In our 2017 version of the Big 12 power rankings, we have averaged out the rankings of our main contributors at Heartland College Sports. These will be done on a weekly basis and released every Monday morning. A friendly reminder before trolling: Power Rankings can swing drastically week to week and are not simply a ranking on who the best teams are in the conference. 🙂
1. Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Pokes edge out for the top spot in this week’s Power Rankings. They played one of the tougher opponents of any Big 12 team in Week 1, smoking Tulsa 59-24. The Mason Rudolph-James Washington connection looked every bit as good as we would expect. As Gundy noted after the game, they need to clean up a couple of items on the turnover front, but overall it was as good an opener against a Group of 5 team as Mike Gundy’s team could have hoped for.
2. West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia was one of three Big 12 teams to lose this week, but they played by far the toughest opponent in Virginia Tech, which they deserve credit for. The good news for Mountaineers fans is that quarterback Will Grier looked like the real deal and Gary Jennings quickly became his favorite target. We’d like to see Jake Spavital use Justin Crawford more than he did and the defense had it’s issues with depth, but this still looks like a team that will be able to compete at the top of the Big 12.
3. Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners answered several questions many of us had in regards to who will fill the shoes of some of the top skill position players who left for the NFL. As it turns out, it may not be one star, but a collection of them as Baker Mayfield completed passes to 10 different receivers on Saturday. Also it was a balanced attack in the running game for OU, with four backs sharing the carries. Talent-wise, this is still likely the best team in the Big 12 conference and with the way this past weekend went for the Big 12, Saturday’s match up at Ohio State has even more meaning and purpose for the conference.
4. Kansas State Wildcats
Jesse Ertz showed us a side of him we have yet to see: an ability to throw the ball down field with precision and accuracy. He set a school record for Total QBR in a game. If this is the new Ertz and not simply an aberration against an FCS opponent, then Kansas State quickly becomes not just a dark horse to win the Big 12 conference, but a legitimate contender with the Oklahoma schools.
5. TCU Horned Frogs
There is speculation that TCU is going to surprise some people and have a big-time bounce back season and compete for the Big 12 title. Heck, Kirk Herbstreit thinks they are going to win the conference. The Horned Frogs had an impressive performance, but it was against Jackson State. We’ve all been teased by Kenny Hill before in games against lesser competition. The defense pitched a shut out and strutted its stuff, but once again… the competition wasn’t great. We will learn a ton more about this Horned Frogs team this weekend when they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks.
6. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Last week we felt that the Red Raiders might very well be on upset alert against FCS Eastern Washington, who beat Washington State last season. Instead, the Red Raiders went out there and waxed EWU 56-10. Nic Shimonek picked up where Patrick Mahomes left off with his efficiency (26/30, 300+ passing yards) and the running game piled up nearly 200 yards rushing. And yes, the defense, the freakin’ Texas Tech defense, looked respectable, holding Eastern Washington to under 100 rushing yards and 301 total yards. Let’s see what this team is all about…
7. Texas Longhorns
What a mess. All around. The secondary was constantly out of position, they gave up nearly 500 totals yards and lost the turnover battle. Also, the running game never got going and the offensive line, especially, and surprisingly, Connor Williams, did not live up to its expectations against a Maryland team that is improving, but still doesn’t have anywhere close to Texas’ talent. In many ways, this team looked exactly like the one Charlie Strong coached last season. That is far from what we had heard the entire offseason from Tom Herman and the local media in Austin. Chip Brown, Mr. 12-1 … Bueller??
8. Iowa State Cyclones
The Cyclones got the revenge they needed and should not have had much of a problem with. Jacob Park, Allen Lazard and David Montgomery were the leaders of the offense, as expected, and seven receivers made a catch. But the offense actually got off to a slow start and it was a couple of pick-sixes that helped kickstart the game for the Cyclones. Willie Harvey and Kamari Cotton-Moya were the early stars on defense for a unit that is looking to make major strides from last season.
9. Kansas Jayhawks
Even though Peyton Bender apparently didn’t know he was going to be KU’s starting quarterback until Saturday morning, the signal caller proved David Beaty right by throwing for over 350 yards and four touchdowns. On the team’s third offensive play of the game Bender hooked up with Steven Sims for a 77-yard touchdown which helped ease the entire team. Kansas is clearly starting to turn the corner as they easily beat an FCS team, which in recent years was not always the case.
10. Baylor Bears
It was the easy pick this week to have the Bears in the basement. They won’t be here all season, but giving up 48 points to an FCS team (that is transitioning to FBS), is still unacceptable. The Bears gave up nearly 600 yards of total offense to an FCS opponent and allowed the Flames to go 63% (15-24) on third downs. Baylor also lost the turnover battle 2-0. Hopefully this becomes a great learning experience for Matt Rhule with this group of players. They are far too talented to be losing games like this. I trust Rhule to turn this loss into a positive for the long-term future of this program.