The Texas 12: Preseason Power Rankings

The+Texas+12%3A+Preseason+Power+Rankings

Jason Green, Staff Reporter

Editor’s Note: Every week, The Prospectors’ own Jason Green will rank all 12 Division I college football teams in the Lone Star State.  The Texas 12 power rankings are based on the results from the past week of games, along with the strength of wins and losses, according to Jason. 

 

 
12 – UTSA ROADRUNNERS (0-0) CONFERENCE USA  

Despite having one of the easier schedules in the NCAA (117 out of 128 teams), I still project the Roadrunners to have a tough year. The Roadrunners will probably produce the same 3-9 record as last season. UTSA has a relatively easy out of conference schedule, with games against Colorado State, Arizona State, and Texas A&M.

In theory, we could see the team improve from last season, but it’s a stretch. On their side is a little bit of experience and a new head coach, but for now, they are pinned to the bottom of the rankings.

Season Opener: Home vs. Alabama State on Sep. 3

 

 
11 – NORTH TEXAS MEAN GREEN (0-0) CONFERENCE USA 

The Mean Green – formerly known as the Eagles – are projected to go 3-9 and one of the three wins should be against the No. 12 ranked Roadrunners, thus the No. 11 ranking. Now that we have the formalities out of the way, let’s get to the interesting stuff. Former Steelers great “Mean” Joe Greene actually got his name from the Mean Green and vice versa, believe it or not. When he was a sophomore at the university and already wreaking havoc across the country, head coach Rod Rust’s wife nicknamed the Eagles’ defense the Mean Green based on the school’s main color. After Joe Greene ended up with the Steelers, the fan base thought the nickname belonged to him and began calling him “Mean Greene.” Eventually, his popularity led to the renaming of the school’s nickname.

Season Opener: Home vs. Southern Methodist on Sep. 3

 

 
10 – SOUTHERN METHODIST MUSTANGS (0-0) AAC

The Mustangs could very well be a good team. But it won’t matter with the 52nd hardest schedule in the NCAA. They will probably open with a win at No. 11 North Texas, but then they travel to Baylor – which will not be nearly as fun. Quarterback Matt Davis is a transfer from Texas A&M which is nice, but his offensive line is not A&M quality. SMU is going to need Davis to use his dual-threat abilities from day one. Look for a two or three-game improvement over last season’s 2-10 record.

Season Opener: Away vs. North Texas on Sep. 3

 

 
9 – TEXAS STATE BOBCATS (0-0) SUN BELT

I’m really not sure why I have the Bobcats picked to win five games this season. Last season they went 3-9 despite having Dennis Franchione as a head coach to go along with 14 returning starters. This season the team has a new head coach who comes from James Madison of the FCS. The Bobcats return only four starters on offense and six on defense, with a lot of juniors and seniors at the top of the depth chart. I like them because their schedule ranks No. 95 in the NCAA and they get to play teams like Incarnate Word, Idaho and some team named New Mexico State. They may drop down the Texas 12, but maybe – just maybe – my five win hunch is correct.

Season Opener: Away vs. Ohio University on Sep. 3

 

 

8 – RICE OWLS (0-0) CONFERENCE USA 

Rice is projected by a lot of people to finish ahead of UTEP. I instead have them just behind UTEP. I have UTEP defeating them when the two teams match up near the end of the season in Houston. If senior linebacker Alex Lyons has a big season and new quarterback Tyler Stehling fixes an offense that had turnover problems last season, the team could hit my projected mark of 6-6. The Owls missed a bowl last season for the first time in four years. Despite games against Baylor and Stanford, Rice has six winnable games and could find themselves bowl eligible come December.

Season Opener: Away vs. Western Kentucky on Sep. 1

 

 
7 – UTEP MINERS (0-0) CONFERENCE USA 

The football edition of The Prospector will contain my season preview of the team and my game-by-game predictions for the year. That’s about all I’m going to give you now.

Season Opener: Home vs. New Mexico State on Sep. 3

 

 
6 – TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (0-0) BIG 12

I really do not have a high opinion of the Red Raiders or their head coach Kliff Kingsbury. I honestly believe that if he hadn’t been a star quarterback for Tech in the late 90’s, he already would have been fired (he is in his fourth year and has gone 19-19). If you watched UTEP play against Texas Tech last year, a few things probably stood out – apart from just the fact that they injured Aaron Jones. Before Jones left the game, he reeled off a 91-yard touchdown run, the longest in UTEP history. On the day, UTEP gained 414 yards, even without Jones for most of the day. The week prior to the UTEP game, Tech had given up 637 yards to Sam Houston State – point being, the Red Raider defense is really bad. Kingsbury is an offensive coach. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes could be a Heisman contender but, the team will struggle to become bowl eligible thanks to their lack of discipline on defense.

