Snap Decisions

Your unofficial playbook for watching college football in Texas during the weekend of October 23.
Snap Decisions
Andy Dalton and the Horned Frogs: number five in the country but number one in the state.

If there two things that college fans love to debate, it’s how their team could be playing better and how unfair the polls are. So after the release of the first BCS poll of the season on Monday, why not throw one more (highly subjective) ranking into the mix? Therefore, I present TEXAS MONTHLY’s first statewide poll of its college football teams.

#1 TCU (7-0): There was time when this pick would have caused a stir, but no longer. The Horned Frogs remain undefeated and debuted at number five in the BCS poll, a number that had to have disappointed fans in Fort Worth. Because of the quality of their opponents, it’s easy for critics to dismiss the fact that they are scoring 40.1 points per game (seventh in the nation) or allowing only 9.3 points (first in the nation). It doesn’t help that quarterback Andy Dalton has disappeared from the Heisman race or that there’s no signature player on the rest of the team or that the defensive unit doesn’t even have a cool nickname. In short, TCU hasn’t been able to build any national buzz that could help capture the imagination of the country. That leaves TCU at the mercy of other teams. But when SEC West foes Auburn (ranked number four in the BCS) and LSU (ranked number six) meet on Saturday, the results will probably leave TCU standing still, regardless of the outcome. But as for our statewide poll, does that mean TCU could beat Texas? The best direct evidence we have is the shared game against Wyoming. Texas beat the Cowboys 34–7; TCU beat them 45–0. That’s pretty much a wash, and it tells me that it would be a wonderful treat to see TCU play Texas in the future. Hmm, what bowl would that be?

#2 Texas (4-2): Remember, dear reader, when I wrote last week that the fastest way for the Longhorns to get people to stop talking about their losses was to win a game? Well, hello Nebraska! Mack Brown showed us that with the right game plan and better focus, this Longhorns squad was not ready to write off the season. The pollsters rewarded Texas with an AP ranking of 22 and a BCS ranking of 19. Now comes the late-season grind: Not all of the opponents are marquee teams, but a loss to a sinking program like A&M or rising ones like Oklahoma State and Baylor could wipe out their gains. But if they win out, Texas will find itself back in the national conversation—and back on track. The Longhorns won’t play a role in the Big XII championship, but each win helps them increase their bowl stock.

#3 Texas Tech (3-3): Welcome to the part of the list that gets muddy and the elbowing for position in the bottom half of the Big XII South heats up. It’s difficult to argue that the Red Raiders don’t deserve to be ahead of the Baylor Bears, given that they beat them in their head-to-head match-up in the Cotton Bowl. Yet it seems clear that two questions have been raised about head coach Tommy Tuberville, whose undefeated 2004 Auburn team came as close to a shot at the national title as one can get. First, does he really want to be in Lubbock after all? Second, what has he done to maximize the talent on the roster? For sure, he has

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