Iowa State is the regular season Big 12 champion, outright. Let that sink in for a minute. I’ll stand on my soapbox for a minute and say that should be recognized in some way. To me and many others, being the best team after a full round-robin is way more impressive than being the best team on the day of the championship game. After the Louisiana loss, fans were optimistically telling themselves that the Cyclones could still be a top 2 team and make the conference championship game. Not only have they done that, at this point a loss in Dallas would be disappointing. Brock Purdy is playing the best ball of his career. Breece Hall is still in Breece-st Mode. The defense is firing on all cylinders. A New Years Six bowl is a real possibility. Times are good in Ames. Elsewhere, TCU is surging to the finish line, Oklahoma State is limping home, and the rest of the conference is struggling to find some consistency.
1. Iowa State (Last: 1, Beat West Virginia 42-6)
As if there was any doubt. In a season filled with memories, clinching the Big 12 regular season in another blowout at home will rank up near the top. Congrats to Landen Akers, Kene Nwangwu, and the rest of the senior class for getting some Senior Day memories. Shoutout to the ridiculous number of school record holders on this team. Iowa State fans have had more fun than any fanbase this season, and the celebration is has only just kicked off.
2. Oklahoma (Last: 2, Beat Baylor 27-14)
The Sooners hold firm at 2, but the Baylor game wasn’t exactly a feel-good clincher. Spencer Rattler got rattled, and the running game was almost non-existent. West Virginia is on tap for them to try and work out any issues, because right now they should be considered the underdog in Dallas.
3. Texas (Last: 5, Beat Kansas State 69-31)
Nice. Bijan Robinson went for a cool 20 yards per carry against K-State and Tom Herman has some offensive highlights to put on his resume when he’s looking for his next coaching job. For the record, the idea of firing him now is still insane. The reward for the Longhorns is a chance to beat up Kansas and likely grab the 3rd best Big 12 bowl slot.
4. TCU (Last: 6, Beat Oklahoma State 29-22)
Somehow TCU went from 1-3 to 5-4 in the league. That’s a huge accomplishment for a team with a lot of young contributors. Be ready for them to carry the “finished last year strong” title into a top 25 preseason ranking in 2021.
5. Oklahoma State (Last: 3, Lost to TCU 29-22)
In a way, these guys must be relieved to pack it in and be out of the championship chase. It’s been an extreme limp to the finish for the Cowboys, as the offense never quite put things together to Mike Gundy’s standard, and the vaunted defense fell flat on their face in the last 3 games.
6. West Virginia (Last: 4, Lost to Iowa State 42-6)
Our riot brethren can’t be knocked too much for running head first into the Iowa State buzzsaw. Nobody in the league was going to hang with the Cyclones on that field, and on that day. Finishing with Oklahoma isn’t ideal, but weird things have happened in “look ahead” spots in Morgantown before.
7. Baylor (Last: 7, Lost to Oklahoma 27-14)
The Bears put together a surprisingly strong effort in Norman. What does it mean? It’s hard to say. Maybe it’s a building block for when Charlie Brewer comes back for another senior year next year. Maybe it was just an off night for Oklahoma. Let’s hope John Heacock was taking notes.
8. Kansas State (Last: 8, Lost to Texas 69-31)
Perhaps no team is happier about calling it a season than these guys, who got pummeled for the 2nd time in three weeks. A sub-.500 finish is not what the fanbase expected, but the COVID season is the ultimate asterisk, except for the part where they won at Oklahoma.
9. Texas Tech (Last: 9, Beat Kansas 16-13)
Texas Tech scored 44 points against Oklahoma State two weeks ago. They also scored 16 against Kansas on Saturday. I’ve long pegged the Red Raiders as the most entertaining bad team in the league, and while the Kansas game wasn’t a pretty watch, they certainly lived up to their billing. Alas, we have to bid adieu. But if a bowl game was smart, they’d find a way to extend an invitation for maximum entertainment.
10. Kansas (Last: 10, Lost to Texas Tech 16-13)
That’s a win against the spread for your Kansas Jayhawks. When you’re staring 0-10 in the face, you gotta take your victories where you find them.