For weeks now, pundits, bloggers, and fans have been debating on which team would likely face Oklahoma in the Big 12 Football title game in December. With the Sooners winning Bedlam, Texas sealing a late win against Texas Tech, and West Virginia handling business at TCU, it should come down to those three teams. However, Iowa State has the same record as UT. So things could get interesting down the final stretch. With three weeks left to go, here’s how the Big 12 Football Week 12 Power Rankings stack up.
17-21 loss at Kansas State
Different week with the Kansas Jayhawks, but it’s the same story following its 17-21 loss to Kansas State last weekend. Kansas might not be the most attractive job in the country right now. But for athletics director Jeff Long to position the Jayhawks to be considered by a bigger (although, perhaps, disgraced) head coaching prospect the team needs to prove that they have a fight in them. After being down against Kansas State, they showed grit and determination. But they weren’t able to force those turnovers they’ve become so notorious for under coach David Beaty. With Oklahoma and Texas still on the schedule, the odds of things improving for Kansas this season aren’t high, but they have to keep fighting.
9. Kansas State
21-17 win over Kansas
Kansas State managed to squeak out a win over Kansas, but if anything, it highlighted just how much the Wildcats have struggled this season. The Wildcats had issues in all three phases of the game, and only seem to be improving on special teams. In a game that was decided on which team made the fewest mistakes, the final touchdown play by K-State on a 4th down conversion was as gritty as you could expect from a game like that. But it was just enough to get that fourth-quarter score to move K-State to 4-6 overall. The Wildcats host Texas Tech this week and cap the season against No. 22 ranked Iowa State. Both opponents are showing improvement throughout the season, so K-State must tighten things up this week.
10-47 loss at West Virginia
It’s crazy to think that TCU was ranked in the preseason, and chosen to finish near the top of the Big 12 conference. Following its 10-47 loss in Morgantown against West Virginia, it’s safe to say that a 4-6 overall TCU team will be facing a steep uphill battle trying to get to bowl eligibility with Baylor and Oklahoma State still on the schedule. While TCU held West Virginia scoreless through the first quarter, it was pretty much “game over” when TCU allowed three touchdowns in just 3:25 in the second quarter. The Horned Frogs scored just one touchdown in the second half and allowed three additional touchdowns and a field goal. They were held to a lowly 222 total yards of offense–a season low. TCU has faced several injuries this season, but so has everyone else. This is where depth plays a factor, and TCU just hasn’t been able to get great play from the “next man up”.
14-28 loss at Iowa State
Optimism started growing for Baylor following their win over Oklahoma State two weeks ago. But their loss at Iowa State indicated a step backward in more ways than one. On the one hand, Baylor struggled to score, putting up just two touchdowns in the second half. And on the other hand, while several Big 12 teams have proven to be better after the half this season, you can’t be effective if you lose players to ejections, which the Bears experienced with the loss of quarterback Charlie Brewer for a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Thankfully for Baylor, Brewer will not miss game time against TCU, as the ejection rule only applies to fighting and for targeting penalties.
6. Oklahoma State
47-48 loss at Oklahoma
Oklahoma State is on a two-loss skid. However, with its nail-biting loss at Oklahoma last weekend, it showed that the Cowboys have the talent and drive to finish the season with Bowl eligibility. If their wide receivers continue working defenders as they did against the Sooners, they have a shot. Much like Texas Tech’s late heroics a few weeks against Oklahoma, the Cowboys were one two-point conversion away from pulling the upset. Regardless of the loss, it’s the motivation will certainly be there for the Cowboys with West Virginia on the schedule this weekend. But with a West Virginia team that’s emerged as one of the top defenses in the country, the receivers will be tested–perhaps more in this game than any other time this season.
