In our 2017 version of the Big 12 power rankings, we have averaged out the rankings of our main contributors at Heartland College Sports. These will be done on a weekly basis and released every Monday morning. A friendly reminder before trolling: Power Rankings can swing drastically week to week and are not simply a ranking based on what we think the best teams are in the conference, but rather based on the games that have been played to date.
1. Oklahoma Sooners (Last week: 1)
The Sooners didn’t make it easy on themselves. In fact, they were trailing winless Baylor in the third quarter. But, OU got the job done and continues its streak of over 700 days without a Big 12 conference loss. Combine that with the Ohio State road win this year and there is little reason to move Oklahoma from the top spot at the moment. The Big 12 remains OU’s conference, until proven otherwise.
2. TCU Horned Frogs (Last week: 3)
Suddenly, the most interesting game in the Big 12, as of Monday, September 24th, isn’t Bedlam, it’s Oklahoma vs. TCU in Norman on November 11th (one week after OU-OSU). The Horned Frogs have looked like one of the best teams in the country thus far, in fact so good, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit has them as one of his best four teams in college football. Gary Patterson said he viewed September as a four-week season. Well, no doubt he aced it. TCU has the best defense and best group of running backs in the Big 12. Darius Anderson went off (160 rushing yards, three TDs) in the absence of Kyle Hicks and quarterback Kenny Hill is finally realizing he doesn’t have to do it all for this team to win games.
3. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Last week: 2)
Some of the shine wore off the Pokes over the weekend. Mike Gundy admitted last week he didn’t know how teams would stop his offense. Well the Horned Frogs found a way, with some assistance to a couple of injuries on the right side of the offensive line. Mason Rudolph still threw for 400 yards, but he had three turnovers to go along with it. Mike Gundy admitted he got outcoached, which he did. Best example: with the Pokes making a comeback down two scores with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, they have a wide receiver throw a pass that gets picked off. All this when you have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation?? I’ll be scratching my head for a while on this one.
4. West Virginia Mountaineers (Last week: 4)
The Mountaineers offense took care of business against the Jayhawks, but the defense left plenty to be desired. Sure there were a handful of injuries, and as defensive coordinator Tony Gibson noted after the game, it was essentially the second-string defense on the field in the second half. But still, giving up over 350 rushing yards to Kansas? It’s just unacceptable and improvements need to be made on this side of the ball for the Mountaineers to have a chance at sniffing double-digit wins again.
5. Texas Tech Red Raiders (Last week: 7)
The Red Raiders continue to rise up our Power Rankings. They’re off to a 3-0 start and the defense is a big reason why. No, that’s not a typo. Against a solid Houston defense, Tech only mustered 27 points on Saturday. In previous seasons, that would mean a double-digit loss. But, no! The defense kept Kyle Allen and company in check and looked pretty respectable. That’s all Tech fans have ever wanted from their defense: respectability. But the test gets much tougher this weekend when Oklahoma State comes to town (off a loss). Yikes.
6. Texas Longhorns (Last week: 5)
The Longhorns were off last week following their overtime defeat at USC. We’ll find out if last week was a fluke and Tom Herman simply got his guys up for a top 5 opponent on the road or if this group is starting to figure things out. Also, watching the quarterback situation between Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger will be fascinating. Is it really still Buechele’s team, as Herman has insisted? Or did the true freshman do enough to take the reins? We’ll find out more on Thursday.
7. Kansas State Wildcats (Last week: 6)
The Wildcats also had an off week to stew after a disappointing performance at Vanderbilt where Bill Snyder’s team struggled with turnovers and penalties, two staples of Snyder-coached teams. Kansas State’s bye week came at the right time to try and straighten out all these issues before Big 12 play kicks off against an improving Baylor Bears squad. We’ll learn plenty about this Kansas State team on Saturday and if they are a Big 12 title contender or possibly a team many of us overestimated before the season.
8. Iowa State Cyclones (Last week: 8)
The Cyclones are also coming off a bye week. Iowa State is much improved and Matt Campbell would love to pull off the upset on primetime this Thursday night, when there is limited competition on television. Remember last season Iowa State led this game 6-3 at the half before the Longhorns scored 24 unanswered in the second half to win 27-6. Iowa State, the coaching staff, players and more are hyping this game up on social media. The atmosphere at Jack Trice should be excellent.
9. Baylor Bears (Last week: 9)
The Bears played their best game of the year in a 49-41 loss to Oklahoma. It was a game they led by three points in the third quarter. Clearly this team is responding to Matt Rhule and quarterback Zach Smith, who replaced Anu Solomon after Week 2. The Bears are getting healthy and the young players are getting their reps. As Rhule pointed out, this team is getting better every week, which is all you can ask for during a rebuild.
10. Kansas Jayhawks (Last week: 10)
Sure, Khalil Herbert rushed for 300 yards, but this team still has a long ways to go. But give credit to offensive coordinator Doug Mecham for having more balance between the pass (his preference) and the run to give this team the best possible chance to win. Unfortunately, the defense is a total mess and could prevent this team from picking up a win in Big 12 conference play.