The divide between the haves and the have nots are now clearer than ever in the Big 12. The fun part is still to come, with most of the top 5 still having to play each other.
1. Oklahoma State (Last Week: 1, Beat Iowa State 24-21)
It was the Cowboys who won the battle for 1st place against Iowa State. Spencer Sanders wasn’t perfect, but you can see the impact his running has on opposing defenses. It’ll be tough for anyone to stop them from gaining 10 yards when it’s time to run out the clock. Mike Gundy with a great running game and defense doesn’t sit right stylistically, but it’s plenty effective in this weird season.
2. Kansas State (Last Week: 2, Beat Kansas 55-7)
It’s time to quit doubting the Wildcats. I shouldn’t take too much away from beating up Kansas, but K-State just has a way of making the right plays. The new QB has gotten reps, and should be ready to take on a grinder of a remaining schedule. Going to Morgantown on Halloween is a recipe for a disaster (for them).
3. Iowa State (Last Week: 3, Lost to Oklahoma State 24-21)
I find it tough to knock Iowa State too much for losing on the road to #6 in the country. Cyclone fans will be replaying the game from the should’ve been 10-0 start and wondering what happened. But as has often been the case in big games of the Matt Campbell era, they simply didn’t execute well enough and had enough procedure penalties to make Campbell’s head explode. Fortunately, this is a “get right” week with Kansas looming on Saturday.
4. Oklahoma (Last Week: 8, Beat TCU 33-14)
Just as I suspected, Oklahoma couldn’t be written off after the 2 early losses. Maybe we were all collectively wrong about TCU (see below) but winning big on the road in conference still means something. So does holding an opponent not named Kansas to just 14 points. If the Sooners are about to go on a run though, they have to survive Halloween in Lubbock, which has to be the scariest scenario this conference can offer.
5. Texas (Last Week: 7, Beat Baylor 27-16)
These guys are still not back, and still don’t have a win that opens your eyes. This week is a chance to change that perception, and jump back into the conference title picture. Of the contenders, they are the team standing right next to that dividing line.
6. West Virginia (Last Week: 6, Lost to Texas Tech 34-27)
On the other side sit the Mountaineers, who I’m struggling to figure out. The defense didn’t hold up against Texas Tech, but it was also a weird road game, where that is bound to happen. They’ve put up some points the last 2 weeks, but against the worst defenses the conference has to offer. This feels like a perfect place for them. They’re not quite on the level of the contenders, but not bad enough to tumble to the Baylor-Kansas depths. Of course this week is a great chance to change my mind, with K-State in town.
7. Texas Tech (Last Week: 9, Beat West Virginia 34-27)
Congrats to the boys from Lubbock for pulling out a close one. After the traumatic loss to Texas to open the season, Matt Wells could’ve packed it in early. But the QB change to Henry Colombi has provided a little spark. West Virginia isn’t an easy team to score on. Oklahoma coming to town this week will be a real test of improvement.
8. TCU (Last Week: 5, Lost to Oklahoma 33-14)
Remember when TCU beat Texas in Austin a few weeks ago? We were ready to anoint the Frogs as contenders! Back-to-back losses now to admittedly top half teams have shot them down the standings. They are another team having extreme problems putting up points, and in this Big 12, it’ll be a huge problem. They won’t win too many rock fights.
9. Baylor (Last Week: 8, Lost to Texas 27-16)
Baylor’s played 3 games while most of the rest of the conference has played at least 5 so the standings look really weird. The Bears never really had a chance against Texas despite the relatively close final score. They really struggle to move the ball, which is surprising for a team with a veteran quarterback.
10. Kansas (Last Week: 10, Lost to Kansas State 55-7)
Let’s see. I have to say something nice about Kansas. Uhm........ They didn’t get shut out?