Taylor McHargue: Ranking the region – Where does your team stand headed into Week 4 of college football?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eric Gay/AP/Shutterstock (13398393b) Texas running back Bijan Robinson (5) runs past UTSA cornerback Corey Mayfield Jr. (2) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, in Austin, Texas UTSA Texas Football, Austin, United States – 17 Sep 2022

Taylor McHargue: Ranking the region – Where does your team stand headed into Week 4 of college football?

  • Baylor  – It took almost the entire first half for Baylor to settle into a rhythm as it felt like there was a hangover from last week’s loss at BYU that the Bears couldn’t shake. Texas State spent much of the first half on offense in Baylor territory but came away with just seven points after a few miscues and 4th down attempts that they did not convert. The Bears came out after the half to score 21 unanswered led by freshman running back Richard Reese who totaled 156 yards on the ground on 19 carries with 3 touchdowns. Baylor did what it needed to do to ultimately come away with a convincing victory, but it cannot afford the same slow start next week in Ames and expect a similar result against Iowa State.
  • Texas – UTSA gave the Longhorns all they could handle for two and a half quarters until the Jahdae Barron interception that was returned to the house flipped the momentum in Texas’ favor for good. UTSA kept momentum on their side in the first half with lateral double-passes and a surprise onside kick, but Texas weathered the storm and pulled away late to close out a 41-20 win over the Roadrunners. It was no surprise coming into this game that the Longhorn offense would have to lean on Bijan Robinson, and he did not disappoint. The Heisman dark horse totaled 183 yards on the ground and 3 touchdowns including a touchdown run from 78 yards out. The key for Texas as it enters Big 12 play… how quickly can they get Quinn Ewers back?
  • LSU – Early in the 2nd quarter the LSU Tigers found themselves down 13-0 to Mike Leach and Mississippi State and you could feel the displeasure from the fans in Baton Rouge. LSU then proceeded to outscore the Bulldogs 31-3 on the way to a 31-16 win for Brian Kelly’s first SEC win at LSU. QB Jayden Daniels produced more than 300 yards of total offense and two total touchdowns, but it was the defense for the Tigers that was most encouraging. Allowing just three second half points and less than 300 total yards of offense for the game against a Mike Leach led team is an impressive feat, even in Death Valley. The Tigers have one more tune up game against New Mexico this week before heading on the road for their first true road game of the season at Auburn.
  • Texas A&M – Miami became the first team in more than two decades to have 27 first downs and score zero touchdowns in a game. Miami won time of possession by more than 10 minutes. Miami outgained the Aggies by almost 150 yards of total offense. But, somehow, Texas A&M circled the wagons and beat the Hurricanes 17-9 in a truly awful display of offensive football. I’m not sure how much longer A&M will remain at this spot in the rankings but securing a win against a top 15 team is impressive no matter how you come about it. The point of emphasis for the Aggies remains, how do you solve the offensive side of the ball? If they cannot answer that question and do it in a hurry, there is a chance they are 0-3 in the next three games against Arkansas (at Jerry World) at Mississippi State, and at Alabama.
  • Texas Tech – The Red Raiders struggled to gain traction against NC State on offense as it found themselves down 20-0 at one point in the first half after a Donovan Smith interception was returned 84 yards for a touchdown. Tech totaled just 54 yards on the ground, but the primary concern is around the number of turnovers coming from the QB position. In the last two games against Houston and NC State the tech offense has turned the ball over a combined seven times including five interceptions by Donovan Smith. The Red Raiders offense led by Offensive Coordinator Zach Kittley is driven primarily by the passing game, and with it some aggressive throws by nature, but six total interceptions in two games is concerning. The schedule does not lighten up for the Red Raiders as they host Texas next week followed by road trips to Kansas State and Oklahoma State. The turnovers have to be resolved to have a chance in any of those three games.
  • SMU – Through three quarters at Maryland it looked like SMU was on their way to a road win against a Big 10 opponent. Unfortunately for the Mustangs they were blanked on offense in the 4th quarter and Maryland’s 14-point effort in the final quarter of the game secured a 34-27 win for the Terrapins. SMU’s three turnovers on offense along with a missed field goal and turnover on downs all contributed to Maryland’s second half comeback. There are no moral victories in football, but the Ponies should feel confident in knowing that if they clean up the turnovers on offense, they should be in great position to get a win this week at home against TCU in the Battle for the Iron Skillet.   
