The Big 12 is on pace for a pretty exciting year. Teams pundits anticipated to be at the top, have fallen significantly in the last few weeks, and others continue to progress, even if wins don’t tilt in their favor.
Aside from injuries that impacted teams’ game plans, this was a fairly standard weekend, in terms of what we expected from some of the Big 12 teams this season. Will those injuries have longterm impacts on personnel, is anyone’s guess at this point. However, with the uncertainty, we have to take a look at depth charts to see which teams have the best shot moving forward.
Without further ado, here’s the Week 6 Power Rankings for the Big 12 Conference:
10. Iowa State
The Cyclones were one of the Big 12’s most highly anticipated teams coming into this season, but so far, they’re leaving a lot to be desired. with losses against Iowa, Oklahoma, and now a TCU team that’s struggling to establish an identity this season, Iowa State might be in trouble.
You could make the argument that Iowa State almost had TCU if it hadn’t been for the late Horned Frogs’ field goal to seal the victory, and sure, defenses do win championships, however, quarterback Zeb Noland only threw for 79 total yards, with a single touchdown for the day. Most Big 12 teams are bolstering their defenses, but their offenses are averaging in the triple digits, too. Iowa State had just 198 total yards of offense, which would be acceptable in other leagues, but head coach Matt Campbell has to find a rhythm before heading to Stillwater this weekend.
Kansas, Kansas, Kansas… we’re all rooting for them, but like Iowa State, the Jayhawks can’t seem to click. After Kansas fired athletics director Sheahon Zenger back in May, that made David Beaty’s hot seat scalding.
Quarterback Carter Stanley threw for an impressive 249 yards and three touchdowns last weekend, while Jayhawks’ running back Pooka Williams Jr. put up a rushing touchdown, and receiver Steven Sims put up a touchdown in the air, contributing to an overall balanced offensive approach. Unfortunately, the Jayhawks are suffering from the same defensive deficiencies as Iowa State, as they were routed in a 48-24 loss to Oklahoma State.
The Jayhawks will face a massive test against a West Virginia team that is looking to send a message after being shut out by Texas Tech in the second-half last weekend.
8. Kansas State
Bill Snyder signed a contract extension back in the Summer that will keep him on the sidelines through 2022–if things play out the way they should. Unfortunately, the Wildcats are 2-3 overall, 8th in the Big 12, and haven’t won a single in-conference game.
With the Longhorns rising in rankings every week, they already make for a tough opponent, and while it was a relatively low scoring game (by Big 12 standards), it does spell concern for the Wildcats, offensively.
K-State had just 217 total yards of offense in its 14-19 loss in Manhattan, but what’s more concerning is the pass average. The Wildcats are averaging just 4.4 yards-per-pass, and rank No. 117 in the nation in total offense, averaging just 4.97 yards-per-play and just nine offensive touchdowns. With a Baylor team that’s shown more confidence this season than in the two seasons prior, it could be a very long afternoon for Bill Snyder.
Baylor is at 3-2 on the season following a major 33-66 loss at Oklahoma last weekend. While the Bears’ defense presented some issues to the Sooners, the offense is still showing concerns, particularly in the run game. So far, the Bears rank No. 88 nationally in the run game, averaging just 155.8 yards-per-game and 4.45 yards-per-carry. While that’s not a terrible statistic, it does help in clock management, controlling the tempo, and wearing defenses out faster.
While most of the Big 12 is working to master the balanced approach, it could be an interesting season for Baylor if they can’t focus on that and soon, especially with Baylor facingKansas State this weekend, and No. 19 ranked Texas in Austin next weekend.
TCU barely beat Iowa State on a field goal to win it last weekend to end a two game losing slump. The Horned Frogs were supposed to be one of the top teams in the country headed into the season, but with the way they’ve been playing as of late, it might be difficult to get out of the middle of the conference, and even more difficult to prevent the downward trend.
TCU’s defense stepped up in a major way in their 17-14 victory, so the momentum is nice as TCU will have a bye before facing Texas Tech in Week 7.
5. Texas Tech
Texas Tech’s defense has managed consecutive back-to-back shutouts against ranked opponents, which proves that at least in one phase of the game, Tech is a second-half team. Unfortunately, against a West Virginia team at home, the Red Raiders just couldn’t get it going on defense in the first half, and capitalize on knowing Heisman hopeful Will Grier was prone to turnovers. Even more unfortunate was the violent hit to true freshman quarterback Alan Bowman which resulted in a partially compassed lung.
Thankfully for Tech, they have a much needed bye this week before facing TCU next weekend, and while Bowman likely won’t return for some time, look for Coach Kingsbury and offensive coordinator Kevin Johns to draw up packages for McLane Carter and Jett Duffey; both of which are very talented quarterbacks, as long as turnovers are limited.
Is Texas back, or are the Longhorns just playing decent football against overrated teams? Whenever throwing that debate into the ring, it’s only fair to assess every variable, but with a field goal victory over a struggling K-State team, it’s certainly the motivation for Texas as it heads into Red River Rivalry against Oklahoma on Saturday. The biggest issue here is whether the offense and defense will be in sync, and with each game so far presenting major issues in all three phases, it’s truly any guess which Texas football team will show up.
3. Oklahoma State
Overall, the Cowboys looked good last weekend, but a win over Kansas is a win over Kansas. It’s hard to tell just who this Oklahoma State team is, until they play teams that rival Texas Tech in terms of balance, or even a semblance of a defense, such as Oklahoma, or even more challenging, West Virginia.
Much like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State has yet to defeat a Top 25 opponent this season, but with the No.6 ranked offense in the nation, games down the stretch should be pretty fun to watch,
2. West Virginia
West Virginia dominated Texas Tech, both offensively and defensively through the first half of play against Texas Tech, but that half-production performance won’t cut it as the season continues. The Mountaineers are certainly a Top 10 team, but they make Tech look every bit a Top 25 team in the second-half, by scoring just a single touchdown.
Will Grier stepped up and eliminated turnovers, thus finishing the day at 27-41 for 370 yards and three touchdowns. Moreover, the Mountaineers put up 119 yards on the ground, and finished the day at 50 percent on third-down conversions. One area of concern for West Virginia moving forward is in penalty yards. WVU had 12 for 115 yards, compared to 7 for 60 for Texas Tech. The Mountaineers will have to clean that up, especially in the back 1/4 of the season.
Oklahoma still remains king in the Big 12, and while Kyler Murray was benched to start the game against Baylor, he came back and threw six touchdowns for 432 yards in the Sooners’ 66-33 route over the Bears.
With Oklahoma undefeated through the first five games of the season, it’s truly OU vs. the Big 12 at this point. Just what team will the Sooners face in Dallas in November is anyone’s guess, but it’s certainly going to be fun to watch.
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