Taylor McHargue: Ranking the region for Week 6 – a shakeup at the top

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Brandon Wade/AP/Shutterstock (13434450bc) Head coach Sonny Dykes argues a call during an NCAA football game against Oklahoma, in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU won 55-24 OKlahoma TCU Football, Fort Worth, United States – 01 Oct 2022

Taylor McHargue: Ranking the region for Week 6 – a shakeup at the top

  1. TCU – After TCU’s rather weak win at Colorado in Week 1 it appeared that this team may be towards the bottom of the conference in the Big 12. Fast forward a month and the Horned Frogs are undefeated, ranked, and headed to Lawrence for a showdown with Kansas that is playing host to College Gameday. TCU throttled Oklahoma on Saturday to the tune of 668 yards of total offense and zero turnovers on their way to a 55-24 stunner. If TCU gets a road win against Kansas this week, the playoff hype train will be in full swing. 
  1. LSU – LSU found a way to win ugly against Auburn on Saturday, which is all that matters in the SEC West. Auburn jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but LSU rallied to hold Auburn to just 3 points the remainder of the game on their way to a 21-17 win. LSU was outgained by over 150 yards of total offense but forced four turnovers to help complete the comeback. This week presents a brand-new challenge as Tennessee brings the nation’s top ranked offense on the road to the bayou. LSU cannot afford to spot the Vols the same lead they did to Auburn and have a chance to win this game.  
  1. Baylor – Oklahoma State got their revenge from the 2021 Big 12 Championship on Saturday as Baylor fell 36-25. Baylor struggled to find any sort of momentum in the first half, and ultimately found themselves down 23-3 in the 3rd quarter. If the Bears can find any solace in this game, it’s that the Cowboys may very well be the best team in the Big 12 with a real shot at the CFP playoff again. The primary concern for Baylor fans is against elite defenses (BYU and OK State) the Bears offense has been pedestrian at best on the ground averaging just 97.5 ypg. The good news is Baylor should have a get-right game this week on the road at West Virginia. 
  1. Texas A&M – The Aggies offense stinks, there’s no other way to put it. A&M is 105th in the country in total offense and were a field goal off the upright away from being 2-3 on the season. Their loss at Mississippi State this weekend was not surprising given Mike Leache’s success against the Aggies, but it did feel like one of the few conference road games A&M could win. Now the Aggies head to Tuscaloosa for a showdown with the Tide and Nick Saban who would love nothing more than to embarrass the Aggies and return the favor from 2021. 
  1. Texas Tech – The Red Raiders are 122nd in the country in turnover margin, and Saturday against Kansas State it caught up to them again. They escaped Houston earlier in the season with similar turnover issues, but four turnovers on the road against Kansas State was too much to overcome. The road doesn’t get any easier as Tech heads to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State in a game that the Red Raiders will need to be near perfect in if they have any hopes of an upset.   
  1. Texas – The Longhorns got the bounce back win they badly needed against West Virginia, who is likely the worst team in the Big 12 this year. All eyes turn to the Red River Rivalry this week and hopes that Quinn Ewers can return to action for the Horns. The other key to this game will be whether Dillon Gabriel can go for the Sooners at QB after leaving the game against TCU with a concussion. If he cannot, and the Horns get Ewers back, this may be a repeat to what TCU just did to Oklahoma. 
  1. Tulane – The Green Wave were 2-10 in 2021 and are now 4-1 to start the season and receiving top-25 poll votes. Tulane was down to its 3rd string QB on the road Friday night at Houston but rallied to come away with a win to stun the Cougars. Tulane’s defense continues to shine as the Wave are now 9th in total defense in all of college football. They now settle into a stretch of conference games that are all very winnable, and Tulane’s path to a conference championship appearance is suddenly appearing very plausible. 
  1. SMU – The Ponies had an early season bye week coming off back-to-back loses to Maryland at TCU. The good news for SMU is that both of those teams appear to be better than anyone expected them to be. I still have this as one of my favorites in the American Conference, and they’ll be tested again next week at UCF. 
  1. Houston – Losing at home on national TV to Tulane would have been painful enough, but the Green Wave were down to their 3rd string QB and still came away with the win. Dana Holgorsen’s squad committed another nine penalties bringing them to 52 total penalties through five games, dead last in college football. Houston heads to Memphis this week in what may be a make-or-break game for this team. If they get a win before heading into the bye week, it’s possible they can right the ship for the remainder of conference play. 
  1. UTSA – Quarterback Frank Harris provided 445 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in route to a conference road win against MTSU on Friday night. The game would have likely been out of reach much sooner had Harris not thrown three interceptions, but the Roadrunners still won big 45-30. To this point in the season UTSA is the clear favorite in C-USA, especially after UAB’s loss on the road against Rice.
  1. Rice – UAB came into the game Saturday as a 10-point road favorite against Rice, before losing to the Owls for the second straight season. Rice fought back from a 17-7 halftime deficit to capture their opener in conference play 28-24. This year’s team is far and away the most talented head coach Mike Bloomgren has fielded, specifically at the skill WR position with Rozner, Esdale, and McCaffrey. Rice heads to the bye week at 3-2 with dark horse C-USA championship dreams very much alive. 
  1. North Texas – The Mean Green ran for 300 yards against FAU in route to a key win for head coach Seth Littrell. Throughout the first half of the season North Texas has at times felt like both a contender in C-USA, as well as a team that may not even make a bowl game. Now sitting at 3-3, the Mean Green are a perfect 2-0 in conference and headed to the bye week to get healthy.  If UNT can move past some of the early season inconsistencies and continue to run the ball as well as it did against FAU, this could very well be a team that stays relevant in the C-USA race well into November. 
  1. UTEP –  After starting 1-3 with losses to North Texas and New Mexico I was guilty of writing this team off for dead. The Miners have now rattled off back-to-back wins against Boise State and on the road at Charlotte to completely change the trajectory of their season. I still think this team hovers around .500, but if they get to 6-6 it will be the first time UTEP has gone to back-to-back bowls in program history. 
  1. Texas State – Very little went well for Texas State as they got smashed 40-13 at the hands of undefeated James Madison. The Bobcats totaled less than 250 yards of total offense and four turnovers. Next up is a visit from App State, followed by a road trip to Troy to complete a brutal three game stretch in conference play. 

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