  • Tulane – Tulane was 2-10 last season and dealt with the lingering effects of Hurricane Ida well into the back half of the schedule. Fast forward to 2022, and Willie Fritz’s team is 3-0 with a win over a Big 12 opponent on the road. Led by their defense, Tulane played a bend but don’t break style of play on the way to a 17-10 win in the Little Apple that frustrated the Kansas State offense for the entire game. Michael Pratt yet again carried the offense as the team’s leading rusher with 87 yards on the ground to go along with his nearly 200 through the air. Tulane should move to 4-0 next week against Southern Miss and will be set up nicely for an outside shot in the American Conference if their defense can continue to play at the level they produced against Kansas State.
  • Houston – The mistakes Houston displayed in the first two weeks of the season were on display again in week 3 as the Cougars lost their home opener to the now 3-0 Kansas Jayhawks. 10 penalties, two turnovers, and a fight between teammates on the sidelines for Houston point to a team that is struggling to find their identity in the 2022 campaign. The Achilles heel against Kansas was Houston’s inability to limit the production on the ground by Kansas QB Jalon Daniels who averaged just over 10 yards per carry. The good news moving forward for Houston is they still have their entire conference schedule in front of them with a goal of winning the AAC still very much a possibility.
  • TCU – TCU was on an early season bye in week 3. Week 4 brings a road trip across DFW to face SMU for the Battle of the Iron Skillet and a reunion for Sonny Dykes. TCU has opened as a slight underdog in this rivalry matchup. This game likely comes down to which QB operates at a higher level between Max Duggan for TCU, and Tanner Mordecai for SMU.
  • UTSA – UTSA was in position even into the 3rd quarter to potentially steal a massive upset win against the mighty Texas Longhorns. That dream was squashed by Jahdae Barron and his interception late in the 3rd quarter that was taken back for a Texas touchdown. For Roadrunner fans there is still much to be encouraged by through the first three weeks of the season. UTSA very nearly upset Houston in their home opener, won a tight contest against Army on the road in yet another overtime game, and gave Texas more than they would have hoped for in Austin. This is the clear favorite in Conference USA to repeat as champions in their last year in the conference before moving on to the AAC.
  • Rice – Last week I said Rice would need to steal an upset in one of their next three games, and they did just that on Saturday. Rice was an 11 point under dog at home to Louisiana Lafayette and won by 12, snapping the nations longest win streak which stood at 15 games. Rice held ULL to under 200 yards of total offense in a dominating performance that helped overcome 3 first half interceptions by the Rice offense. The focus now turns to crosstown rival Houston and the Bayou Bucket, which Rice has not won since 2010. For the Owls the key against Houston will be to protect the ball. Rice leads the nation with 4 interceptions returned for touchdowns in just three games. If the Owls spot Houston an early lead as they did against ULL, it may be too deep a hole to climb out of.
  • Texas State – If this Texas State team could line up again against Nevada I think they would win that game. The jump from their week 1 loss to their win over FIU was impressive, as was the fight they showed against Baylor on Saturday. The Bobcat offense still struggles to run the ball between the tackles (totaling just 82 yards on the ground) but they have found themselves a legitimate quarterback in Layne Hatcher. Texas State should win comfortably this week against Houston Baptist, and would then need to just go .500 in conference to go to a bowl game for the first time in program history.
  • North Texas – UNLV is much improved and will likely be a bowl team out of the Mountain West, but there is no excuse to lose to that team by 31 points as North Texas did on Saturday. There was likely too much stock put in the Mean Green’s week 0 win over UTEP as both teams appear to be two of the worst in the FBS. Through four games the UNT defense has given up nearly 37 points per game, and Saturday ranks among the worst defensive performances yet under coach Seth Littrell as UNLV ran for 365 yards. The Mean Green head to Memphis next before getting back into conference play, but this feels like it will be a long year for UNT if they cannot find some answers on the defensive side of the ball.
  • UTEP – UTEP is 7 points away on the season from being 0-4 with losses to UNT and New Mexico on the books. It doesn’t appear there will be back-to-back bowls for coach Dana Dimel and the Miners, as they are averaging just 14 points per game as an offense. UTEP turned the ball over seven times on Saturday in route to a 27-10 loss to New Mexico, which CBS Sports has as the 119th ranked team in the country. Next up for UTEP is a nationally televised home game against Boise State before resuming conference play.

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