Holy cow this weekend in the Big 12 was absolutely crazy. I don’t think the conference title picture as ever been as wide open as it is now. Right now, there are four teams in my opinion that could be playing in Arlington on December 5th. Spoiler Alert: Yes, to me, Oklahoma can still get in.
1. Iowa State (Overall: 2-1, Conference: 2-0)
This Cyclones team has rebounded incredibly after their week one loss against Louisiana-Lafayette. With a narrow victory against TCU and an impressive win against no. 18 Oklahoma, the Cyclones have positioned themselves at the top of the conference and as a contender for the Big 12 title game. In their victory against Oklahoma, we finally saw Brock Purdy start to catch his stride with a 254 yard, one touchdown performance in their victory Saturday night. We also saw this defense hold an explosive Oklahoma offense to 414 yards of total offense and they forced Spencer Rattler to look uncomfortable, making untimely decisions that ultimately led to their upset against the Sooners.
2. Oklahoma State (Overall: 3-0, Conference: 2-0)
The Cowboys have played pretty good football these last couple weeks with wins against West Virginia and Kansas, scoring a total of 74 points in the two victories. The offense has played pretty good with Shane Illingworth at the helm, combining for over 500 yards of total offense in Saturday’s 47-7 victory against the Jayhawks. Illingworth tossed for 265 yards and three touchdowns, showing that he can take care of this offense in Spencer Sanders’ absence. Chuba Hubbard also managed to get involved with two touchdowns and 145 yards rushing. The Cowboys defense is also looking stout limiting the Jayhawks to 193 yards of total offense. Maybe this Oklahoma State team can make a run at the title. But, a tough three game stretch against Iowa State, Texas and Kansas State could rain on the Cowboys parade.
3. West Virginia (Overall: 2-1, Conference: 1-1)
The Mountaineers have also been a team making waves early in the season despite a loss against Oklahoma State last weekend. In slim 21-27 overtime victory against Baylor on Saturday, Jarret Deoge struggled at times but otherwise put on a decent one touchdown, 211 passing yard performance. Some may scoff at that stat line but I think against a tough Baylor defense, that performance is something to build on for a quarterback who’s in his first year under center. On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears were intercepted twice and held the run game to only 27 yards. Looking ahead, the Mountaineers could potentially suffer one or two losses in their next three games with bouts against Kansas, Texas Tech and Kansas State. The Mountaineers could slide a little bit but it shouldn’t be dramatic.
4. Texas (Overall: 2-1, Conference: 1-1)
While the Longhorns may look down after a tough loss 33-31 to TCU, I don’t think it’s a sign for things to come out of this team. Sam Ehlinger still looks like the best quarterback in the conference, tossing four touchdowns with 236 yards passing. If anything out of this team needs improvement, it’s the defense. They allowed 457 yards of total offense against the Horned Frogs and kept them on the field for over 34 minutes. If this team wants a legitimate shot at the Big 12 title, the defense needs to improve.
5. Texas Christian (Overall: 1-1, Conference: 1-1)
The Horned Frogs are the best .500 team in the conference. They managed to walk into Austin and steal a 33-31 victory from the Longhorns. On offense, Max Duggan seems to be the guy Gary Patterson wants leading his team moving forward. Duggan went 20-for-30 with 231 yards passing with two rushing touchdowns and 79 yards on the ground. While the defense needs to improve, I think this TCU team has the potential to make a run.
6. Oklahoma (Overall: 1-2, Conference: 1-1)
The Sooners are probably the most disappointing team in the country after suffering two straight losses against Kansas State and Iowa State. Both ending in Spencer Rattler forcing a throw into coverage, resulting in game ending interceptions. This team cannot find its footing with Rattler behind center and it could result in Oklahoma losing out on its chance to go to Arlington for the first time since 2017. On the bright side, Oklahoma’s next three games could right the ship as they’ll do battle with Texas, TCU and Texas Tech.
7. Kansas State (Overall: 2-1, Conference: 2-0)
Kansas State is coming off of two great wins against Oklahoma and Texas Tech. Despite upsetting a perennial powerhouse in Oklahoma and beating a Texas Tech team that can’t finish big games, I don’t think the Wildcats have much room to rise with Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Texas and potentially Oklahoma all in the race for the Big 12 title game. Kansas State possesses a strong defense that makes quarterbacks uncomfortable and forces turnovers. On the offensive side of the ball, the Wildcats receivers can get themselves open and help their quarterbacks and running backs move the ball through the air and on the ground.
8. Baylor (Overall: 1-1, Conference: 1-1)
In the second game of the season, Baylor continues to show that they don’t miss Matt Rhule depite a tough two overtime loss to West Virginia on Saturday. Charlie Brewer is slowly ascending into the top three best quarterbacks in the conference with his three touchdown, 229 yard passing performance against the Mountaineers. Baylor has a ton of potential to rise but they need to get a run game that only had 27 rushing yards on Saturday going. Not to mention the Bears next three games can make or break their season as they look to face Oklahoma State, Texas and TCU in the coming week.
9. Texas Tech (Overall: 1-2, Conference: 0-2)
Well it seems like Texas Tech can’t catch a break as another loss came in the form of a comeback that never hit. Also, Alan Bowman left the game with a leg injury that introduced Red Raider nation to Utah State transfer Henry Colombi. I too was questioning the move to put in Colombi over Maverick McIvor, and it could be seen as criteria to potentially fire Matt Wells. But we’re not here to speculate what will happen to Wells and Co. after this season (Sonny Cumbie would’ve been a great hire btw), we’re here to talk about what happened on Saturday. Against the Wildcats, it didn’t seem like the offense really had a game plan for what that defense could do. The offense looked to be in complete disarray in the first half and ironically enough, playcalling improved once Colombi came into the game in place of Bowman. I have to give it to the play of Henry Colombi, while he looked uncomfortable at times, he was able to extend plays with his legs, getting 40-yards on the ground and was able to get the Red Raiders within reach before a two touchdown Wildcat fourth quarter to end the game. Colombi went 30-for-42, 244 yards and two touchdowns to one interception. Xavier White did all that he could with 114 yards rushing and one touchdown. On the defensive side, I mean holy cow, after the ejection of Riko Jeffers for targeting, it seemed like this defense almost gave up. This team is in complete disarray right now and they have to get it together.
10. Kansas (Overall: 0-3, Conference: 0-2)
Well I don’t think things could get much worse for the Jayhawks after suffering three straight losses to open the year. Nonetheless, I think it’s safe to say that Les Miles has to get a handle on this team and find a way for his guys to right the ship before having another disappointing year. Although, I do think that Conference USA could use another team.