As you would hope they would by this point in the college football season, the countless moving parts inherent in a power poll like DCTF's are finally starting to click down into place. After nine weeks of gridiron action, here's what we know:
1. TCU is the best team, comfortably.
2. Baylor is having its best season in decades and is a legit top-three or four member.
3. Texas and Texas Tech are both struggling and could miss a bowl. Both should feel lucky to stay in the top five or six.
4. Rice, UNT and likely UTEP will never break out of the bottom three.
That leaves us with Texas A&M, SMU and Houston as the only three groups surrounded by question marks. Luckily, each can cement its placement in the poll with critical games this weekend. A&M, for example, has yet to lose to a bad team. As a matter of fact, it's played decently well in two of its losses to ranked teams. But if it keeps up just the mediocre performances, it will get swept away by Sooner seas this weekend. Win, and you're a lock for the No. 2 spot until you see Baylor. Lose, and in the middle you stay.
Houston's late-season surge has impressed — after all, the Coogs are doing it with freshman David Piland at quarterback. But it all comes down to this weekend, when Houston hosts UCF, the beast of the East right now in C-USA. A loss puts SMU back in charge of the West division. A win all but seals another shot at the conference title game.
And SMU travels to UTEP in a dangerous trap game. The Miners are struggling, but the Sun Bowl is always a tough place to play, and a loss would completely shatter any of the Ponies' chances at a conference title.
DCTF 2010 Texas College Football Week 10 Power Poll
|#||School||Points (1st-place votes)||Previous|
|1||TCU Horned Frogs (9-0/5-0)||Points: 50 (5)||1|
|Tom Sullivan: With all due respect to the record crowd that witnessed Utah and TCU last year, this Saturday's game is, arguably, the biggest regular season game for TCU since, oh, Sammy Baugh was Slingin' 'em.|
|2||Baylor Bears (7-2/4-1)||Points: 43||2|
|Brad Hilliard: In this strangest of sports autumns in Texas, could we see a 10-win season by the Bears? Don't count anything out at this point.|
|3||Texas A&M Aggies (5-3/2-2)||Points: 42||5|
|Adam Hochfelder: Great turnaround for a team whose fan base was writing it off two weeks ago. Now the real games begin with mighty OU coming to Kyle.|
|4||Texas Longhorns (4-4/2-3)||Points: 32||3|
|Tom Sullivan: Eh. UCLA. Iowa State. Baylor. All losses at home — Mack needs to rally the troops or the bowl streak will end.|
|5||Houston Cougars (5-3/4-1)||Points: 31||6|
|Adam Hochfelder: Gotta give props to Kevin Sumlin. Maybe no other program in the state could rebound to be on the cusp of bowl eligibility after losing its clear emotional leader so early and so painfully.|
|6||Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-4/2-4)||Points: 24||4|
|Dennis Hall: The loss to the Aggies puts the Raiders in the driver's seat for last place in the Big 12 South. Not the result Tuberville needed in his first season in Lubbock.|
|7||SMU Mustangs (5-4/4-1)||Points: 22||7|
|Brad Hilliard: Down 14 points late in the third quarter against Tulane, the Ponies rallied to win and escaped with with their slim chances of a conference title.|
|8||UTEP Miners (5-4/2-4)||Points: 16||8|
Travis Stewart: There's a very good chance that UTEP will not be able to win any of its final three games — meaning a 5-2 start would turn into a nightmarish 0-5 finish. I'm Mike Price's biggest fan, but that would be cause for a new coach on the sidelines. It would be time for a change.
|9||Rice Owls (2-6/1-3)||Points: 10||9|
|Travis Stewart: It was a good time for a bye week, because the frustration was only mounting as the losses piled up after the shocking Bayou Bucket win. While a bowl game is still technically a possibility, the real aim is just to split the final games and end on a positive note.|
|10||North Texas Mean Green (2-6/2-3)||Points: 5||10|
|Dennis Hall: Mean Green interim coach Mike Canales pushed all the right buttons to pick up a blowout win over Western Kentucky in his head coaching debut.|
ABOUT THE PANEL:
> Adam Hochfelder is the Executive Director of DCTF and several other IMG College properties
> Dennis Hall is a managing editor with DCTF
> Travis Stewart is a managing editor with DCTF
> Brad Hilliard is the operations coordinator for DCTF and several other IMG College properties
> Tom Sullivan is an account executive for DCTF
> Rick Epstein is an account executive for DCTF (inactive this week)