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 change drastically from week to week, as they do not mirror preseason predictions or expected outcomes, but rather the most recent games that have been played and how they have been played. These are not supposed to be a mirror image of a given week’s standings.
So with Week 1 of the Big 12 football season in the books, here are our Week 2 Big 12 Football Power Rankings.
1. Texas Longhorns (Last Week: 4)
The Longhorns had a Top 25 match up on their hands and with a new head coach, new system, new redshirt freshman QB in Hudson Card, and they comfortably rolled over Louisiana by 20 points. Bijan Robinson piled up over 170 yards on the ground and through the air, while Card looked impressive in his first start. The defense also played very well. Most importantly, Texas was the more talented team and didn’t play down to competition which happened too often under Tom Herman.
2. Kansas State (Last Week: 6)
The Cats could’ve thrown a shutout against Stanford if they wanted to, but The Cardinal got a garbage time touchdown as K-State rolled to a 24-7 win in Arlington, TX. A healthy Skylar Thompson with Deuce Vaughn, an improved offensive line, and a defense that may be better than anticipated could mean the Cats will exceed expectations in the Big 12 this fall (which is nothing new for the KSU faithful). And this wasn’t just any non-conference win for Kansas State, it was an important win for the “Other 8” in the Big 12 Conference.
3. Texas Tech Red Raiders (Last Week: 9)
The Red Raiders were in an early 14-0 hole to Houston and didn’t get the ball until a couple minutes to go in the first quarter. In recent seasons, this would’ve meant a long evening for Tech fans. Enter: Tyler Shough. The Oregon transfer gives Texas Tech fans hope that they can dig out of these double-digit deficits in a way they haven’t been able to since the Patrick Mahomes era (who was at the game). The Tech defense also was sneaky good and got better as the game went on, not allowing a single second-half point. Oh, and this win over Houston was over a likely future conference foe.
4. TCU Horned Frogs (Last Week: 3)
Hey, it was Duquesne, but you couldn’t ask for a better start for Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs in a 45-3 win. It might seem wrong to move TCU down from last week, but the three teams above them were much more impressive in their victory simply based on their opponents. Cal and SMU in their next two games will be much more telling in terms of where this program is going to be in 2021, but with so many FCS teams beating or scaring FBS teams this weekend, that was not an issue in Fort Worth.
5. Oklahoma Sooners (Last Week: 1)
Well, the Sooners won the game, but there were clear lapses in attention during this game. They trailed early 14-7, then led 37-14, before hanging on for a 40-35 win. The defense, which many of us have hyped up this offseason, looked like the old OU defense at times, with bursts of excellence as well. Spencer Rattler threw a couple of interceptions in the game as well to get his Heisman contention off to a bit of a rocky start. This team is still the favorite in the Big 12, but it was far from a complete performance as a 32-point favorite.
6. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Last Week: 4)
Oklahoma State was without starting QB Spencer Sanders due to COVID-19 protocols, and while things went fine the first half for Shane Illingworth and Co., the second half was as forgettable a 30 minutes of football as OSU fans have seen in a while. The 1.9 yards per rush are a huge concern to start the season, as the offensive line continues to be an issue for Mike Gundy’s program. The Pokes now take on Tulsa and Boise State the next two games, which will tell us a lot about what exactly this team will be capable of in the Big 12 in 2021.
7. Baylor Bears (Last Week: 8)
A win is a win, right? It wasn’t pretty against Texas State, but hey, if you’re Dave Aranda with a new starting QB coming off a 2-7 season, you take it and run back to the film room to build on it for next week. The Bears need to be more consistent on both sides of the ball, and while the ceiling for this team still could be above many people’s expectations, grinding out a win over Texas State also shows that there is a ways to go to get to that ceiling, whatever it may end up being.
8. Iowa State Cyclones (Last Week: 2)
Death, taxes and slow starts for Matt Campbell’s Cyclones. It’s literally the only critique one can find with this program, but I’m sure Iowa State fans would love nothing more than to not have to sweat out Week 1 games against inferior opponents year and year. Was it vanilla ahead of Iowa? Yes. And yes, Charlie Kolar was missing, but still, it’s Northern Iowa against a Top 10 team. The offense was more concerning than the defense, but a win over Iowa this week, with College GameDay in town will quickly make this Week 1 performance forgettable. However, if the slow start continues against Iowa, the conversation will be a different one for a team with hopes of a College Football Playoff.
9. West Virginia Mountaineers (Last Week: 9)
Yes, they played a solid enough Power 5 program in Maryland, however losing the turnover battle 4-0 and watching this offense labor again under Jarret Doege has got to be incredibly frustrating for WVU fans. Also this year’s defense is not going to be 2020’s. There are just too many pieces missing. It can still be a top-half-of-the-Big-12 defense, but it won’t be one of the best in the nation, which means the offense needs to find its groove or Year 3 under Neal Brown won’t only fail to be a step forward, it may end up being a step back.
10. Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: 10)
Yes, they won a football game for the first time in 677 days, but I don’t think you can look much worse in a win over an FCS program than what Kansas did against South Dakota on Friday night. Understandably KU fans should not care, and neither should Lance Leipold, but I’m giving WVU the nod for the No. 9 spot, given their loss was to a Power 5 program on the road. But if KU competes with Coastal Carolina on Friday, then Leipold and Co. could be in the business of starting to turn some heads.