For the first time in the 2022 season, the entire Big 12 conference will be active and battling against one another. This week will create some separation among the conference, which to this point has looked like the toughest in the country.
This should make for one of the best weekends of football that we are treated to this season for a couple of reasons. First of all, every team in the Big 12 has a legitimate chance of making it to the Big 12 championship at this point in the season. There are several great teams in the group right now, but not one of them has proven to be head and shoulders above the rest of the league. Secondly, the fact that teams like Kansas, TCU, and Texas Tech are on the rise makes each and every week a dogfight. There are no gimmes in the Big 12 this season, and that makes for entertaining football week-in and week-out.
All five games have an argument to be the top game of the week, but there can only be one. Here is how I rank the games, from worst to best, as we start to find out more about the conference hierarchy.
When splitting hairs to decide how to rank each game this week, West Virginia vs. Texas easily falls to the bottom of the list for me. Both teams come into this game with a 2-2 record, which is a share of the worst records in the conference as no other team in the league enters Week 5 with more than one loss. The best thing that will come out of this game is deciding who should fit firmly into the bottom spot of next week’s power rankings as the loser of this game will be the only team in the conference with a losing record through five weeks. Now, I expect this game to be competitive, despite Texas being a double-digit favorite, and if they find a way to lose this game at home, we could see the Longhorns start to spiral yet again.
The Sooners lost in shocking fashion last weekend as the defense that was being heralded as much improved vanished and the Oklahoma defense of old showed up. After a poor tackling performance and seeming out of sorts for the majority of the game, Oklahoma gave up 41 points and nearly 400 yards to Adrian Martinez and K-State. On the flip side of this game, the TCU Horned Frogs are coming off a big win over SMU in the Battle for the Iron Skillet. TCU’s offense has looked potent through three games, albeit against three bad defenses. To this point, TCU has been so mysterious, but we will find out this weekend if they’re a legitimate Big 12 contender, or not.
This is the point at which ranking the games got difficult for me. Iowa State lost a close one to Baylor last week in Ames, while Kansas, college football’s sweetheart, piled up their fourth win of the year. The four-win total is more than Kansas has had since 2009, but getting to 5-0 would almost certainly break them into the Top 25. However, that will be easier said than done, as Hunter Dekkers and Xavier Hutchinson will provide the stiffest test that Kansas’ questionable defense has seen to this point. Can Jalon Daniels score enough points to get Kansas back in the win column again? We will see.
As this week’s lone meeting of 1-0 teams in Big 12 play, I was tempted to put Texas Tech vs. Kansas State at No. 1. However, Kansas State’s loss against Tulane kept me from doing so. Yes, K-State did lose a game two weekends ago, if you don’t remember. Both teams scored massive victories last week though, and that is good enough to send them here in my rankings. The biggest concern for me in this game is whether Texas Tech’s offensive line can handle what K-State’s defensive line throws at them. The Wildcat’s front-seven is good, and will be a huge test for Joey McGuire’s squad.
Could you really put any other game here? The 2021 Big 12 Championship rematch in Waco has been much-anticipated through the offseason and would likely be the site of College Gameday had Baylor not dropped a tough game at BYU in Week 2. Nonetheless, Spencer Sanders and the Cowboys come into Waco with one of the top offensive attacks in the country, while Baylor showed to be rounding into form last week in Ames. Sanders has struggled mightily against the Bears in recent memory, with a 1:7 TD-to-Interception ratio against them last year. He will need to play a much cleaner game tomorrow if the Pokes hope to leave with a W.