Texas College Football Review
Liam Smith ’20
The college football bowl season and playoffs are a few weeks away. Here is a look at 10 Texas college football teams showing where each team is right now along with their future heading into bowl season.
University of Houston (9-3): Coming into the season, Houston had playoff aspirations (with an undefeated season and a little outside help). Houston had only had three “legitimate” matchups (with bigger schools) in its schedule while the rest of the American Conference went overlooked. However, Houston could just not stay perfect. With losses to Navy and SMU, Houston has now found itself in a deep hole being unranked. Houston did not compete in their conference championship and also lost their head coach to the University of Texas. Now Houston is looking to appear in the Las Vegas Bowl against San Diego State where the Cougars are not favored to win. As bleak as it seems, this football program has shown its potential for greatness with wins over multiple ranked opponents in the past two years. Since there are many high school prospects and head coaching candidates to evaluate, there is a light at the end of this tunnel.
University of Texas (5-7): The 2016 season is Charlie Strong’s “last straw” season and because of his lack of success over the past three years, he has been fired from the football program. He was 16-21 as their head coach. Texas has good talent on offense with D’Onta Foreman averaging 150 rushing yards a game and a running/passing QB tandem. But, it’s the defense that needs help giving nearly 50 points to 4 teams this season. Next season is Tom Herman’s debut as the new head coach, coming from the University of Houston. Bereft of a bowl game this season, Texas fans have something to look forward to next year.
Texas A&M (8-4): The Aggies have been been phenomenal this year with Trevor Knight. During the offseason, Kevin Sumlin was threatened with the loss of his job to the likes of Tom Herman from Houston. In response, he’s beefed up the defense (the players are noticeably bigger and stronger than last year), acquired an experienced dual-threat QB in Trevor Knight, and has recruited what is possibly the number one NFL draft prospect Myles Garrett. A&M could have made it into the playoff with its “tough” SEC schedule as a good resume. Yet they hit the iceberg and sunk the moment their quarterback got his shoulder hurt. It is somewhat forgivable that the Aggies will make an appearance in the Texas Bowl against Kansas State. However, unlike UT fans, Aggie fans are starting to get impatient with the slow “progress” of Coach Sumlin.
Baylor (6-6): It’s ugly in Waco. Title IX lawsuit. Head coach Art Briles is fired. New recruits are lost. This whole scandal is a national embarrassment and will definitely impact the performance of the football team if not the whole school. So what happened in the season? Baylor had a good run until their quarterback broke his leg. You can blame the six losses on that, but Baylor wasn’t heavily favored to win those games in the first place. At 6-6, Baylor is barely bowl eligible and in return will face the 10-2 Boise State Broncos in the Cactus Bowl where the Bears are not highly picked to win. However, Baylor needs a win to in order to reassure the recruits they have coming in the offseason. If they lose, it will prove that Baylor is not the same power house that they were a year ago.
TCU (6-6): Kenny Hill was supposed to be the experienced replacement for the talented Trevone Boykin. At 6-6, he is far from it; Kenny has struggled under pocket pressure (12TD/10INT). Even on his best statistical games, he can’t seem to pull through and win. The TCU defense hasn’t changed from last year as far as giving up 30 points every game. The Big 12 “philosophy” is to use the offense as a form of defense and hopefully out score the other team regardless of the points given up. So obviously an inconsistent quarterback isn’t going to thrive. How did TCU beat Baylor? Simple, TCU trusted their ground game and ran for 431 yards as a team while keeping Baylor to 22 points. This leaves TCU with two options. Ditch the passing game and rely on running like a classic Big 10 team (Kenny Hill has shown some skill in running the ball).Or ditch Kenny Hill and hope for the best in your backup. In any case, TCU is finding a new QB this offseason; they must first focus on beating Georgia in the Liberty Bowl.
Texas Tech (5-7): Texas Tech is the more dramatic sister of TCU. Texas Tech has “the most explosive offense in the nation” (600 yards per game). Yet, it seems like the defense can never show up… to the stadium (eight 40 point games this season–are you kidding me?). As much as everyone likes to see them play, the Red Raiders need to find ways to win. If you are playing football at Strake Jesuit and play defense, I would recommend adding this university to your list (totally no bias in that statement). If Texas Tech had a decent defense this year, they could have been the next Louisville Cardinals. They could have been many things, but what they are right now is a 5-7 team that isn’t bowl eligible. Better luck next year, Red Raiders.
Rice (3-9): It’s a shame. Rice had been doing so well in past years, but since the 2015 season, the Owls have been on a downhill spiral. Like TCU, Tyler Stehling hasn’t been the sufficient QB that Rice needed. And the running game? Well…40 yards per game. That is the current running game. Rice has been outmatched in many of its games so you can’t completely blame them. All they can do is wait for the recruits to come in because they aren’t getting anything out of this season.
SMU (5-7): SMU is nationally recognized this year…for beating Houston. They won in convincing fashion and were considered to be placed into the Top 25. Then they lost the competition for the American Athletic Conference and had a losing season. SMU has a solid QB that throws 250 yards per game. They have a running back tandem that also gains over a 100 rushing yards per game. The Mustangs can score points. Like many teams nowadays, they just need to focus more on defense because giving up 30 points each game does not bode well for Texas college football teams.
Sam Houston State (12-0): The FCS is the little brother league to the nationally recognized FBS. Within that league there is only one undefeated team. Sam Houston State currently leads the FCS and should be on everyone’s watch list (games on ESPN 3). If SHSU can win the league: it will mark the end of a five year championship winning streak held by North Dakota State, SHSU will be the first Texan champion in the FCS ever, and they will be the 22nd undefeated team to ever be in the FCS.
Stephen F. Austin (5-6): SFA is also in the FCS. They are progressing through the year and will close the season at 5-6. SFA has a quarterback that can run, but mostly passes, for 150 yards a game. Its running game is shared between two main halfbacks whose yards always add up to 100 or so per game. The defense (when they win), uses a “bend but don’t break” mentality and keeps the games close for the offense to handle. The lumberjacks aren’t flashy in the way they play, or how many points they score, or how well they are in a certain stat. When they play teams like Texas Tech, they give up 69 points. But when they play teams in their division, they have the capability to win the close games. It just hasn’t been their year…enough said.
The end of this season marks the first time since 1997 that no college football teams from Texas have made the AP Top 25 Poll. Some of these teams could have been finished better without certain injuries to their players.