all over the yard against them last week.

Tune in post bowl season for my final ranking! Let us know in the comments if you agree or disagree with these rankings. Enjoy the end of college football season, the most magical time of the year.

Texas college football power rankings, ranked No. 1-11

Texas is home to eleven football programs, with five belonging to Power Five conferences. But who is the best in this great football playing state? Check in every three weeks to find out.

Photo via TCU Athletics

No. 1, TCU

Going in to Stillwater and knocking off Oklahoma State was impressive, to put it lightly. The Horned Frogs under Patterson have a strong defensive identity, but the offense is not shabby by any means. Slowing down Oklahoma State’s offense is extremely difficult, but TCU was up to the task. They added another impressive win to their record after besting West Virginia. TCU is in the playoff hunt now, and they are deservedly the best in Texas.

No. 2, Texas Tech

I will admit it, I am biased here. I am a Texas Tech student, but I will try to set aside my bias and defend this rank. Beating Arizona State is a decent win, but breaking Houston’s home winning streak was the best win on the young year. Texas Tech had a shot at knocking off Oklahoma State, but fell just short in the upset bid in a 41-34 defeat. Crushing Kansas is not really impressive, but the team was finally able to win soundly. At times Tech has struggled to do that under Kingsbury, and this shows the team is developing. If the defense really is as improved as early returns indicate, this could be a good year for a program looking to get back to the glory days under Mike Leach.

Kellen Mond being pursued by Keith Holcombe of Alabama (Photo Via: 247Sports)

No. 3, Texas A&M

The Aggies were a national laughingstock after blowing a 34-point lead at UCLA. The Aggies showed heart against Alabama, but were not seriously threatening the Tide. They have a streaky offense with Kellen Mond in his freshman season, but the defense has play-makers and Texas A&M has managed to close out two dogfights against Arkansas and South Carolina.  Between A&M and Texas Tech there is very little separation. The Aggies fall behind the Red Raiders because of their collapse at UCLA, which is just an unfathomable choke.

No. 4, Texas

After a disappointing loss against Maryland at home, the Longhorns are showing some of the talent that their recruiting class rankings promised. While the Longhorns are struggling mightily on offense, the defense has been superb since the Maryland game. Sam Ehlinger might be the new answer at quarterback for Texas after leading a comeback victory over Kansas state. Tom Herman has his work cut out for him, but Texas is moving in the right direction.

Derrick Willies being tackled by Cougar defenders (Via:  The Venture)

No. 5, Houston

You thought I was just going to stick the Power Five teams this high up here didn’t you? Two words whenever Houston is mentioned: Ed. Oliver. This man among boys is the best defensive player in college football. I dare anyone to prove that statement false. I watched as Texas Tech triple-teamed him and he was still able to bring pressure. Houston struggles offensively, but Ed Oliver is good enough to change the game. The rest of the defense is not shabby either, and if the offense can improve Houston could be poised for a run at the AAC title.

No. 6, SMU

SMU has relied on a stellar offense for their success thus far. A deep receiving core led by Courtland Sutton have led the offensive attack. While SMU was dispatched by TCU in a 20-point defeat, the Mustangs put up a good fight early demonstrating the progress Chad Morris has made. SMU still has much more to prove, and losing to Houston showed they still are not ready to compete in the AAC.

UTSA celebrates a touchdown during their upset bid over Baylor (Photo Via: SportsDay)

No. 7, UTSA

Stunning Baylor earns them the seventh spot above the Bears. I would have loved to see the match-up against Houston, but Hurricane Harvey had other plans. UTSA is playing good football, and this could shake up to be one of the best years for the program.

No. 8, Baylor

Man, Baylor is really bad. The winless Bears under new Head Coach Matt Rhule have shown some signs of life, but the program is in shambles. I can’t say I am shaken up about the Bears’ collapse, considering the scandal under the previous regime led by Art Briles. Matt Rhule is trying to do things the right way, but it will be awhile before Baylor is even close to heights it reached just a few years ago.

No. 9, Texas State

A positive for this program are that they played Appalachian State close, and that is something to build on.

No. 10, Rice

Rice is in a rough state, but a win over UTEP gives them the nod to the 10 spot.

No. 11, UTEP

Sorry to anyone who is a big UTEP fan, but they are the worst in Texas as of now. Just an all-around struggling program, UTEP needs a drastic turnaround to leave the cellar of Texas football.


Michael Macon is a contributing writer for The JR Report.

AL West: Every Team’s Most “Under the Radar” Player

Texas Rangers

Robinson Chirinos

Robinson Chirinios .jpg

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Being a backup catcher isn’t the most desirable big league job, but Chirinos is arguably the best in baseball. With Lucroy ahead of him, Chirinos’ at-bats are limited, but when he does get to hit, he does real damage. Last season, Chirinos hit nine home runs in only 147 at-bats, posting a .483 slugging percentage (.797 OPS). In 2015, he hit 10 in 233 at-bats, posting a .762 OPS.

He’s a solid defender, too, putting up 1.4 dWAR over the past two seasons. When the Rangers want to rest Jonathan Lucroy, they need not worry, because Chirinos is an excellent backstop.

Seattle Mariners

Danny Valencia

Danny Valencia

(Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times Photo)

A guy who can play all over the field, Danny Valencia has quietly put up back to back great seasons. In 2015, betweens two teams (Toronto and Oakland), Valencia hit 18 home runs in 345 at-bats, and posted an outstanding .864 OPS. Probably a career year for him, Valencia’s slugging percentage fell from .519 in 2016 to .446 in 2015. His OBP was almost identical, though (.345 in 2015; .346 in 2016). Danny Valencia’s OPS should hover right around .800.

Trading for Valencia in the offseason was a solid move by GM Jerry Dipoto.

Houston Astros

Evan Gattis

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros

(Thomas B. Shea/USA Today Photo)

The Houston Astros have a lot of star power, which might be the reason Evan Gattis is overlooked. I’m sure fans of AL West teams know all about him, but around baseball he’s under-appreciated. Gattis put up the best numbers of his career last year, hitting 32 home runs and slugging .508. His .826 OPS was also a career high. His strikeout percentage rose from 2015, but his walk rate did, too. Bonus: He doesn’t wear batting gloves.

El Oso Blanco has quietly become one of the most productive hitters in baseball.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Kole Calhoun

Kole Calhoun

(Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)

It’s hard to stand out when you’re playing next to Mike Trout, so it’s understandable that when people think about the Angels, Kole Calhoun doesn’t come to mind. After setting career highs in a number of categories in 2015, Calhoun only got better. He hit fewer home runs in 2016, but his OPS rose to .786, he slashed his strikeout rate from 23.9% to 17.6%, and his walk rate rose from 6.6% to 10%.

Kole Calhoun is such a solid player.

Oakland Athletics

Liam Hendriks

Liam Hendriks

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Outside of the division, most people haven’t heard of Liam Hendriks. The Australian was one of the Athletics’ most reliable bullpen arms in 2016, building on his excellent 2015 season with Toronto in which he posted a 2.14 FIP. Last season with the A’s, his FIP was 2.85. Hendriks’ run prevention is obviously excellent, but he’s dependable, too. He led the Oakland bullpen in innings pitched with 62 ⅔.

Hendriks should be the Athletics go to reliever in 2017.

All data courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.