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: 1)
No debating here. The Sooners went into a very tough road environment, a night game in Lubbock, and beat Texas Tech despite some early turnovers. Kyler Murray had the toughest start to a game he’s had this season, but settled in nicely. OU rushed for 323 yards in the win and continues to be the Big 12’s best chance to make the College Football Playoff this season. The Sooners defense took a step back last week after looking improved against TCU and Kansas State, but the team was also missing Brendan Radley-Hiles and Kahlil Haughton, two of their starters in the secondary. Let’s see how the unit looks in Bedlam this week.
2. Iowa State Cyclones (Last Week: 2)
Hakeem Butler is a MAN! I don’t know if he’s NFL ready, but I sure hope we get one more season out of him in Ames, because he is a special young man to watch every week, especially since he just keeps getting better. He finished with five catches for 164 yards in the Cyclones’ 27-3 win over Kansas. The connection with Brock Purdy is building by the week as well. Then you have Iowa State’s defense, which is undoubtedly the best in the Big 12 Conference. Jon Heacock should be named Big 12 assistant of the year, which I don’t think believe is even a real award. But it should be one, and Heacock should be the winner. In fact, he should be the Broyles Award winner, which is the national assistant of the year.
3. West Virginia Mountaineers (Last Week: 3)
I was at this game on Saturday in Austin. What a scene. I wrote about my entire weekend, which you can read about here. Dana Holgorsen going for two? Talk about balls. I admittedly did not like it at the time, but Dana proved me wrong as West Virginia puts itself in solid position to make the Big 12 Championship Game next month and still has a chance, albeit a small one, at making the CFB Playoff. The offense has rebounded from its dismal performance against Iowa State, with two straight games of 40+ points.
4. Texas Tech Red Raiders (Last Week: 5)
Tech did not budge off of its No. 4 spot, because the HCS staff felt that with two losses in a row, they were right in the game against No. 1 and No. 2 in our Power Rankings. Tech had a great chance late to beat Iowa State before the safety by Alan Bowman and then if Bowman doesn’t get injured against Oklahoma, how does that game turn out differently? Maybe they lose it, but the fact that we are having this conversation about Tech is impressive. But the re-injuring of the collapsed lung of Bowman is very concerning and deserves monitoring moving forward.
5. Texas Longhorns (Last Week: 4)
The Longhorns have lost two in a row and their chances of the Big 12 Championship have gone up in smoke. It was a tough loss on Saturday to West Virginia and was certainly a game they could have won, but the Longhorns have had an issue with their defense the past two weeks. WVU has an explosive offense, but Texas gave up nearly 600 yards. That’s not what we’re used to seeing from Todd Orlando and Texas isn’t a team that wants to or is built to play from behind. It’s another tough test for Texas this week on the road against Texas Tech.
6. Baylor Bears (Last Week: 7)
The Bears are quietly sitting at 3-3 in the Big 12 and 5-4 overall, one win away from a bowl game. It took a last-second score to beat Oklahoma State, but considering this was a one-win team a year ago and is still very young, all Baylor fans should be very encouraged by what is happening in Waco and how quickly it is happening. This team was decimated by the sexual assault scandal and the improvement this year has been very impressive. Baylor needs to win one of its three remaining games against Iowa State, TCU or Texas Tech to reach bowl eligibility, which would be enormous for this young team to get another 3+ weeks of practice.
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Last Week: 6)
The Jekyll and Hyde season for Mike Gundy’s Cowboys continues. A loss to Kansas State by 19, followed up by a win over No. 6 Texas, and then a loss to Baylor on the road. Go figure! Well that’s the thing: You can’t figure out this 2018 Oklahoma State team. It hasn’t made much sense. Now, the Pokes have two brutal games coming up in Norman against Oklahoma and at home against West Virginia, before the season wraps up in Fort Worth against the Horned Frogs. Based on how the season has gone, Oklahoma State shocks OU, comes up a field goal short against West Virginia, and then loses by 30 to TCU.
8. TCU Horned Frogs (Last Week: 10)
Here they are, the Horned Frogs are still near the bottom of the Power Rankings after eking out a home win over Kansas State on Saturday. But the Horned Frogs were never going to sit in the basement of our Power Rankings for that long. It just doesn’t seem right for a Gary Patterson led program. However, TCU is still not a very good team this season. The defense is average, which isn’t TCU standards, and the offense has become anemic. It is likely to just be one of those rebuilding years in Fort Worth, with the program back on track next fall.
9. Kansas State Wildcats (Last Week: 8)
Kansas State is still right near the bottom of the rankings after the aforementioned loss to TCU last week. The Wildcats are a mess, with Bill Snyder calling out individual players over units and coaches, and the uncertainty over the future of the program is still very real. As many have pointed out on Twitter, imagine how amazing the scene would be at Bill Snyder Family Stadium these next couple of weeks if Snyder announced he was going to retire after the season? It would be incredible. Instead their is the awkward, “What’s next?” mentality that is lingering across Manhattan.
10. Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: 9)
Well, one week after beating TCU, Kansas got blown out by Iowa State. Then on Sunday, Jeff Long put an end to the current regime by firing David Beaty, who will finish the rest of the season as the head coach. It was time. Beaty had not shown enough improvement on the field for a team that was built mostly around seniors. If this was as good as it was going to get, what was going to happen next year in a rebuild? David Beaty seems like a great guy, and he handled Monday’s Big 12 Teleconference like a pro, but it’s difficult to justify keeping him four years in.
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