Taylor McHargue: Ranking the region after Week 4. Where does your team stand?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Brandon Wade/AP/Shutterstock (13417977c) Texas A&M quarterback Max Johnson (14) looks for an open receiver during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Arkansas, in Arlington, Texas Arkansas Texas A M Football, Arlington, United States – 24 Sep 2022

Taylor McHargue: Ranking the region after Week 4. Where does your team stand?

  1. Baylor  – Although the final score shows a one score game, Baylor’s 31-24 win at Iowa State was put away midway through the 4th Q when Baylor extended its lead to 31-14. The lingering concerns for Baylor remain on the offensive side. Can the Bears protect Blake Shapen, and can they create more explosive plays? The win at Iowa State was an impressive performance at a venue that is not known for giving away easy road wins. This week’s home game against Oklahoma State will test Baylor’s ability to keep up with a Cowboys offense that has had no trouble scoring in the first four weeks of the season. 
  1. LSU  – The Tigers dominated their contest against New Mexico to the tune of a shutout on defense while allowing just 88 yards of total offense to the Lobos offense. In addition to pitching a shutout, LSU also avoided losing Jayden Daniels to injury after he left the game in the 3rd quarter but was later cleared by the team doctors. LSU faces Auburn this week for its first true road test in a game they are more than a touchdown favorite in. 
  1. Texas A&M – It took a 97 yards fumble returned for a touchdown, and a missed FG off the literal top of the goal post, but A&M found a way to beat Arkansas in Jerry World. A&M’s defense will have to continue to play at this level to keep the Aggies ranked in the top 25, because its offense won’t keep them there.  The Aggie offense managed just 343 yards  to a unit that allowed 357 yards passing alone to Missouri State the week before. Road tests at Mississippi State followed by the showdown at Alabama will give us a better idea on where exactly this A&M team belongs. 
  1. Texas Tech – It is striking how much juice Joey McGuire has already provided Texas Tech in his first few months as the head man. The Red Raiders didn’t flinch even after Texas extended the lead to 31-17 late in the third quarter, ultimately forcing overtime. The Tech defense’s shining moment came when it forced Bijan Robinson to fumble in overtime, allowing Trey Wolff to kick the game winner in what could be a season defining win for Joey McGuire’s first year in Lubbock. Road tests at Kansas State and Oklahoma State the next two weeks will tell us if this Tech team has a chance to compete for the Big 12 Championship this season. 
  1. Texas  – With 4:27 left in the 3rd quarter Texas extended its lead to 31-17 against Texas Tech, and it felt like the game was well within the Longhorns control. Texas was then outscored 20-3 over the last quarter and change on their way to a heartbreaking loss that has become all too familiar for Longhorns fans. Texas should win, and do so comfortably, at home this week against West Virginia. The hope is that Quinn Ewers is ready the following week against Oklahoma in a game that will be a must win for Texas’ hopes to remain alive in the hunt for the Big 12 Championship. 
  1. TCU – It feels like Max Duggan should have been the starter in Ft Worth all along. TCU jumped out to a 14-0 and never looked back as the Horned Frog’s offense totaled nearly 500 yards of offense on SMU with no turnovers. TCU is quietly 3-0 with a huge test at home this week against Oklahoma. If the Horned Frogs were to hand OU their second consecutive loss, TCU will make their first appearance in the AP poll the following week. 
  1. SMU – Two Tanner Mordecai interceptions and a slow start from the Mustang’s defense put SMU in a hole early that it couldn’t climb out of. TCU got most everything it wanted on the offensive side of the ball, but the 5.5 yards per carry that SMU allowed on the ground was most concerning. The schedule doesn’t lighten up for the Ponies as they head on the road to open conference play at the Bounce House against UCF hoping to avoid their third loss in a row. 
  1. Tulane – One week you win on the road against dark horse Big 12 favorite, the next you lose at home to a middle of the pack Sun Belt team. A blocked punt, blocked field goal, and a late pick-6 from Michael Pratt allowed Southern Miss to take a 27-17 4th Q lead that it wouldn’t relinquish. The Green Wave head to Houston for a Friday night show down on ESPN for a matchup between two teams hoping desperately to get off on the right foot in conference play. 
  1. Houston – Houston fans don’t want to hear that the non-conference schedule was more challenging than it should have been. Or that Rice and Kansas are much better than they were expected to be. Or that losing three starters to the NFL off of the 2021 defense will take time to replace. Cougars’ fans left TDECU stadium mostly disgruntled after Houston escaped with a 34-27 win over the Rice Owls in the Bayou Bucket to move to 2-2. Through four  games, Houston is dead last in FBS for total penalties at 43. If the Cougars don’t find a way to play a cleaner brand of football, and do so in a hurry, there will likely be several more losses on the card in conference play. 
  2.  UTSA – The Roadrunner’s were only up 3 at half against Texas Southern but pulled away late to close out a 52-24 win at home. Frank Harris totaled nearly 400 yards passing on just 20 completions as UTSA closed out its nonconference schedule. At 2-2 with their two losses coming from UH (in a game they likely should have won) and Texas, the Roadrunners look the part in their quest to repeat as CUSA champions in their last year in the conference. 
  1. Rice – For nearly four quarters Rice did almost everything well in an effort to upset Houston in the Bayou Bucket. Unfortunately, in the last four minutes of the game came the Owls only two turnovers of the as TJ McMahon was stripped for a fumble recovered for the go ahead UH touchdown, followed by a tipped int. Still, the Owls some how drove the field with seconds remaining for one last attempt at the end zone to force overtime. As gut-wrenching as that loss was, there is reason for optimism that the 2-2 Owls are capable of competing throughout conference play in their last season in Conference USA. 
  1. Texas State – The Bobcats did exactly what they were supposed to do against HCU as they pitched a shutout at home to the tune of 34-0. The Texas State defense allowed just 142 total yards of offense and Layne Hatcher had another impressive performance throwing for more than 350 yards and 4 scores. This week will be a legitimate test as the Bobcats head to James Madison who is coming off a huge win of their own upsetting App State on the road. 
  1. North Texas – UNT is 115th un FBS in turnover margin, and it kept them from having a chance to upset Memphis on Saturday. North Texas outgained the Tigers by nearly 150 total yards of offense, but its three turnovers were the deciding factor. The good news for UNT is their next two games are both at home against FAU followed by Louisiana Tech, both of which are very winnable games. 
  1. UTEP – I had the honor and pleasure of calling the Miners upset win over Boise State on Friday night in a game that they emotionally dominated for all four quarters. UTEP came out with incredible energy and controlled the clock winning time of possession by more than 20 minutes! The challenge moving forward is to maintain  that level of energy and focus on defense, and keep the offense from producing turnovers at the level it was through the first four games of the season. If they can do that, this could be a repeat bowl team for Dana Dimel. 

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