Season Opener: Home vs. Stephen F. Austin on Sep. 3

 

 
5 – BAYLOR BEARS (0-0) BIG 12

The Bears probably would have been at the top of anybody’s rankings and in the top-10 of everyone’s national polls. Then the sexual assault/lack of discipline scandal happened which led to the firing of head coach Art Briles on May 26, 2016. Baylor appears in the season-opening coaches’ poll at No. 21. The biggest issue with losing Briles is that it is going to take a great head coach to overcome the loss of 12 out of 22 starters from last year’s 10-3 team. Former Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe likes to run the ball and with running back Shock Linwood – the school’s second all-time leading rusher – the Bears could very well go 10-3 again this season, despite the coaching change. A tough Big-12 schedule will be the deciding factor.

Season Opener: Home vs. Northwestern State on Sep. 3

 

 
4 – TEXAS LONGHORNS (0-0) BIG 12

This is a big year for head coach Charlie Strong who clearly does not have as much leeway as Kingsbury at Tech. With boosters already calling for his head last season (5-7), it took a huge late season upset of Oklahoma to save his job. Strong clearly knew this and hired new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert to attempt to improve on last season’s 26.4 points per game average. Strong’s teams have consistently had a strong defense and that should definitely help them improve on their record from last season. It’s still not known which quarterback will start, freshman Shane Buechele or senior Tyrone Swoopes. Both have reportedly split all of the reps in practice 50/50. Whoever is chosen could go a long way toward deciding whether the Longhorns hit my target of a surprising 10-2 record or a slightly worse 8-4.

Season Opener: Home vs. Notre Dame on Sep. 4

 

 
3 – TEXAS A&M AGGIES (0-0) SEC

So, why are the Aggies rated higher than the Longhorns in the Texas Top Twelve? Honestly, as I start writing this, I can’t remember. Maybe it’s because after UTEP beats Texas, they will plummet down my rankings. Just kidding. It’s actually because I believe that the Aggies projected 9-3 record in the SEC is much better than the Longhorns potential 8-4 in the Big 12. For the last two years, A&M has started out with five wins in a row. I think that this year Kevin Sumlin’s squad will actually start out with six wins in a row and head into a match-up of undefeated teams with Alabama on Oct. 22. Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight has locked up the quarterback spot and is drawing Tim Tebow comparisons. He has outstanding receivers and a vicious defense to attempt to shut down the seventh most difficult schedule in the country.

Season Opener: Home vs. UCLA on Sep. 3

 

 
2 – HOUSTON COUGARS (0-0) AAC 

Last year’s surprise team is not going to surprise anyone this season. I almost hate to rank them this high and possibly watch them fall. You can’t rate a team who finished 13-1 and beat Florida State in the Peach Bowl any lower just because they play in the AAC. If Tom Herman and his team continue to perform the way they have been, they may not have to worry about being in the AAC much longer anyway. Rumor has it that the BIG 12 is looking to expand and may have their eyes on the Cougars following this season. Quarterback Greg Ward returns and the receiving corps is more experienced than last season when Ward threw for 2828 yards and 17 TD’s. I have them down for a 10-2 record.

Season Opener: Home vs. Oklahoma on Sep. 3

 

 
1 – TCU HORNED FROGS (0-0) BIG 12

The Horned Frogs finished the season at 11-2 after beating the Oregon Ducks in the Alamo Bowl to finish out the season. Their schedule ranks in the second third of all 128 teams as far as difficulty goes, despite the fact that they face Big 12 foes Oklahoma, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State. I am predicting them to finish 9-3 this season. That will probably come as a surprise to a lot of people, seeing as how some publications have them picked as low as sixth in the conference. I have them temporarily positioned at number one because the three teams behind them should be doing a lot of moving early in the season. This may be their only chance to be here. But, then again, head coach Gary Patterson has been at TCU forever and always manages to make them a contender. This ranking is out of respect, so don’t be surprised if they beat Arkansas in week 2 and Oklahoma in week 5 to hang onto number one spot.

Season Opener: Home vs South Dakota State on Sep. 3