Ah yes, it’s that time of year when the Big 12 Football Power Rankings return to Heartland College Sports. A reminder that these can flux drastically from week to week. These are not supposed to be a mirror image of that week’s standings. It’s based on the previous week’s performance and the opponent when compared to the rest of the conference. So with Week 1 in the books, let’s get into this week’s Big 12 Power Rankings.
1. Oklahoma Sooners
Well, the offense was everything we expected with Jalen Hurts just taking the mantle from Kyler Murray and continuing what has become an incredible trend at this position in Norman. Plus, the plethora of talent at the skill positions is unbelievable and the offensive line, which was replacing four starters from last year, had some youthful mistakes at times, but looks like it will be more than capable of handling the load. However, it’s the defense under Alex Grinch which was the star of the show. Sure, it’s an AAC opponent in Houston, but considering the offensive weapons, along with Dana Holgorsen now in charge, the Sooners defense had some swagger that we haven’t seen from that side of the ball in years. It’s early, and this unit has been such a hot mess (at least relative to the offense), for so long, but cautious optimism seems to be the best approach.
2. Texas Longhorns
Texas finally won a season opener under Tom Herman! I kid, sort of. But it was nice for Texas to blow out an opponent. For all of Herman’s early success in Austin, they seem to play up or down to completion. That wasn’t the case on Saturday, blasting Louisiana Tech and showing off a defense that may not miss the eight starters it has to replace, an offense led by one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Sam Ehlinger, and offensive weapons starting to emerge, like Brennan Eagles. It’s only Week 1, but it certainly looks like there is quite a gap between the top two and the rest of the conference.
3. Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Pokes rolled out Spencer Sanders at QB and he certainly appears to have the potential that OSU fans have been looking to see since he came to campus as part of the Class of 2018. Once Sanders got going he looked comfortable in Mike Gundy’s offense and certainly adds a nice layer with a running game Gundy typically hasn’t had under his best quarterbacks like Brandon Weeden and Mason Rudolph. If Sanders can develop a deep ball similar to those two and then have the wheels he flashed at Oregon State, watch out. The defense is still a work in progress, but OSU went on the road and picked up a convincing Power 5 win. That propels them to the No. 3 spot this week.
4. Baylor Bears
Baylor also did what it was supposed to do and that’s blast Stephen F. Austin. The Bears showed off their depth at wide receiver with 10 players catching a pass and Charlie Brewer finished an efficient game with three touchdowns to zero interceptions. Baylor’s defense handled an average FCS opponent with ease, but it’s tough to judge just how much improved this unit is, considering the team it faced.
5. Kansas State Wildcats
Can you ask for a better start to the Chris Klieman era? Skylar Thompson is sitting around saying, “Bill Sny… who?” He’s as comfortable as he’s ever been in Manhattan and that’s exactly what this program needs right now. Considering the question marks heading into the season, the running game led by Ball State transfer James Gilbert was very solid and the defense pitched a first-half shut out, going interception, punt, punt, punt, with each drive going five plays or less.
6. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Yes, it was Montana State, but the Red Raiders did what they had to do in Matt Wells’ debut and that’s absolutely dominate both sides of the ball. Alan Bowman is a stud and gunslinger who should be a household name to college football fans by mid-season. He remains a nice parting gift from Kliff Kingsbury, leading the way with 436 passing yards on 40/55 passing. Jordyn Brooks and Riko Jeffers are a very underrated 1-2 punch at linebacker. Let’s see what Tech does the next two weeks vs. UTEP and Arizona. This may be a team many of us did, but should not have, overlooked in the offseason.
7. Iowa State Cyclones
Wow, talk about avoiding disaster. That’s exactly what Iowa State did on Saturday needing multiple overtimes to beat… Northern Iowa. The offensive line was getting pushed around, the game plan was vanilla (which is fine if the game is going as planned), and if not for Brock Purdy’s fumble recover on the last possession, Iowa State is 0-1 heading into a bye week before playing Iowa. Campbell should have a field day going over the tape with his guys. Onto Cy-Hawk.
8. TCU Horned Frogs
Well, the quarterback race may not be any clearer after Alex Delton and Max Duggan each played and had their good moments and not-so-good moments. This position will define whether or not this is another .500-ish season or a season that can see nine or ten wins. There were several fumbles as well, and three on special teams by Jalen Reagor, which isn’t too concerning, but you never like to see, even in a season opener. As expected, TCU’s defense was steady with two interceptions and 11 punts.
9. West Virginia Mountaineers
The Mountaineers started sluggish against the No. 1 FCS program in the country in James Madison, but it was a tale of two halves as quarterback Austin Kendall settled in nicely, got comfortable and played some solid ball, throwing both touchdowns in the second half and WVU scored 17 of its 20 points in the final thirty minutes for a 20-13 win. However the Mountaineers were still outgained in this game and the running game, expected to be a strength, averaged a meager 1.4 yards per carry. There’s still plenty of work to do in Morgantown.
10. Kansas Jayhawks
Well hey, the Jayhawks are 1-0 under Les Miles, and for that they deserve credit, especially considering they were without their best player, running back Pooka Williams, in the opener. Also, KU was trailing late in the fourth quarter, but came back in impressive fashion thanks to some big plays by receiver Daylon Charlot, who KU fans have been waiting to step up and be the stud recruit he was when he went to Alabama four years ago. If he can become a top target and WR in the Big 12, this offense may have a chance to put up some points throughout the season. But for now, KU is still in the basement, as a comeback win against Indiana State is still, well, a comeback win against Indiana State.
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