Iowa State is #1 in the rankings as we enter November. It certainly didn’t feel right when I first thought about it. But the leap from 3 to 1 is boosted by Oklahoma State’s home loss to Texas and Kansas State getting walloped at West Virginia. Oklahoma is looking dangerous now. Suddenly the league looking bad may have 6 good teams in it. Unfortunately it probably means no CFP for the Big 12 this year, but it should contain plenty of entertaining football.
1. Iowa State (Last Week: 3, Beat Kansas 52-22)
The Cyclones are tied for 1st in the Big 12 entering November. I’m not a historian but I can safely assume it’s not something that happens often. Saturday in Lawrence was a workman-like effort. Jump out to a quick lead and progressively pull away from the inferior opponent. The challenge now is carrying the October magic because the last 4 games will not be easy.
2. Oklahoma (Last Week: 4, Beat Texas Tech 62-28)
Oklahoma was progressively getting better, and they put an exclamation point on the turnaround by putting up 48 first half points in Lubbock. They’ll safely get to 4 wins in a row this weekend, and are 100% in the conference title race again. They also take the lead in the “We don’t want to play them right now” standings.
3. Texas (Last Week: 5, Beat Oklahoma State 41-34)
Well, well, well. The back meter took a dip in a good direction for the Longhorns. The defense was not great, but managed 4 takeaways. Sam Ehlinger wasn’t great, but he was opportunistic. Sometimes that’s all it takes. This weekend is a de-facto eliminator for the conference title with West Virginia.
4. Oklahoma State (Last Week: 1, Lost to Texas 41-34)
Halloween was a truly scary night in Stillwater. The Fightin’ Gundys had control of the game and seemed poised to run away with it for most of the 2nd half. But Spencer Sanders turned the ball over 4 times and now the conference race is wide open again. They’ll have to put it back together quick, because a road trip to Manhattan isn’t ideal for a turnaround.
5. West Virginia (Last Week: 6, Beat Kansas State 37-10)
Good on the ‘Eers, the surprising favorites, for beating up Kansas State. Neal Brown’s squad is flying under the radar at 3-2 in the Big 12, but that’s about to change. With upcoming games against Iowa State, Oklahoma, and Texas on Saturday, it’s time to see if these guys are for real.
6. Kansas State (Last Week: 2, Lost to West Virginia 37-10)
Quite a tumble for the Wildcats, although maybe this has been in the makings for a few weeks. Backup QBs aren’t meant to win every game. This year’s team isn’t the first group to have a rough Halloween in Morgantown. Oklahoma State coming to town this week will say a lot about the ability to compete in the Big 12 going forward.
7. TCU (Last Week: 8, Beat Baylor 33-23)
Gary Patterson had to feel a lot better getting off to a great start against Baylor. They didn’t close great, but a win was much needed. They are on the wrong end of the divide between competitors and not, but in the Big 12 this year, I guess you can’t rule anything out.
8. Texas Tech (Last Week: 7, Lost to Oklahoma 62-28)
If the Oklahoma game was 3 minutes long, Tech would be making a big jump forward. Unfortunately, Henry Colombi was turnover happy and the defense got shredded by Oklahoma. Tech is settling into the usual pattern of scoring a lot of points but giving up a whole lot more. The games will be “must watch” but Tech probably won’t win many of them.
9. Baylor (Last Week: 9, Lost to TCU 33-23)
The Bears made a nice effort out of a disaster of a first half against TCU. The recent history against Iowa State is checkered to put it lightly. Hopefully they bring plenty of heavy coats to Ames on Saturday.
10. Kansas (Last Week: 10, Lost to Iowa State 52-22)
22 points is a season high in a conference game. That counts as progress!