Winning a national championship should be the goal for every college football team in the country. 31 schools (32 if you count UCF) have achieved this feat in the modern poll era which leaves just under 100 schools that have yet to taste the holy grail. When it comes to power five schools, the second loss virtually eliminates any chance you may have at making the college football playoff, and the majority of power five schools will suffer at least two losses halfway through the season. Which is why for most schools, the true realistic goal is the conference championship.
Winning the Big 12 championship gives you innate bragging rights over your rivals and peers and is the primary goal for all ten teams in the conference. Now with the Big 12 championship game every year, it gives teams an even greater chance of hoisting the bowl shaped trophy. Teams have used the non-conference for the important season ahead and some teams have enter Big 12 play on a high while other teams wish they had more time to get ready. However, ready or not conference play is here.
1. Oklahoma (-)
The Sooners have already gotten a taste of conference play as they went into Ames, Iowa and came away with a victory over the Cyclones. Kyler Murray was efficient as usual throwing for 348 yards and three touchdowns, and though the defense seemed porous at times, they were able to make stops when necessary. Oklahoma has looked to be the most talented team in the conference, however this game did show they can be vulnerable.
2. West Virginia (-)
The Mountaineers game against NC State was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence, but this team will get another chance to flex their muscles soon as they get a home game against K-State next.
3. Oklahoma State (+1)
The Cowboys faced their first big test of the season and came out unscathed defeating previously 17th-ranked Boise State. Oklahoma State came into the game as underdogs to the star quarterback Brett Rypien and company yet came out looking like true Big 12 title contenders. Taylor Cornelius’ dual threat ability shone through as he scored one touchdown in the air and two on the ground. OSU will have another home test this weekend and high scoring Texas Tech comes into town.
4. TCU (-1)
The frogs were heavy underdogs in the prime-time game and I was not expecting TCU to defeat Ohio State. However for two and a half quarters, it looked like Gary Patterson’s group was going to pull it off. Then a pick six happened, then a blocked punt leading to 24 touchdown pass, then an eight play drive and before you know it, Ohio State had scored 21 points in roughly eight minutes. If you would’ve told me TCU would lose to Ohio State by 12, I wouldn’t have thought any less of TCU, but the way they lost can’t have TCU fans feeling good. The potential is definitely there, this defense is the best in the conference and one of the best in the country, however a 24/40 night with three turnovers from quarterback Shawn Robinson can’t be ignored. This team has so much potential, but it may not get reached this season.
5. Texas Tech (+1)
The Red Raiders seemed to have saved Kliff Kingsbury’s job, for now at least. Texas Tech simply could not go into conference play with a 1-2 record and that desperation showed from the offensive side of the ball. After an opening drive touchdown, Tech punted on the next three possessions and quickly saw their lead evaporate. Alan Bowman and company went on to score a touchdown on eight of the next 10 drives. Bowman broke the Big 12 freshman passing yards record with 605 while Antoine Wesley broke the school record for receiving yards with 261. The Houston defense isn’t full of slouches either as future top NFL draft pick Ed Oliver was in the trenches, however after his early dominance he was quickly mitigated by a tough offensive line. It seems as though, like always, Tech’s offense will give them a chance to win any game, however the defense will give them a chance to lose any game. WIth the return of Jah’Shawn Johnson this week at Oklahoma State, hopefully Tech fans will see the big play limited.
6. Texas (+1)
The Longhorns are not back, but it was a nice win last Saturday. Texas was the third home underdog to get a win as they defeated USC fairly handily. After USC jumped out to an easy 14-3 lead, Texas overwhelmed their opponent outscoring them 34-0 in the final three quarters. The offense still should leaves fans worried, however the defensive talent on this team is fantastic. Brandon Jones, Kris Boyd and Anthony Wheeler had big games and showed what the defense can do. If Ehlinger and company can match the production on the offensive side of the ball then MAYBE we can talk about Texas potentially being back.
7. Iowa State (-2)
The Cyclones simply can’t find a way for both units to come together. Against Iowa, the offense sputtered the entire game, and against Oklahoma the defense couldn’t stop the balanced attack when necessary. Every time it seemed that Iowa State was back in the game, Oklahoma’s offense pushed it back to a two score game. The defense couldn't seem to get stops when they absolutely had to. That being said, this Iowa State team is still dangerous. Because of the early season cancellation, they never got the necessary tune-up game. They will this upcoming weekend against Akron as they will need it before heading to Ft. Worth for a big showdown with TCU.
8. Kansas State (+1)
The Wildcats put their money where their mouth is.
As long as you move K-State ahead of Baylor if the 'Cats can win by more than 17 points, we're good.— Ahearn Alley (@AhearnAlley) September 13, 2018
K-State does deserve to be moved up as they beat UTSA by more points than Baylor did. Skylar Thompson finally showed some efficiency both in the air and on the ground, and the defense truly showed out. That being said, there were still issues with this team. Four total fumbles for this team, three coming from the quarterback position. Luckily K-State recovered two of them, however those errors simply can’t happen against better competition. Next week they head to Morgantown and this defense will truly be put to the test.
9. Baylor (-1)
The Bears figured out that the rebuild is still in process. After already eclipsing their win total from last season, some people thought Baylor had what it took to beat a somewhat comparable team. That belief went away rather quickly. Baylor fans blinked and before they knew it, it was 23-0 at halftime. The 27 second half points were cute but this game was all but finished halfway through the third when Duke pulled off a draining 11-play drive to go up 30-13. Baylor had to throw the ball around as they were playing from behind, neither Brewer nor McClendon was able to consistently get much going. This looks to be another long season for Baylor.
10. Kansas (-)
The Jayhawks have a winning record, I repeat, the Kansas Jayhawks actually have a winning record. Besides the win against Texas in 2016, this Rutgers win might be the best Kansas victory in recent memory. Despite Kansas doing Kansas things, like getting two field goals blocked and fumbling out of bounds after an attempted hurdle, the Jayhawks dominated this matchup from start to finish. The last time Kansas beat an FBS opponent this badly, was in 2007 against Baylor, that year Kansas went 12-1. May we see a similar season from the Jayhawks? Hell no. But it’s fun that Kansas finally got to experience what complete domination feels like before they get hit with reality. Kansas may has another opportunity to get a win this upcoming Saturday in Waco and I, for one, am hoping for more of this.