Not only was it a bye week for Texas Tech and TCU, it was also a bye week for these power rankings. Much has happened in the past two weeks that has absolutely turned this conference on its head and has left us with more questions than answers. Is Texas actually back? Is Oklahoma even scarier without Mike Stoops? Who is going to be the quarterback for half of the teams in the league? We can only hope to figure these out in the coming weeks.
1. West Virginia (-)
The Mountaineers have looked like the best team in the conference all the way up until about two weeks ago where they barely pulled out a win over a Texas Tech team who was playing with a third-string quarterback and then finding themselves in a close game at home against Kansas. As the last undefeated team remaining, West Virginia still has quite the schedule in front of them with the Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and TCU still left. Will Grier and his team are going to have to earn it every step of the way from here on out starting with a trap game in Ames, Iowa this Saturday.
2. Texas (+2)
I am in no way ready to say that Texas is back, lest not forget they still lost to Maryland and struggled against Tulsa. However, this Texas team has improved and the win over Oklahoma was impressive. Sam Ehlinger seems to be learning how to play to his strengths and more importantly not commit turnovers. Ehlinger had just under 400 yards throwing and running and seemed to be an automatic conversion every time Texas had a third and short. Some cause for concern for the Longhorns may be that their best running back seems to be their quarterback which is never good and that their stout defense gave up 45 points and seemed to implode in the fourth quarter however, considering they already played the only other stout defense in the conference in TCU and played possibly the best offense in the conference in Oklahoma, Texas actually has a path towards a conference championship for the first time since 2009.
3. Oklahoma (-1)
Oklahoma may be down, but they are in no way out. Lincoln Riley seemed to have been looking for just the slightest reason to get Mike Stoops out and he finally found it after the defense gave up 48 points to Texas and sent Stoops on his way out the door. Now with his mentor Ruffin McNeil at the helm of this defense the rest of the conference should be very scared. Texas Tech and East Carolina fans know all too well how good a coach McNeil is and if he has this defense playing as well as he had those two teams playing, Oklahoma may reach heights we haven’t seen from them. Kyler Murray may have lost but he did so in style and is still very much in the Heisman conversation and with TCU, Oklahoma State and West Virginia still on the schedule plus a potential Big 12 championship game, Oklahoma still has all their goals right in front of them.
4. Texas Tech (-1)
Texas Tech gave West Virginia a 25 point head start and still had the ball within one possession with a third string QB by the end of the game. The Red Raiders proved that they can be one of the best teams in the conference when they want to be and can still pull off one of the best seasons in recent memory. On the flip side, Tech has looked very vulnerable in the first half of every FBS game this year. Tech has been behind at the end of the first quarter of every non-Lamar game this season and that is a trend that simply has to stop if they want to improve. This week’s game against TCU will show everyone what this team is made of, whether they will compete with the three teams above them or whether they will fade to the bottom like most years of the Kingsbury tenure.
5. TCU (+1)
TCU has arguably the best defense in the Big 12 and continue to show it, but the offensive ineptitude continue to plague them. After a dissapointing loss to Texas, TCU followed that up with squeaking out a win at home against Iowa State. Shawn Robinson is now nursing a shoulder injury that may have him limited in the upcoming game vs. Tech, however he still gave up two turnovers before his injury. TCU’s inability to hold onto the ball will ultimately lead to their demise despite the amount of talent this team has. TCU needs this win Thursday night just as much as Tech does to right the ship on their once very promising season.
6. Iowa State (+1)
The Cyclones seem to be improving as the season goes on. After back to back losses to open the year, Iowa State came a field goal away from getting their first conference win against TCU, and then earned the win the following weekend in Stillwater against ranked Oklahoma State. Third string QB Brock Purdy came in and provided the offensive spark the Cyclones have been needing and dropped 48 points on the Cowboys. The defense has been there all season but the offense had been lacking until Purdy’s output. If Purdy was indeed the missing key to unlocking this offense’s potential, then we’ve only seen the beginning of what this team is capable of.
7. Oklahoma State (-2)
We’re still trying to figure out what this year’s version of Oklahoma State actually is. They’ve beaten a top 20 Boise State team and then followed that up with losses to unranked Texas Tech and unranked Iowa State both at home. Oklahoma State fans have blamed Taylor Cornelius for their struggles however he did his part in their loss to Iowa State, it was the defense that struggled, especially dealing with a dual threat quarterback. The up and down nature of this team will surely lead to more downs than up with Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia and TCU all still left on the schedule.
8. Baylor (-)
Baylor now has four times as many wins as they did last year and are only two wins away from being bow eligible. Unfortunately for Baylor, the rest of the schedule won’t lead itself to many more opportunities. Baylor won’t be favored in any remaining game this season, but the battle against K-State showed the resilience of this team. After a back and forth battle between the two, Charlie Brewer lead the Bears to a game winning drive to end it and showed what this team could be in the future, but considering the opponent, it’s safe to say that we shouldn’t be expecting much more of this the rest of the way.
9. Kansas State (-)
K-State may not get a conference win till 11/9 when the Jayhawks come to town, because we’ve reached the point where we know who the duds of the conference are. The Wildcats join their fellow state school in football ineptitude this season and though they’ve made it competitive against Texas and Baylor, I do not see any other game this year they can win. That being said Bill Snyder has been known to have more than a few tricks up his sleeve and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least for m to be completely wrong and they go off and pull off a major upset against one of the top teams in the conference.
10. Kansas (-)
Kansas has done a decent job of at least looking competitive this year as they have not lost by more than three touchdowns all season. Kansas does have one more chance at a conference win in the Sunshine State Showdown however all we can ask is for them to keep games semi competitive going forward.