With another week of Big 12 play in the books, we’ve seen more of what each team is all about and how well they’re being coached. The star of the show, as I’m sure no one is now surprised, is Dave Aranda, but there are some great coaching jobs being done in the great state of Oklahoma as well.
Here’s a power ranking of how the Big 12’s coaches have done so far this season. Let me know if you agree or disagree!
1. DAVE ARANDA, BAYLOR (LAST WEEK: 1)
The Bears are bowl eligible at 6-1, 3-1, and are officially dark horse candidates for the Big 12 title game. You better believe that Baylor will be rooting for Iowa State this Saturday as the Bears hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against Baylor but do not have the same advantage against Oklahoma State.
That said, who could argue against Aranda taking the top spot here? Few thought that Baylor would even reach a bowl game this season. Just seven games into their schedule, and a bowl game is already small potatoes for the Bears.
2. MIKE GUNDY, OKLAHOMA STATE (LAST WEEK: 3)
The Cowboys are undefeated after a come-from-behind win in Austin last Saturday. Now, at 6-0, 3-0, and with wins against 6-1 Baylor and 4-2 Texas, Oklahoma State is surely thinking about a Big 12 Championship and possibly a playoff berth.
The 8th ranked Cowboys are stunningly seven-point underdogs heading to this week’s game against Iowa State in Ames, and Bedlam looms down the road, but for now, Gundy has his team playing at a high level and finding ways to win.
3. LINCOLN RILEY, OKLAHOMA (LAST WEEK: 2)
Riley seems to have found yet another stud at quarterback in Caleb Williams, and the offense has roared to life. The offensive line is just plain nasty, and at 7-0, 4-0 and heading into the layup at Kansas, the Sooners are poised to finish the season rolling downhill – but Iowa State and Bedlam are on the horizon.
We knew that Oklahoma would be deadly this season, but credit Riley for getting his team through a lackluster start to the season during which the Sooners looked vulnerable. As Oklahoma gains momentum, Riley could be putting together his best season yet in Norman.
4. MATT CAMPBELL, IOWA STATE (LAST WEEK: 7)
The Cyclones’ best win so far this season is their latest at Kansas State, but the team seems to be hitting its stride and could be peaking at just the right time. At 4-2, 2-1, Iowa State has life in the chase for a spot in the Big 12 Championship, and a win this Saturday against Oklahoma State would put the Cyclones in a three-way tie for second place in the league.
Credit Campbell for getting his team through the slow start and for notching the Cyclones’ first win in Manhattan since 2004. The Cyclones’ schedule has a lot of meat left on the bone, but ISU fans have to feel good about how Campbell has the team playing.
5. MATT WELLS, TEXAS TECH (LAST WEEK: 5)
The Red Raiders are 5-2, 2-2, and hoping to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2017 this Saturday when they host Kansas State. It’s been a season with a couple of major bumps in the road as Tech’s defense struggled to keep up with two of the better offenses in the league, but Wells has kept his team on track by winning the games they were supposed to win and even stealing one they weren’t at West Virginia.
However, the game against K-State this Saturday could be pivotal as the schedule only gets more difficult down the road. If Tech can knock off the Cats on Saturday, every win from there on will be gravy.
6. STEVE SARKISIAN, TEXAS (LAST WEEK: 4)
Another week, another 4th quarter meltdown against a team from Oklahoma. The Longhorns are playing fantastic offense behind QB Casey Thompson and RB Bijan Robinson, but the defense is holding the team back from being a factor in the Big 12 championship race.
At 4-3, 2-2, with a new starting quarterback and the headaches of installing new systems and terminology, Sarkisian has his offense playing well enough to scare any opponent. However, after dropping two straight, the Longhorns will need to find some answers on defense during this bye week or the two-game losing streak could quickly become four with games at Baylor and at Iowa State up next.
7. GARY PATTERSON, TCU (LAST WEEK: 8)
With a 3-3, 1-2 record, the Horned Frogs are not close to where they hoped to be at this point in the season. Worse, the reason they’re so far down in the standings is their defense, and who would have ever guessed that?
The positive is that TCU’s offense is rolling with QB Max Duggan and RB Zach Evans doing everything they can to win games. Credit Patterson for the moves he’s made to improve the offense over the last two seasons. Now, if he could just figure the defense out.
8. CHRIS KLIEMAN, KANSAS STATE (LAST WEEK: 6)
8 is for eight straight Big 12 losses. With K-State at 3-3, 0-3, the only thing that’s keeping Klieman from not being lower in this ranking is that losses at Oklahoma State and versus Oklahoma and Iowa State are understandable. It’s the toughest three-game stretch in conference play that any team in the league has faced so far; however, as mentioned above, Texas is halfway through a four-game stretch that is ultimately tougher.
For K-State, the schedule lightens up some starting this Saturday at Texas Tech. It’s a game that K-State must win in order to have realistic hopes of becoming bowl eligible this season.
9. NEAL BROWN, WEST VIRGINIA (LAST WEEK: 9)
The Mountaineers are 2-4, 0-3, and suddenly seem to be no better than they were when Brown took over the program in 2019. In fact, this seems worse than 2019 because WVU is regressing, particularly when it comes to effort. There just hasn’t been any fire in the team’s play over the last two games.
West Virginia might have the worst offensive line in the league outside of Lawrence, and the Mountaineers are not likely to be favored to win a game until they travel to Lawrence to end the season. A lot can happen between then and now, but a bowl game already seems out of reach. Brown needs to light a fire under his team immediately to save the season.
10. LANCE LEIPOLD, KANSAS (LAST WEEK: 10)
The Jayhawks are improving, or at least I think so. However, after getting swatted by Texas Tech, a team that Les Miles beat in Lawrence and took to the brink in Lubbock, Leipold remains in the cellar.
The good news for the Jayhawks is that two more potentially winnable home games remain on the schedule: vs K-State and vs WVU. I wouldn’t expect KU to win either one, but just keeping one close would look like progress.