As Big 12 play continues to move along, the conference pecking order is starting to sort itself out. That tells a few things about the ten teams in the Big 12 and where they stand right now.
1. Welcome To The Big 12
Three of the four new coaches in the conference had rough a time in Big 12 play this last weekend. Kansas lost by 37 points, and Texas Tech lost by 39, both five possession losses that were over basically by halftime. Kansas State’s matchup was more competitive, but the Wildcats never really controlled their contest against the Pokes. Each of those programs hired good coaches to rejuvenate their programs in the offseason. The only problem? The Big 12 already has a few guys with skins on the wall. Last weekend was a reminder that to be the best, you have to beat the best.
2. The Red Raiders Have Problems Scoring
Despite the fact that football in Lubbock was long associated with video game-like offensive numbers, Texas Tech is averaging 15 points per game through their last two contests. Additionally, the Red Raiders have fourteen total touchdowns on the season, which is second-to-last in the entire Big 12. Granted, the level of opponents they’ve played skews that statistic somewhat, but it also highlights Texas Tech’s struggles getting on the scoreboard. With starting quarterback Alan Bowman out for the foreseeable future, there are good reasons to be worried about the offense and its ability to propel the Red Raiders through conference play.
3. The State Of Oklahoma Has Offense
Of all the Big 12 squads that have question marks on the offensive side of the ball, both the Sooners and the Cowboys have things figured out when it comes to moving the chains and reaching the endzone. Both teams are in the top two of the conference when in terms of total offense, with each racking up over 500 yards of offense a game.
4. TCU Does NOT Like Losing To SMU
The Horned Frogs really came out with a sense of purpose on Saturday, and showcased the type of hard-nosed mentality that should give us a reason to think they can be competitive in the Big 12 come November. TCU looked practically unstoppable running the ball against Kansas, and combined with a stingy defense, they’ve got a formula for success that could pay off big against the higher tiers of the Big 12. The only catch? TCU has to be able to do that when they line up against with more highly touted talent on the other side of the ball.
5. The Pokes Are In This Race
No. 21 Oklahoma State is 1-1 in Big 12 play, but with their win over Kansas State in Stillwater, the Cowboys are showing that they deserve to be considered as part of the upper tier of squads in the league. As the only other Top 25 team outside of Texas and Oklahoma, the 4-1 Pokes have stoodout and are becoming an almost undisputed No. 3 in the conference. If the next few weeks are just as strong as September for OSU, all of a sudden that Bedlam game in late November has an intriguing story line to it.
6. Kansas State Brings The Defense
The Wildcats held Oklahoma State to 26 points, which is a season low for the Pokes. Kansas State struggled on the other side of the ball, and were unable to put up more than a field goal for most of the game in Stillwater against a defense that had its issues going into that game. Against some of the more dangerous offensive players in college football, though, Klieman’s group showed that they can hold their own. It’s probably not enough to consider the wildcats a title contender at this point, but the future definitely looks bright in Manhattan right now.
7. Circle The Wagons, Cyclones
Iowa State is in a “do or die” situation at this point if they hope to ultimately be in the thick of the Big 12 race in November. The offense looked out of sync last Saturday against what is – admittedly – an improving Baylor defensive unit, and despite a barrage of scoring late, fell to 0-1 in league play. Matt Campbell’s group next hosts a TCU team that just put a 50-burger on Kansas last week, so now would be a good time for Iowa State to find some rhythm.
8. Baylor Has Momentum
The Bears are not even ranked in the Top 25, but they might be gaining more steam than any other Big 12 squad after edging out Iowa State in Waco. Baylor looked especially good along both lines of scrimmage last Saturday, an area where they were thought to have still had kinks to work out. After the upset of the Cyclones, the Bears are now one of two undefeated teams in the league, and should definitely be considered a top team in the Big 12.
9. How Many More Miles To Go?
The Jayhawks’ loss to TCU on Saturday feels like a step back for a program that was really starting to make strides despite not winning games. Kansas became the first Big 12 squad to fall below .500 on the season, a milestone I’m sure wasn’t welcomed by the new coaching staff. If Kansas can even slow down the Sooners this Saturday, that would itself be an accomplishment. It’s hard to see the Jayhawks – who gave up 38 points in the first half against a Horned Frogs offense that’s still figuring itself out – being able to do that right now.
10. Sooners Ain’t Played Nobody
Is it time for the Red River Showdown yet? Whether or not it’s a good thing, it definitely feels like the Sooners have a back-loaded schedule this season. Of course, the reigning Big 12 champs have looked the part to this point in the season, and that’s got a lot to do with why the Sooners are outscoring opponents 222-75. Still, the fact of the matter is that Oklahoma likely won’t get a significant test until serious conference foes begin to take them on. Saturday they take on the Jayhawks, who haven’t beaten the Sooners since 1997.