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)
The Oklahoma Sooners are back in the Big 12 Championship game after hanging on to beat the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown on Friday. As expected, OU’s offense is its best defense, confirmed with the decision by Lincoln Riley to go for it on 4th and 5 at the end of the game, rather than punt, to seal the win. This defense is suspect, but it did force two fumbles against Will Grier, leading to points each time. With Michigan’s loss to Ohio State, the Sooners are in position to make the College Football Playoff, if they can take care of business against Texas on Saturday.
2. Texas Longhorns (Last Week: 2)
The Longhorns can’t make the College Football Playoff, but they can win their first Big 12 title in nine years on Saturday. Tom Herman’s team is one year ahead of schedule after bringing in one of the top recruiting classes in America this past year, I figured 2019 was the season for them to take the conference title back to Austin. But now, 2019 is probably the year that this team is supposed to compete for a College Football Playoff berth, not just a Big 12 title.
3. Iowa State Cyclones (Last Week: 3)
Iowa State was at one point 1-3 on the season. Down 17 against Bill Snyder and the Wildcats, Matt Campbell’s team scared off the ghosts of Farmageddon’s past and came back to win with 21 unanswered points to end the game and improve to 7-4 on the season. To think that Brock Purdy has at least two more seasons in Ames under Campbell’s tutelage should make all Cyclones fans giddy inside. Last season was not an aberration, this season was not an aberration. For as long as Campbell is running the show, Iowa State will be a force in the Big 12 Conference.
4. West Virginia Mountaineers (Last Week: 4)
The Mountaineers had a “win and in” situation on Friday night and could not get the job done against Oklahoma. Sure the officiating wasn’t great. OU DB Robert Barnes should’ve been ejected from the game and there was the faux penalty on T.J. Simmons on blocking a defender out of bounds. But Will Grier still fumbled twice, as the senior quarterback tried to do two much, each time leading to points for OU. It’s hard to say this season is a success for West Virginia, as the Mountaineers were unable to even reach the Big 12 Championship Game with one of the best quarterbacks, and offenses, in the country.
5. Baylor Bears (Last Week: 9)
From a 1-11 season to bowl eligibility. Is Matt Rhule the Big 12 Coach of the Year? I’d say so. It’s a fairly easy argument to make at this point. And considering how young this team is, the 2019-2020 season are even brighter in Waco. How quickly Rhule has turned around this program should not be overlooked either. We are only 2+ years removed from that scandal rocking the University and decimating the football program. Yet Rhule has them back to relevancy again in a conference that is as tough as any in America to move up in, due to the round robin format. Here’s to hoping Rhule has many years left in Waco.
6. TCU Horned Frogs (Last Week: 7)
What a job by Gary Patterson. TCU was 4-6 heading into tough games as underdogs against Baylor and Oklahoma State. The Horned Frogs ended up winning both games with a third string quarterback and a banged up defense and are now bowl eligible once again. While TCU was in the Big 12 Championship game this time last season, this 2018 campaign may end up being one of Patterson’s best coaching jobs since TCU joined the Big 12 Conference. Now, TCU’s young players, of which 15 true freshmen played this season, get another 3-4 weeks of practice. This is big for 2019.
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Last Week: 5)
What an absolutely bizarre season for Mike Gundy and the Pokes. Wins over Texas and West Virginia, a near miss against Oklahoma, and then loses to Kansas State, Baylor and TCU. What gives? I have no idea what to make of the 2018 season in Stillwater. There was also transfers, weird Gundy rants and media squabbles. Oh, and there was no Spencer Sanders, despite the new redshirt rule. With all that being said, the Cowboys are going to go to a bowl game and any time the young guys can get more reps, the better off they are for spring ball and the following season.
8. Kansas State Wildcats (Last Week: 8)
The Kansas State Wildcats nearly pulled off what seemed unthinkable just a few weeks ago and reach a bowl game. They had a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter against Iowa State and the Cyclones came back with 21 unanswered to win the game and keep the Wildcats out of bowl eligibility. This team definitely got better as the season went on, but there still are plenty of concerns for what the future of the program is under Bill Snyder. What is next for him? He obviously didn’t dive into it after the game, but he made it seem like it would, once again, be his decision, and not a decision made by the hierarchy at Kansas State. We’ll see how true that ends up being.
9. Texas Tech Red Raiders (Last Week: 6)
The Red Raiders closed out the season with a five-game losing streak, capped off Saturday against the Baylor Bears. As a result, Kliff Kingsbury was fired, and while I got a lot of heat for it from Texas Tech fans, I wrote on Saturday about why the move was a big mistake. Regardless, Kirby Hocutt didn’t listen to my last-minute plea, and now he begins his search, which reportedly includes West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. We’ll see what Kirby Hocutt has up his sleeve, but it’s clear that just reaching a bowl game is not going to be enough to satisfy him in Lubbock.
10. Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: 10)
David Beaty nearly pulled off a win over Texas for a second time in three seasons, but he couldn’t close out his career at KU with a win. However this team played hard for him and Beaty handled the firing and the rest of the season with complete class. If you were to grade Beaty on that alone, he’s a Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, he just didn’t win enough games quickly enough. Now, it’s on to Les Miles, who is reportedly already running all over the country trying to recruit for a 2019 class that currently has one single commit. Godspeed, Les. Godspeed.
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