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 13 in the books, let’s get into this week’s Big 12 Power Rankings.
1. Oklahoma Sooners (Last Week: 1)
The Sooners received all No. 1 or No. 2 votes from the HCS staff this week after avoiding a comeback by TCU on Saturday night. OU jumped out to a 21-0 lead before TCU came storming back to make it a game late. Yes, the 3rd and 1 call that gave OU a first down on their final possession was wrong, but there’s little guarantee the TCU offense was going to storm down the field and score. OU’s defense held them in check all night. But Jalen Hurts still needs to clean up the turnovers and it’s concerning how this team goes from looking like a College Football Playoff team to a middle-of-the-pack Big 12 team within the same game. There is still work to be done the next two weeks.
2. Baylor Bears (Last Week: 3)
The Bears clinched their first-ever berth to a Big 12 title game (since when they won the Big 12 under Art Briles there was no Big 12 title game). Baylor’s defense swarmed the Texas Longhorns on Saturday, essentially holding them to three points before a late garbage time touchdown. Charlie Brewer left the game late after taking a big hit, so there is reason to be concerned about him moving forward. But this team is in Year 3 under Matt Rhule and will be playing for a conference championship in two weeks. Raise your hand if you predicted this? I didn’t.
3. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Last Week: 2)
The Pokes are steady in the No. 3 post after going to Morgantown and escaping with a win over a pesky West Virginia team. Also, OSU was rolling with its back up quarterback Dru Brown after Spencer Sanders went down for the rest of the season with a thumb injury. Chuba Hubbard continues to prove he’s the best offensive weapon in the league and the defense for the Pokes keeps stepping up. Mike Gundy has completely turned this season around as they’ll be ranked in the Top 25 again this week and have a chance to end OU’s Playoff chances on Saturday.
4. Iowa State Cyclones (Last Week: 4)
Iowa State was the only team every HCS voter could agree on. We all had them in the No. 4 spot this week after they slid by Kansas on Saturday in Ames. It wasn’t always pretty, but Matt Campbell sent his seniors out with a victory and that’s likely to keep ISU ranked in the Top 25 come Tuesday night, which is not just important for Iowa State fans, but for the rest of the Big 12, who want to have several ranked teams going into Selection Sunday, if it were to come down to that. I’m not overly concerned with some of the issues from Saturday. After beating Texas last week with K-State on deck, this was the perfect trap game against an improving KU program. There’s no reason to look at it as anything more than that at this point.
5. Kansas State Wildcats (Last Week: 8)
This is where it starts to get hairy in the eyes of HCS voters. K-State received votes of five, six and seven. They were able to edge out for No. 5 after going on the road and beating Texas Tech on Saturday night. K-State needed special teams help to get it done as the offense and defense had it’s ups and downs, but Chris Klieman’s team ultimately got a conference road win, even if it’s against a current Big 12 bottomfeeder. They also snapped a two-game losing streak. The running game remains inconsistent, which is going to be even more difficult to get going this week against Iowa State, who ranks near the top of the Big 12 in that category.
6. TCU Horned Frogs (Last Week: 5)
The Horned Frogs played another close game that they ended up on the wrong side of. Their last four losses to Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Oklahoma have all been by seven points or less. Frustration is natural for TCU fans right now, but from a big-picture perspective, TCU has done all this working in a true freshman quarterback and those games could have gone either way. Now the Horned Frogs just need to become bowl eligible on Saturday against West Virginia, which would give this young team some much-needed extra practice time as they start gearing up for 2020 and what could be a big-time bounce back year for Gary Patterson’s program.
7. Texas Longhorns (Last Week: 6)
As for teams that were hotly debated in this week’s rankings, Texas was ranked as high as six and as low as nine by the HCS voters. Saturday was certainly not a good showing for Texas on the road against Baylor and was a sign of two teams trending in different directions. Baylor clinched a Big 12 Championship Game berth, while Texas is one loss away from falling to 6-6 a year after reaching the Big 12 Title game themselves. Tom Herman looked shell-shocked after the loss and was almost without words. Herman isn’t going anywhere as he recently got a big extension, but clearly this program needs a little shake up in the offseason.
8. West Virginia Mountaineers (Last Week: 7)
One week after beating Kansas State on the road, the Mountaineers nearly pulled it off again against Oklahoma State. The defense remains one of the most underappreciated units in the Big 12 this season and Neal Brown, as he noted in the Big 12 teleconference Monday morning, has a ton of his guys coming back the next two years. But the running game is still anemic, averaging 1.2 yards per carry on Saturday against Oklahoma State and Jarret Doege was not as productive as the week prior in the win over Kansas State. But let’s see if this team can end the season on a high note against TCU.
9. Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: 10)
After two stinkers in a row, the Jayhawks put together an impressive performance on the road against an Iowa State team that is a couple of bounces away from being in the conversation for a Big 12 Championship Game appearance. KU’s offense put up 31 points as Brent Dearmon’s magic is back after a couple of disappointments the last two times out. It’s KU’s defense that remains its biggest Achilles heel. However, you’re definitely seeing the strides you’d like to see if you’re a Kansas football fan.
10. Texas Tech Red Raiders (Last Week: 9)
The Red Raiders just missed out on the No. 9 spot by a single point, getting edged out by Kansas, who also put up a good fight, but against a better team than Tech. Plus, KU did it on the road, while Texas Tech was at home. The frustrations in Lubbock are understandable, but this is another team with several close losses this season. Their last three have been by a field goal or less and the last five have been by ten or less.
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