After seven long weeks of college football and four weeks of Big 12 football, we are finally down to just one team left undefeated in conference play. Is it Oklahoma, the preseason leader in these power rankings, the team that won the Big 12 last year and have the 2014-15 Gatorade National Player of the Year quarterbacking the team? No. What about West Virginia, my preseason pick to win the conference and the team with arguably the best quarterback and wide receiver in the conference? Try again. Well then it must be TCU, the team known for its stout defense and has the most tenured coach in the Big 12. Not quite.
The honor of being the last team with an undefeated record in conference play actually goes to the Texas Longhorns. 10 years ago, that wouldn’t have been that much of a surprise, but with the latter end of the Mack Brown era funneling into the tumultous Charlie Strong era, the Longhorns have been more the butt of jokes, than a formiddable team. This year that seems to be changing with a strong defense led by DC Todd Orlando and an offense who’s done a better job of keeping the ball, this Texas team is actually proving doubters (myself included) wrong......so far.
1. Texas (+1)
It truly does pain me to put the Longhorns this high up, because I am truly not sold on this team. Let’s look at their season shall we? They opened the season with a loss to Maryland, who’s three other wins are simply Minnesota, Rutgers and Bowling Green coupled with a loss to Temple. They have gone on to upset three ranked opponents in USC, TCU and Oklahoma, however you can’t forget about Texas has struggled and barely squeaked out a win over Tulsa, Kansas State and Baylor, who’s current combined records are 8-12. All that being said, a win is a win and Texas has found ways to get the win at the end of the day. We’ll see where they go from here because it won’t be easy to stay atop the throne. There’s not an light game remaining on Texas’ schedule including the final one because we all know what happened last time they went to play that certain team on the road.
2. Oklahoma (+1)
The firing of Mike Stoops makes this team very intriguing. The Sooners were already still very much in the running for a playoff spot but now, with Ruffin McNeil at the helm of the defense, this team becomes very scary. Now we don’t know if we’ll see instant gratification, the personnel simply may not be there and it will take an adjustment period for the players. However, as someone who watched Tech football and ECU football during his tenures at both places, I am terrified of what Oklahoma could become.
3. West Virginia (-2)
I told you. I told you West Virginia, that you were going to have to earn it every step of the way and that journey would start in Ames, IA and it seems as if they did not listen. The Mountaineers were outclassed from the very start and for the past 10 quarters have not looked like the same team we’ve seen earlier in the year. This defense was gashed and the offense was forced to push the issue which resulted into forced passes and tough situations. The formula is out on how to beat West Virginia now and I am sure Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma will be studying that formula.
4. Texas Tech (-)
The Red Raiders went into Lubbock East and came away victors for the second straight time using defense. That game was probably the best defensive performance I’ve seen from the Red Raiders since this game, which is also the last time we held a conference opponent to two or less scores. Tech proved that they can win a game in which the offense struggles and it also makes you wonder just how good this team can be. Mind you, the only two losses this year came when the presumed starter went down with injury. Considering these Red Raiders went into Amon G. Carter stadium and came out with a win despite playing with their third string quarterback should make Red Raider fans excited for the rest of the season.
5. Iowa State (+1)
The move of the year may be Matt Campbell’s decision to go with formerly unknown Brock Purdy at quarterback. Purdy has come in and absolutely lit it up and there’s zero doubt in my mind that he’s taken the starting spot from both Zeb Noland and Kyle Kempt. Now, this Iowa State team’s potential has shot up and makes their match-up against Texas Tech in a week and a half a prime-time match-up (by prime-time, I mean 11 AM). West Virginia, Texas Tech and Texas wish Campbell would just go back to Noland and perform like Iowa State of old, but unfortunaltey this new-look team is going to cause some trouble going forward.
6. TCU (-1)
Just like that, TCU’s playoff and Big 12 championship chances wash away in the wind. TCU was a popular pick for pundits who didn’t want to pick Oklahoma to win the conference at the beginning of the year but now with three losses in their last four games, they just look and feel hopeless. The best way to feel better about themselves would be to upset Oklahoma this weekend at home, however there will likely be many Sooner fans in the crowd and Shawn Robinson vs Kyler Murray is just too much of a mismatch. At this point, the name of the game is building Robinson’s confidence an there won’t be too many profound defenses remaining. It’s time to remember that he’s young and you can still salvage him for the future..... or find someone else.
7. Baylor (+1)
A saying that I have come to live by is, “there’s no moral victories unless you aren’t good,” and Baylor simply isn’t good, therefore this past week’s loss can be categorized as a moral victory. The defense played fairly well in this game forcing a turnover and attempting to limit Texas’ offense. Charlie Brewer truly struggled especially when Baylor really needed a score. There were three straight drives in the fourth quarter in which Baylor could have taken the lead and in those drives Baylor came up with a combined zero points. As good as this offense looks at times, they still struggles against quality defenses. I won’t expect much from this team his week at West Virginia, but the following week against Oklahoma State could be interesting.
8. Kansas State (+1)
Snyder magic is alive and well. I figured K-State wouldn’t just lay down all season, and they showed fight in their upset of Oklahoma State. Skylar Thompson played subpar per usual, but it didn’t seem to matter as the defense came together and shut down Okie State. I still don’t think the Wildcats get another win this season until they play Kansas, but that win was fun.
9. Oklahoma State (-2)
What happened to this team? Remember when they beat 17th ranked Boise State? This simply does not look like the same team. Fans in Stillwater like to blame Taylor Cornelius but hlI believe there’s more to it than just him. The offense isn’t flowing and the play calling has been questionable to say the least. Gundy is having the most difficult season of his career and I’m not sure when the struggles will end.
10. Kansas (-)
The Jayhawks have two weeks to prepare for an upstart Red Raider team. Pooka Williams has been a revelation for this offense and Kansas has been competitive this year. Will this be the game where Kansas pulls off another Big 12 upset? Probably not, but with it being #respectKansasweek, these Jayhawks aren’t to be overlooked.