The DCTF Power Poll is back again, and while some teams are in unfamiliar places — like the Longhorns — there's a few that have once again posted up in familiar places. TCU is up at the top (or at least close to it), while Texas Tech starts, as usual, in the top five. UNT, UTEP and Rice are mired in the bottom three.
But outside of those five, which have more or less provided the structure to an otherwise fluid poll, several teams are in uncharted territory. Texas A&M opens the year in our top spot, reflective of most nation-wide polls that put the veteran Ags ahead of a younger, rawer TCU squad. Still, our staff was divided on exactly what the 2011 Frogs will be. Second is where they stay for now.
Houston, behind the prolific Case Keenum and a defense that looks to be improving, opens at No. 3 — a mild surprise considering it had to beat out five teams that made bowls in 2010 to do it. But the Coogs look to be lined up for at least a 10-win season, and that would surely merit top-three status. Baylor and SMU are nipping hard at Tech's heels, and either would make a convincing case to steal one of the top two spots (or both) if they win their openers (BU faces TCU, SMU takes on A&M).
And that leaves Texas, tethered to the No. 7 spot by a myriad of questions and concerns following last year's shocking 5-7 finish. It would seem unlikely the Longhorns will end up at such a low point on the totem poll, but until they actually win games, they're stuck in the mud.
DCTF's 2011 Texas College Power Poll — Preseason
|#||School||Points (1st-place votes)||2010 final|
|1||Texas A&M Aggies||Points: 48 (3)||2|
|Adam Hochfelder: Having 18 starters returning is big, but more importantly, for the first time since the mid '90s, I think the wind of momentum is finally at A&M's back. It should be a great year to be an Aggie.|
|2||TCU Horned Frogs||Points: 42 (2)||1|
|Greg Tepper: This is more of a respect pick than anything — respect for Gary Patterson. TCU has holes to fill, especially at QB, safety and on the offensive line, but betting against one of the top five coaches in the nation is like jumping out of a plane without double-checking the parachute.|
|3||Houston Cougars||Points: 39||6|
|Tom Sullivan: Houston's got a six-year senior at QB with a loaded offense. Now if they can play some 'D, the Cougars might join Boise State and TCU as BCS busters.|
|4||Texas Tech Red Raiders||Points: 32||3|
|Travis Stewart: What we know: Solid-to-good defensive backs, a well-respected and veteran coach, an experienced line, a tough-to-quantify homefield advantage, and a nearly two-decade tradition of success. Things we don't know: Pretty much everything else.|
|5||Baylor Bears||Points: 31||4|
|Travis Stewart: There's no Baylor storyline left to digest that hasn't been beaten to death all offseason. For me? I'm looking for a rare win against Tech and even rarer second-straight over Texas. Make that happen and the Bruins are looking at another bowl and a top-four finish in the Power Poll.|
|6||SMU Mustangs||Points: 30||5|
|Tom Sullivan: The loss to Army notwithstanding, the Ponies are a dangerous team. It’s time for Kyle Padron to be SMU’s version of Andy Dalton: play with confidence and eliminate the silly INT’s. If he does that, watch out.|
|7||Texas Longhorns||Points: 23||7|
|Brad Hilliard: On paper, they should be ranked higher than this. Maybe they’ll get back there — and maybe soon — but for now I’ve got to rank them according to what I saw last fall.|
|8||Rice Owls||Points: 14||9|
|Brad Hilliard: If the Owls can keep their heads up through the brutal first month of their schedule, they could rebound to challenge for a bowl berth.|
|9||UTEP Miners||Points: 11||8|
|Adam Hochfelder: While UTEP made a bowl last year, it has almost no one back on offense. Might take the Miners a few weeks to get going in 2011, and the C-USA race might have passed them by at that point.|
|10||North Texas Mean Green||Points: 5||10|
|Greg Tepper: On the bright side for the Mean Green, Lance Dunbar is going to be something to watch in his senior season. He’s worth the price of admission to the beautiful new stadium in Denton.|
ABOUT THE PANEL:
> Travis Stewart is the managing editor of DCTF
> Greg Tepper is the associate editor of DCTF
> Adam Hochfelder is the Executive Director of DCTF and several other IMG College properties
> Brad Hilliard is the operations coordinator for DCTF and several other IMG College properties
> Tom Sullivan is an account executive for DCTF