The Texas 47: Ranking all Texas programs by tiers entering 2022

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We're football dorks who love big, crazy ideas here at Dave Campbell's Texas Football. The latest example of that mantra is the Texas 47 -- a tiered ranking of each of the 47 college football programs in the state of Texas from the Longhorns to Mary-Hardin Baylor all the way down to the JUCO level. We'll do a new Texas 47 each week based on previous results. Rather than ranking each team from 1-47, we decided to split the programs into tiers including national contenders, conference contenders, stock rising, holding steady, stock falling, or basement. 

Let the discussions (arguments?) begin. This is the brainchild of Mike Craven and Cory Hogue. 

National Contenders

Houston - The Cougars return quarterback Clayton Tune, wide receiver Nathaniel "Tank" Dell, and multiple playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. An undefeated season isn't out of the question. 

Baylor - The reigning Big 12 champions return the best offensive and defensive lines in the Big 12, and maybe the entire state of Texas. Dave Aranda is a rising star in the coaching world. 

Texas A&M - An elite recruiting class, a strong offensive line, and a stout defense provide national title aspirations for the Aggies. Texas A&M ranked sixth in the preseason AP Poll. 

Stephen F. Austin - SFA could compete for the national title this year. However, the key will be earning the highest possible national seed, which will require an undefeated regular season.

UIW - The Cardinals will be a national title contender if they can repeat as Southland champions and earn at least two home playoff games.

Mary Hardin-Baylor - The reigning national champion begins the season as a favorite to repeat and is loaded on both sides of the ball.

Trinity - One of only two teams to play UMHB within 10 points last year could be poised to pull off the upset and make a title run this year.

Conference Contenders

UTSA - The Roadrunners are the defending Conference USA champions. UTSA returns Frank Harris at quarterback, a trio of star receivers, and four starters along the offensive line. A tough out-of-conference schedule is a challenge. 

Texas - Scoff all you want but the Big 12 is winnable for about half of the conference in 2022, including the Longhorns. The amount of talent in Austin is rarely in question. Maybe Steve Sarkisian's crew can do what Dave Aranda's Baylor did in Year 2. 

Sam Houston - The Bearkats are not eligible to win the WAC or compete in the FCS playoffs due to an impending move to FBS. However, the Kats remain talented and could throw a wrench on SFA’s season.

Angelo State - The Rams advanced to the quarterfinals last year without winning the LSC and will need to replace key pieces on the o-line to make another deep run.

Midwestern State - The reigning LSC champions missed the playoffs last year but have made the playoffs every time they’ve had six home games since they joined DII. The Mustangs have six home games this year. 

Hardin-Simmons - The Cowboys is Cory Hogue’s pick to win the ASC this year in the magazine, and a win over UMHB would vault HSU into the national title picture.

Texas Wesleyan - The Rams have seven home games this year, including a showdown against the SAC favorite OUAZ on Sep. 17.

Blinn, Cisco, Kilgore, Navarro, Trinity Valley, Tyler - Whoever emerges from one of the toughest conferences at any level of college football will immediately become a national title contender. 

Stock Rising

UTEP - The Miners hope to reach a bowl game for consecutive seasons for the second time this century and only the third time as a program following a seven-win 2021. The Sun Bowl is expected to sellout for the Week 0 opener against North Texas. 

Abilene Christian - The Wildcats underwent a coaching change and a massive roster overhaul during the offseason. However, ACU is loaded with talent following the infusion of 19 former FBS players to the roster.

Lamar - The Cardinals return nearly every starter on both sides of the ball. Still, they remain at least a year away from being a conference contender with only ten upperclassmen on the roster.

Texas Southern - Clarence McKinney has done a magnificent job retooling the roster, but the young Tigers are still a year away from conference contention.

Texas A&M-Kingsville - The Javelinas are improved and added former LSC Preseason Player of the Year Miklo Smalls. Road games against West Texas A&M and Angelo State will determine if TAMUK is prepared to become a conference contender.

Holding Steady

Texas Tech - First-year head coach Joey McGuire injecting enthusiasm into the West Texas program, but a tough 2022 schedule could leave the Red Raiders at home during bowl season. 

TCU - Sonny Dykes moved across DFW to coach in the Big 12 with TCU. Replacing a legend is never an easy task, and that's exactly what Gary Patterson was in Fort Worth. Dykes passes a statue of Patterson every time he walks from the parking lot to his office. 

SMU - The Mustangs hired a familiar face to replace Sonn Dykes by nabbing his former offensive coordinator, Rhett Lashlee. SMU is talented offensively. 

Tarleton - The Texans serve their final year of transition to FCS with a young team that could become a conference contender next year.

Texas A&M-Commerce - The Lions begin the first of four transition seasons to FCS, and their depth will be tested this season. TAMUC will know where they stand after Week 3 against Sam Houston.

Prairie View A&M - The Panthers are a contender to earn a repeat appearance in the SWAC title game, but Jackson State is loaded and keeps PVAMU from being a conference contender.

West Texas A&M - WT is seeking more consistency this year and, if successful, could earn a playoff spot. The Buffs may be a conference contender by the end of September with wins over Western Colorado and Angelo State.

UTPB - A four-week stretch against Western Colorado, Angelo State, Western Oregon, and West Texas A&M beginning in Week 2 will determine if the Falcons are a conference contender this year.

Howard Payne - HPU’s stock could soon rise but will need to defeat Hardin-Simmons or UMHB to become a conference contender.

East Texas Baptist - ETBU is the definition of steady. The Tigers haven’t won more than seven games in a season since 2015 but haven’t had a losing record since 2014.

Southwestern - The Pirates’ stock will start rising if they win two of their first three games against Cal Lutheran, Belhaven, and UMHB.

McMurry - The War Hawks move from stock rising to steady to begin the 2022 season due to a challenging schedule with only one home game after Oct. 1.

Stock falling

North Texas - The Mean Green stormed to a bowl appearance in 2021 despite a 1-6 start to the season. With a move to the AAC upcoming, Seth Littrell's program must show signs of improvement to remain in Denton long term. 

Texas Lutheran - TLU has fallen on tough times the last few years and has undergone two coaching changes since the end of 2019. However, the Bulldogs will return to a conference contender if they defeat HPU and Trinity in the season's first two weeks.

Austin College - The ‘Roos struggled to a 1-8 record in their return to the ASC. Unfortunately, 2022 could be another year of struggle with only seven seniors on the roster.

SAGU - The Lions have had a whirlwind of an offseason with a coaching change in late May. However, a win at the SAC title favorite OUAZ in Week 2 would propel SAGU into conference contention.

Wayland Baptist - The Pioneers have not posted a .500 record since 2018, and the win total has fallen steadily since. Nevertheless, WBU has a favorable early schedule, with four of its first five games at home.

Basement

Rice - The Owls are 11-31 since head coach Mike Bloomgren arrived prior to the 2018 season. That's especially concerning considering a move to the AAC takes place in 2023. 

Texas State - The 4-8 finish in 2021 was the best for the Bobcats since 2014. Texas State hasn't reached a bowl game since becoming an FBS program. 

Houston Baptist - The Huskies could win their first two games of the year against Northern Colorado and Lindenwood yet struggle to avoid the basement in the Southland this year.

Sul Ross State - The Lobos’ schedule this year is brutal, with road games against Trinity, Texas A&M-Kingsville, Hardin-Simmons, UMHB, and ETBU.

Texas College - The Steers’ program has struggled, with their last winning season coming in 2005. The 2022 schedule isn’t favorable for TC, with four of its first five games on the road.

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