DCTF Non-FBS Power Poll - Summer Edition

Photo courtesy Hardin-Simmons Athletics

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It’s time to examine the Texas non-FBS teams' rankings as some players arrive on campus for summer workouts. These power rankings are intended to demonstrate a team's ranking in relation to its respective division and are not designed to determine how teams would fare in a head-to-head contest.

1. Kilgore – The Rangers were NJCAA national semifinalists last season and have won back-to-back SWJCFC titles. Willie Gooden is one of the most underrated coaches in the country and will have Kilgore ready to battle for a three-peat in the conference and, hopefully, a NJCAA championship.

2. UIW – Clint Killough and company felt snubbed by the FCS playoff committee last year and are using this as fuel for 2024. The Cardinals return 17 players, not including specialists, who started a game last season. Another run to the FCS semifinals isn’t out of reach.

3. Trinity – Maybe this seems wild since the Tigers lost so much production from last season’s squad. But Jerheme Urban and staff have built the program to a level where they now reload instead of rebuilding. Trinity has plenty of talent and game experience returning. They will be a national threat again this year.

4. Angelo State – Are you surprised to see the Rams ahead of the Falcons? Some people within the Lone Star Conference are unsurprised and believe Angelo State has the talent to make another run toward the NCAA Division II national title game in McKinney. 

5. Hardin-Simmons – The Cowboys are the reigning outright American Southwest Conference champions. Anyone curious about how HSU will handle its title defense should understand that this program has been consistently in the top 10 under Jesse Burleson. The Cowboys will be a national contender again this season.

6. UTPB – This is where I remind you the top 10 teams in this power poll could challenge for a national title. The defending LSC champions are likely to receive motivation from their spot, but make no mistake – the Falcons have the talent to win a national championship this season. The play of quarterback Dylan Graham will determine how far the Falcons fly in 2024.

7. Tarleton – Seeing the Texans in this position should not be a surprise, considering that some pundits believe they would’ve had a legitimate shot at making the FCS playoffs if they had been eligible last year. Tarleton is now eligible for the playoffs and is a contender to win the United Athletic Conference.

8. Mary Hardin-Baylor – I’m willing to bet that last year was an aberration and not a sign of things to come for the Crusaders. UMHB had one of the most challenging schedules last year, which resulted in four losses against top-25 competition. The Cru was a young team last year, and that experience and an intense off-season will make UMHB ready to return to its dominant self.

9. Prairie View A&M – While the Panthers may not be a contender to win an FCS title this year, PVAMU seeks a return to the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game. A win in the SWAC title game would put the Panthers in the Celebration Bowl for the de facto national championship of black college football.

10. Trinity Valley – Not many teams in the NJCAA can challenge Kilgore, but the Cardinals is one program capable of winning every game. If TVCC can win its second SWJCFC title in three years, the Cardinals would be a threat to make the national semifinals. At that point, anything can happen.

11. Texas WesleyanNew head coach Brad Sherrod hopes to lead the Rams to the program’s first appearance in the NAIA playoffs.

12. McMurry – The War Hawks' move to the SCAC has them dreaming of their first NCAA Division III playoff appearance since 2011.

13. Stephen F. Austin – The Lumberjacks slot a bit higher after announcing their return to the Southland for the 2024 season.

14. Howard Payne – The double round-robin schedule format in the ASC provides a dangerous Yellow Jackets squad with an opportunity to take down HSU or UMHB.

15. Texas A&M-Kingsville – On paper, the Javelinas are a step below UTPB, Angelo State, and Central Washington. Thankfully, the games aren’t played on paper.

16. Lamar – It’s possible many, including yours truly, are underestimating what the Cardinals will accomplish this season, which is a testament to Peter Rossomando and his staff.

17. Houston Christian – The Southland Conference race will be fun to watch this fall, with the Huskies joining Lamar and SFA as legitimate contenders for the title in Jason Bachtel’s first season.

18. Navarro – A consistent force in the SWJCFC, the Bulldogs will remain a regional and national threat in 2024.

19. West Texas A&M – WT isn’t in the top tier of the LSC, but many believe they will be much closer to the top teams in Josh Lynn’s second season.

20. Abilene Christian – The depth across the non-FBS landscape in Texas is insane. ACU should not be this low entering 2024, yet here we are.

21. Blinn – Many believe the Buccaneers filled its roster with a talented high school class, which could lead to a spot in the SWJCFC playoffs this year.

22. East Texas Baptist – ETBU will be better this year, but the record might not accurately reflect the talent on this roster due to the ASC’s double round-robin format.

23. Tyler – The Apaches have fielded a solid team each season since Tanner Jacobson assumed control of the program. But solid means average in the challenging SWJCFC.

24. Midwestern State – MSU’s roster experienced more turnover than expected under Rich Renner’s guidance, leaving the Mustangs short on depth entering 2024.

25. SAGU – The university that will be named Nelson in July hopes to experience a resurgence under head coach and SAGU alum Jared Hudgins

26. Texas Lutheran – TLU will challenge McMurry for the SCAC title this season, which could earn it a spot in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

27. Southwestern – The Pirates faithful are happy to move to the SAA. But the new conference isn’t much easier, with Trinity and Berry among the top teams.

28. Cisco – Charlie Rizzio is the third head coach in the last three seasons to roam the sideline for the Wranglers. Regardless, Cisco will be a difficult team to defeat.

29. Texas Southern – The Chris Dishman era could be successful if the Tigers fans, donors, and administration give him enough time to build the program. That’s a big if.

30. Texas A&M-Commerce – The Lions should be better on offense, with Clint Dolezel calling plays. This could result in a few more wins if the defense is at least average.

31. Wayland Baptist – WBU is another team hoping a change in the play-caller will boost the offense and lead to more victories in a challenging Sooner Athletic Conference.

32. Austin College – The Kangaroos will be better in Tony Joe White’s second season. However, the staff still needs time to build the depth necessary to compete consistently.

33. North American – The Stallions will play a full Sooner Athletic Conference schedule in 2024 as Kenneth Apande continues to steer NAU into becoming a full-time NAIA member.

34. Sul Ross State – SRSU will likely struggle as it transitions into NCAA Division II and plays a full Lone Star Conference schedule in 2024.

35. Texas College – Jarrail Jackson is doing everything he can to lead the Steers to on-field success, but not having athletic scholarships is a disadvantage in NAIA.

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