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 11 in the books, let’s get into this week’s Big 12 Power Rankings.
1. Baylor Bears (Last Week: 1)
Well, the Bears don’t always make it look pretty, but they continue to win, improving to 9-0 after beating TCU in triple overtime on Saturday afternoon in Fort Worth. The Bears didn’t play their best game in this one, but like so many others this season, they did enough to win. A lot of the credit can go to a defense that held TCU to field goals in regulation and that included keeping the Horned Frogs scoreless in the second half. Baylor is now 9-0, likely headed for a top ten ranking and has College GameDay coming to Waco for the first time since 2015 ahead of Saturday’s huge showdown against Oklahoma.
2. Oklahoma Sooners (Last Week: 3)
The Sooners dodged a bullet on Saturday night in front of a more-than-half empty Memorial Stadium as the Iowa State Cyclones came storming back and were a two-point conversion away from crushing OU’s hopes of making a College Football Playoff and putting their Big 12 Championship streak in jeopardy. The defense is better but still inconsistent and, at times, Jalen Hurts does not appear to be progressing enough as a quarterback. But the Sooners are still the favorites to win this conference, until proven otherwise.
3. Texas Longhorns (Last Week: 7)
To Texas’ credit, the season was about to unravel as they were trailing Kansas State 14-0 in the first quarter on Saturday. But the Longhorns would go on to win the game 27-24 and keep their hopes alive for a Big 12 Championship appearance. The defense is starting to get healthy and it showed on Saturday, holding Kansas State to 2.0 yards per carry. However, the Longhorns remain fairly inconsistent and they’ll need to remain focused with two huge games on the schedule against Iowa State this weekend and Baylor the following Saturday.
4. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Last Week: 4)
The Pokes had a bye week this past weekend, but are coming off two-straight wins at Iowa State and home vs. TCU. Now, it’s the Kansas Jayhawks this weekend, who should not be taken as lightly as they have been for most of the past decade. The Pokes then go to West Virginia, another bottom feeder in the conference, before wrapping up the regular season with Bedlam. What looked like it might be a season spiraling out of control, now looks like an eight-win campaign for Mike Gundy with a freshman quarterback. Not too shabby.
5. Iowa State Cyclones (Last Week: 5)
5-4. Not what any Iowa State fan expected at this point in the season. But those four losses are by a combined 11 points. On Saturday, the Cyclones came from 21 points down and were a two-point conversion away from beating OU. Instead, it was just another close loss, which they’ve had all season against the likes of Iowa, Baylor, Oklahoma State and now Oklahoma. Brock Purdy is quickly turning into one of the best QBs in the Big 12, and Breece Hall is the next stud RB, while the defense remains stout, but it’s just not translating into as many wins as Cyclones fans expected in 2019.
6. Kansas State Wildcats (Last Week: 2)
The Wildcats winning streak came to an end at Texas this past weekend, but they proved they will not be an easy out down the stretch. To think that this team was picked 9th in the Big 12 Preseason Poll seems silly now. They play great defense, while the offense, which didn’t have its usual power running game work this week, seems to have new wrinkles every game. Chris Klieman is still up for Big 12 Coach of the Year (although Matt Rhule is admittedly the front runner) and has proven to be the exact hire that Kansas State needed to make in the wake of Bill Snyder’s retirement.
7. TCU Horned Frogs (Last Week: 6)
Gary Patterson put it best last week, saying that this team, “can beat anyone in the league or lose to anyone in the league.” That is a spot on analysis of this team. They nearly pulled off the upset against Baylor this past weekend. Max Duggan made some great plays at quarterback, but then also had the true freshman moments that have hampered him throughout the season. TCU is close, and the growing pains this year could pay major dividends in 2020. But for now, if this team can get extra practice during bowl season, it will be a success and something for Gary Patterson’s guys to build on.
8. Texas Tech Red Raiders (Last Week: 10)
The Red Raiders came out with a point to prove and they did just that, scoring touchdowns on their first five drives on Saturday at West Virginia to blow out the Mountaineers. Matt Wells has been getting some pushback from antsy fans in Lubbock, which frankly hasn’t been fair, but hopefully Wells calmed down some of those folks after Saturday’s performance. Tech still has a ways to go as a program, but if they can win two of their final three against TCU, Kansas State and Texas, they’ll get that all-important bowl game which will give this team the necessary extra practice time it needs.
9. Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: 9)
The Jayhawks are no longer the doormat of a program they’ve been for 10 years. KU did get smoked by Kansas State last week, but they had a bye week to try and get some things squared away. And with Brent Dearmon’s offense, but a defense that has been pretty solid at times, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Baylor should not overlook KU down the stretch and assume it’s a given “W”. Just ask Texas Tech about that.
10. West Virginia Mountaineers (Last Week: 8)
The Mountaineers are struggling. WVU fans knew this was coming, but it may even be worse than expected. However, new head coach Neal Brown is continuing to tell the fans, as he did after Saturday’s loss, that this university will eventually have a football team to match this fan base. But I believe that to be the case, but the growing pains will be there. The Mountaineers now a quarterback battle on their hands with Austin Kendall being replaced by Jarret Doege. Let’s see who gets the start the rest of the way.
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