Things are heating up as we enter the home stretch of the regular season. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia are the favorites to win the conference, but who’s the team to beat?
—– THE BASEMENT —–
10. KANSAS JAYHAWKS
PREV RANK: 10
RECORD: 1-8 (0-6)
WEEK 10: Lost To WVU, 21-48
The Jayhawks hang their hat on defense, but in the Big 12, that just isn’t enough. No defense can last in this league without giving up yards and points. At some point, you have to be able to put some offense on the field.
9. IOWA STATE CYCLONES
PREV RANK: 9
RECORD: 1-8 (0-6)
WEEK 10: Lost To OU, 24-34
It sounds strange for a 1-win team, but Iowa State fans have to be encouraged by what they’ve seen so far this season. In recent week they’ve played Baylor, Oklahoma State and K-State close.
It’s great to see the team continue to fight, continue to improve and it’s good to see that coach Matt Campbell is not satisfied with moral victories as he mixes up the depth chart.
8. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
PREV RANK: 6
RECORD: 4-5 (2-4)
WEEK 10: Lost To Texas, 37-45
I’m calling it. Texas Tech is in the basement, and I don’t see them climbing out. They’ve won just two conference games, and were just manhandled by a team that is preparing to fire their head coach at season’s end.
As bad as Tech’s pass defense is, their run defense may be even worse. They gave up an NCAA record number of touchdowns in a game to ASU running back Kalen Ballage, WVU ran for 332 yards and five touchdowns, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon gashed the defense for 263 yards and two TDs on just 31 carriers, and Texas back D’Onta Foreman averaged over 10 yards a carry for 341 yards and three touchdowns. That’s horrendous.
Looking ahead, Tech’s only probable win left is Iowa State, and I’m not sure the Cyclones can’t get the Red Raiders.
—– TIER 3 —–
7. BAYLOR BEARS
PREV RANK: 4
RECORD: 6-2 (3-2)
WEEK 10: Lost To TCU, 22-62
If only Baylor was as defiant on the field as they are in the headlines. What happened against TCU is not just a team short of depth, it’s a team that has packed it in. They are done. There is just no excuse to lose by 40 at home to a team that’s already dropped four games.
Baylor nation may want to advert their eyes this weekend, because there’s going to be a bloodbath in Norman as the Sooners dismember the Bears.
6. TEXAS LONGHORNS
PREV RANK: 7
RECORD: 5-4 (3-3)
WEEK 10: Beat TTU, 45-37
The Longhorns got the win over Texas Tech last weekend, and at least now they can’t do any worse than the last two seasons.
The Longhorns are on a 2-game win streak, but I’m not convinced it lasts. It’s a little bit of too little too late for coach Charlie Strong, and tensions in Austin will catch up with this team.
Running back D’Onta Foreman will give coach Holgorsen and WVU nightmares, but if the Mountaineers can get up by a couple of scores by the third quarter, look for the fight to fade from the Longhorns as reality starts to sink in.
—– TIER 2 —–
5. TCU HORNED FROGS
PREV RANK: 8
RECORD: 5-4 (3-3)
WEEK 10: Beat Baylor, 62-22
Where did that come from? This was the TCU everyone expected at the beginning of the year, but is it real? Baylor is clearly a team with issues on and off the field, and it’s not surprising that the Frogs got up for a rivalry that has been crazy in the past.
The question is, how do they bounce back from the big win? They’ll have an extra week to figure that out with a bye this week, but with Oklahoma State up next, we’ll see if TCU is truly back.
4. KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
PREV RANK: 5
RECORD: 5-4 (3-3)
WEEK 10: Lost to OSU, 37,43
Um, what? The Wildcats lost and move up the power rankings?
Blame Baylor. Combine the total collapse by the Bears with no one behind the Wildcats being worthy of bumping them, and that’s what has happened.
Plus, we can’t totally ignore that if coach Bill Snyder goes for it on 4th and one at midfield up two possessions late in the game, there’s a good chance the Pokes are no longer a contender for the conference. That’s football though, and Snyder played the percentages. You win some, you lose some and nobody knows that better than coach Snyder.
—– THE CONTENDERS —–
3. OKLAHOMA SOONERS
PREV RANK: 3
RECORD: 7-2 (6-0)
WEEK 10: Beat ISU, 34-24
It wasn’t pretty at times, but they took care of business on a short week in Ames, and the Sooners are still undefeated in conference play. Record wise, Oklahoma is the team to beat in the Big 12.
QB Baker Mayfield, RB Joe Mixon and WR Dede Westbrook are playing on another level, but it’s still not clear if they will get much help from the defense against tougher opponents.
For now, the top three will remain the same. At least until someone gives us a reason to change it, which is inevitable.
2. OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS
PREV RANK: 2
RECORD: 7-2 (5-1)
WEEK 9: BEAT WEST VIRGINIA, 37-20
The Pokes survived a scare in Manhattan, and after a couple of close games didn’t go their way early in the year, they have to be breathing a sigh of relief in Stillwater. The Cowboys control their own destiny, but only one of their last three is at home.
The Big 12 could come down to Bedlam in Norman, and if Oklahoma State is to come out the champion, they will have earned it.
1. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS
PREV RANK: 1
RECORD: 6-1 (3-1)
WEEK 8: LOST TO OK STATE, 20-37
Despite what the CFB Playoff rankings say, the Mountaineers are the Big 12’s greatest hope. One, they are the only one-loss team remaining (despite what OSU coach Mike Gundy would have you believe) Two, no matter what happens, the conference needs help to get in, but the Mountaineers and Cowboys need a little less help than Oklahoma and their Ohio State problem.
The Mountaineers also have the easiest road remaining, getting OU and Baylor at home, and the best defense of the three contenders. And we all know the saying, ‘defense wins championships’. Well, we’re about to find out if that’s true or not.