5. Texas Tech
34-41 loss against Texas
With its loss against Texas, the Red Raiders are now 5-5 on the season, and 3-4 in the conference. The quarterback issue has been a revolving door of speculation and criticism since Alan Bowman’s injury. I think it’s fair to say that Jett Duffey’s 524 total yards of offense which included 80 rushing yards on critical conversions helped the Red Raiders stay in the game. Unfortunately, turnovers have been his biggest issue this season. Instead of losing confidence, though, Duffey had a monster 4th quarter, which included a two touchdown passes to Antoine Wesley and one to T.J. Vasher. Even in what’s perceived as a “down year” for Tech quarterbacks, it’s still important to note that Tech has one of the nation’s top offenses, and Wesley is second in the nation in receiving and leads all Power 5 receivers. Tech could still finish the season at 8-5 with a Bowl win. With Kansas State and Baylor left on the road, penalties and turnovers have to be the focus now.
41-34 win at Texas Tech
Texas is now ranked at No. 15 in the College Football Playoff. While a berth isn’t likely, the Longhorns are on the fringe of the Big 12 title game. If they can defeat Iowa State at home this week, and win on the road against Kansas in two weeks, they have a chance. With Sam Ehlinger’s 4th quarter heroics against Texas Tech in Lubbock last weekend, Texas has all the confidence they need to send Iowa State packing. If this is to happen, the Texas defense has to clean things up, considering they blew a 17-point lead at Texas Tech. Iowa State likes to control the clock, and the Longhorns defense will have to come up in a big way.
3. Iowa State
28-14 Win at home
The Cyclones earned their fifth straight win over Baylor to hit the 6-3 mark on the season, making them Bowl eligible. While the Cyclones blanked the Bears in the first half, they allowed 14 points and were shut out by Baylor in the 4th quarter. As we’ve witnessed this season, most teams have played better in the second half of play. So for Iowa State, which still has Texas, Kansas State, and Incarnate Word (6-4) on the schedule, that is an area where they need to address. The game turned south fast in the third quarter when running back David Montgomery and Baylor linebacker Greg Roberts were ejected. There was an altercation that subsequently almost cleared the bench in a full brawl shortly after. No word from the Big 12 on whether the incident will cause either player to face suspension. But Iowa State will need all hands on deck if they want to pull an upset and land a spot in the Big 12 title game.
2. West Virginia
47-10 win against TCU
I was most critical of the Mountaineers for the non-conference scheduling (minus the NC State cancellation due to Hurricane Florence). After the Iowa State loss at the always dangerous Jack Trice Stadium, I hammered them in the Big-12 Power Rankings. But West Virginia bounced back in a big way and have won three straight, with its most recent win over TCU last weekend. With quarterback Will Grier staying an easy frontrunner for the Heisman, I believe that Dana Holgorsen has a team that could easily go 2-0 in its final games at Oklahoma State, and against Oklahoma at home to finish the season. We can run statistics all afternoon, but the fact remains that West Virginia managed to score four touchdowns against TCU in under 1:30 each. That level of high octane efficiency is tough to defend throughout the conference. One statistic that WVU has a sizable advantage is in total defense, where the Mountaineers rank 37th nationally.
48-47 win against Oklahoma State
The Sooners have nine lives. In every close game, the pendulum seems to swing in their favor. And that was the case again this past weekend against Oklahoma State. Sooners’ quarterback Kyler Murray connected on 21 of 29 passes for 349 yards and a touchdown, with 66 rushing yards. These stats don’t exactly scream “Heisman front-runner,” but he is one. Running backs Kennedy Brooks and Trey Sermon accounted for 3 and 2 touchdowns on the ground respectively. In a league where the game is controlled on time of possession, a strong run game is important. Oklahoma certainly controlled the run game against Oklahoma State. The Sooners earned the No. 6 slot in the College Football Playoff standings this week. They are on the fringe of the top four. But if they can win out, it’s hard to deny their strength of schedule and quality of wins. The Sooners could help the Big 12 squeak in the College Football Playoff.
Want More? Check Out: Big Ten Power Rankings Week 12: “The Game” Is On The Horizon