Ah yes, they are BACK. The power rankings are here as we wrap up the first weekend of Big 12 football. In our 2018 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 based on who we think are the best teams in the conference, but rather based on the games that have been played to date.
1. Oklahoma Sooners (Last week: 2)
After one week away from the top spot, the Sooners are back in the No. 1 position. It’s hard to argue after bouncing back from a disappointing overtime win against Army with a 30-point blowout of the Baylor Bears. The Sooners could’ve easily scored 70 points on the Bears if they wanted to. Kyler Murray went on to account for a ridiculous seven touchdowns in the win and is putting himself near the top of the Heisman conversation. But all eyes now turn to this week’s showdown with the Texas Longhorns in the Red River Rivalry, the first time since 2012 that both teams are ranked.
2. West Virginia Mountaineers (Last week: 1)
The Mountaineers got off to a red-hot start against Texas Tech in Lubbock, jumping out to a 28-7 lead. But from there, West Virginia struggled, and the offense was held scoreless in the second half of the game. Maybe part of it was because of Jett Duffey, a dual-threat QB, replacing the pocket-passer Alan Bowman, but still, this was a bit concerning. It does feel like WVU has yet to put together a complete game where it plays all four quarters as well as it can. This week won’t be much of a test with the Kansas Jayhawks rolling into Morgantown, a game WVU is favored in by nearly 30 points.
3. Texas Longhorns (Last week: 3)
A 19-0 lead in the first half resulted in a 19-14 win. You take the win against a desperate K-State team, but you also still wonder and debate what exactly Texas is this season and how good this team is. The offense only scored 10 points, as 9 points came courtesy of the defense. We know the defense is strong, minus the debacle of Week 1 against Maryland. But can the offense continue to improve at the pace that is required to compete at the top of the Big 12? Tom Herman called the plays Saturday against Kansas State, since Tim Beck did not make the trip, and while the offense looked a bit more creative, the unit still had its issues. The offense will have to put some points on the board this weekend against OU, because the defense can’t possibly keep the Sooners’ offense in check for four quarters. I don’t think anyone can.
4. TCU Horned Frogs (Last week: 5)
A win is a win. Had TCU suffered three losses before the end of September, which would have matched their loss total for all of 2017, there would have been quite a slew of disappointed and frustrated TCU fans. Shawn Robinson is still making too many mistakes for a guy who has the luxury of having one of the best defense in the Big 12 on his side. He doesn’t need to try and overdo it, which seems to be the case sometimes. Speaking of that defense, it held Iowa State to under 200 total yards of offense. But until the offense starts finding more of a rhythm, this team will have a tough time competing with the top teams in the conference. To their credit, TCU has faced two of the better defenses in the conference thus far in Iowa State and Texas.
5. Texas Tech Red Raiders (Last week: 4)
It was a tale of two games for the Red Raiders on Saturday. They were down 35-10 at halftime, but came roaring back behind Jett Duffey, who threw for 172 yards and rushed for 86. But the bad news is that Alan Bowman suffered a collapsed lung in the loss and his timetable to return is not yet known. The Texas Tech defense, which gave up 28 points in the first quarter to Will Grier and Company, pitched a shut out in the second half. The Red Raiders did not in any way give up on Kliff Kingsbury, which is a huge positive for a coach who is on the hot seat and trying to give his bosses every reason to justify keeping him in charge of the program.
6. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Last week: 7)
The Cowboys move up a spot after thrashing Kansas and realizing that using Justice Hill for more than 15 carries per game is probably a solid way to win a lot of football games. But as is the case for every team that plays Kansas, it’s difficult to assess if problems have been fixed or if they were just masked due to the fact that Kansas is simply not a very good football team. Taylor Cornelius settled back in at QB, but still missed some deep shots down the field. Otherwise, it was a good weekend for Mike Gundy and takes some of the heat off of a turbulent last week. Now, they have to face Iowa State at home next week, a Cyclones team desperate for a win.
7. Iowa State Cyclones (Last week: 6)
The Cyclones fell one spot in the rankings this week. Despite the fact that we believe Iowa State is still a good team, they just haven’t been able to rack up any wins. Sure, games against Iowa, Oklahoma and TCU, with two of those three on the road, are far from easy. But eventually, you need to find a way to win these games. The offense has been the problem so far. Back up QB Zeb Noland has had his moments, but he really struggled against TCU on Saturday night. Noland’s pass efficiency is currently ranked third-worst in the Big 12 Conference. Get the offense going and the Cyclones can be dangerous.
8. Baylor Bears (Last week: 6)
Baylor beat up on Kansas last week, but then came crashing back down to earth this past weekend in Norman. The ran into the Sooners at a bad time, one week after they were taken to overtime by Army. It all started off on the wrong note when Baylor muffed a punt and OU jumped out to an early lead it never relinquished. Baylor’s offense did play a solid game on Saturday against OU, but it didn’t matter because the defense could not get a stop. The Bears gave up over 600 yards of offense, 38 points in the second half alone, and Kyler Murray accounted for seven touchdowns. The good news is Baylor hosts an offensively-inept team this weekend in Kansas State.
9. Kansas State Wildcats (Last week: 8)
If you want to be optimistic as a Wildcats fans, you can look to the second half of this game when KSU outscored Texas 14-0. But that is even dampened by Bill Snyder’s postgame comments saying he doesn’t regret not turning to Skylar Thompson at quarterback earlier, despite the fact that Thompson led the team on a pair of 70+ yard touchdown drives, while Alex Delton finished 3 of 17 for 14 passing yards and 27 rushing yards. It’s starting to get annoyingly stubborn from Snyder. But Kansas State’s defense did play much improved against Texas, only allowing 10 points on the day. But this team is still struggling near the bottom of the Big 12 Conference, and if it can’t beat Baylor this weekend, then KSU might be looking at a 3 or 4-win season.
10. Kansas Jayhawks (Last week: 10)
That Rutgers game feels like a lifetime ago, huh? To David Beaty’s credit, this team is not getting outplayed or beaten as badly as last season. But should we be rewarding a coach for only losing a game by 20 points, which KU has done over the past two weeks? That still seems bizarre in Year 4 of a rebuild, especially considering the heavy presence of seniors on this roster. Watch KU for Pooka Williams and Joe Dineen, but after that, there’s not a ton of reason to see what’s happening for the Jayhawks.
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