Big 12 Football Power Rankings Week 13: Unleash The Chaos

Big 12 Football Week 13 Power Rankings

With just two weeks left on the Big 12 Football schedule, it’s safe to say the finale is going to be pure chaos.

This weekend, Texas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia will decide their own fate as they’re all competing for a spot in the Big 12 Football Championship. With Kansas announcing a new head coach, and quarterback issues plaguing Texas Tech (a first), there’s plenty of chaos throughout the conference, and from every angle.

10. Kansas

40-55 loss at Oklahoma

With Les Miles-to-Kansas momentum in the Jayhawks’ favor, they actually put together a valiant effort against Oklahoma. Kansas put up 524 total yards of offense and committed zero turnovers. Meanwhile, the Kansas defense did what it’s been good at all season, and came up with two turnovers. With a more defense-minded mechanism in place, Miles could already have a built-in identity come next Fall.

9. Baylor

9-16 loss against TCU

Baylor special teams blocking a TCU punt was a highlight in an otherwise flat game. With just a solo touchdown by quarterback Charlie Brewer, the Bears just couldn’t get a lot going on offense, which could suffer even more against Texas Tech this weekend. Baylor’s special teams have had seven block kicks throughout this season, which is a PR since 1984, so look for that against Texas Tech this weekend.

8. TCU

19-6 win at Baylor

TCU has a severely depleted roster. But third-string string quarterback, Grayson Muehlstein, got the job done. He finished the day 11 of 15 with 137 passing yards and a touchdown. Additionally, running back Jalen Reagor put up rushing and receiving touchdowns. The Horned Frogs’ defense also held a struggling Baylor to just one rushing touchdown by Charlie Brewer and a field goal. TCU faces an Oklahoma State team this weekend that defeated West Virginia down to the wire. Momentum is with both teams, but TCU’s depth issues could become a major factor.

7. Texas Tech

6-21 loss at Kansas State

There’s no reason to sugar coat it, last Saturday against the Wildcats was a disaster for Texas Tech. On what started as such a promising run for Tech has fallen flat. Unfortunately, it’s in an area where Kliff Kingsbury has never had a problem: quarterbacks. When Alan Bowman was in, the offense looked like an entirely different unit, one that had the talent and momentum to compete for the title. Unfortunately, Jett Duffey’s turnover problems continue, which resulted in 6 points for K-State. It could have been worse, which speaks for the drive of the defense, but when you have the second-highest rated wide receiver in the nation in Antoine Wesley, the quarterbacking mistakes significantly minimize the effectiveness of Kingsbury’s play-calling style. Tech could be on its 4th string quarterback for Baylor. That is less than ideal, but with Bowl eligibility and a potential for a seven-win season on the line, Tech has to find a way to win.

6. Iowa State

10-24 loss at Texas

There isn’t a lot to write home about for Iowa State for this game. Quarterback Brock Purty averaged just 5.9 yards-per-pass and finished the day with a quarterback rating of just 17.1 percent. The Cyclones were without top offensive weapon David Washington for the first half. However, he only finished the day with 10 carries for 33 yards and a single touchdown. Defensively, Iowa State prevented a complete meltdown, which was assisted slightly with Texas’ backup quarterback Shane Buechele coming in for the second-half. Iowa State faces a Kansas State team that just beat Texas Tech, but a night game at Jack Trice should help add another tick to the win column.

5. Kansas State

21-6 win against Texas Tech

Like Texas Tech, Kansas State’s season hasn’t panned out as expected. But the Wildcats still found a way to get the win in a similar way that Texas was able to: quarterback exploitation. In a low scoring game, every point mattered. Kansas State struggled to get the football in the end zone, but they did put up points on turnovers and a safety on a blocked punt. Kansas State needs another win to become Bowl eligible. However, with Iowa State on the schedule for this weekend, that might be harder said than done, as ISU is looking for revenge, and 6:00 pm kickoffs at Jack Trice Stadium is a tough venue for anyone.

4. Oklahoma State

45-41 win over West Virginia

Oklahoma State managed to get the job done against West Virginia and might have disrupted the Mountaineers’ shot at a Big 12 title. In the Cowboys’ win last weekend, quarterback Taylor Cornelius had two turnovers but managed to connect with Tylan Wallace on a touchdown with just: 42 seconds in regulation. Cornelius put up five touchdowns in his final home game, which lifted the Cowboys to Bowl eligibility. With a TCU team that’s a little banged up and the Cowboys riding high having taken out the No. 7 team in the nation, Mike Gundy could still pull off an 8-win season–including a Bowl win.

3. West Virginia

41-45 loss at Oklahoma State

I know, “how can West Virginia be ahead of Oklahoma State when Oklahoma State beat West Virginia?” Easy. The Mountaineers might not be considered for the College Football Playoff, but if they beat Oklahoma, they play for the Big 12 title. A bigger picture to look at, however, is that in a came as crazy as last weekend’s game against Oklahoma State was, quarterback Will Grier managed to not throw a single interception. The West Virginia defense (which is one of the best in the conference) allowed 604 total yards of offense. But I guess by NFL standards now (see: Chiefs-Rams on Monday Night Football) that’s okay. The good news is, West Virginia’s defense is better, statistically than Oklahoma, so that could be the edge this weekend.

2. Texas

24-10 win over Iowa State

With Texas taking down Iowa State last weekend, they’re now second in the Big 12, with the only losses of the year against West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Maryland. I think we can agree that Texas is back, but more importantly, the Longhorns’ defense only allowed 10 points against Iowa State. Moving forward, the issues lie in Sam Ehlinger’s shoulder, which was diagnosed as an AC contusion. In Monday’s teleconference, head coach Tom Herman said, “No broken bones, no separation, no ridiculous amount of damage, but it’s angry. It’s upset. The joint… the shoulder is inflamed.” Ehlinger missed the second half of play against Iowa State, and there’s no word on whether he’ll play against Kansas. But Shane Buechele was perfect, throwing 10/10 for 89 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, Texas receivers averaged 10.3 yards-per-play, so offensively, Texas should be fine the rest of the way.

1. Oklahoma

55-40 win against Kansas

Oklahoma might still be in control of its destiny on not just a trip to the Big 12 Championship, but as a fringe team to the College Football Playoffs. However, just as the defense was an issue against Georgia last year, the problem continues. It could ultimately work against the Sooners when the Selection Committee makes its mind up. Against Kansas, the Oklahoma defense allowed 524 total yards of offense, allowing 25 first downs and 40 points. As for the Heisman race, quarterback Kyler Murray was 21 of 32 for 272 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception against Kansas. The expectations of him against Kansas were much higher. But thankfully for the Sooners, they have one more regular season game against West Virginia to bolster its standings.

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Big 12 Football Power Rankings Week 11: Upsets, and Beaty is OUT

Big 12 Football Power Rankings Week 11

There is certainly a lot to unpack in this week’s Big 12 Football Power Rankings Week 11. Unfortunately, it was one riddled with injuries and coaching moves we all saw coming. There’s a lot to get through, so without further ado, here’s how Big 12 Football teams stack up through 11 weeks of play.

10. Kansas

3-27 loss against Iowa State 

Kansas is now 3-6 following its 3-27 loss against No. 24 ranked Iowa State, and that’s not even bad part. Athletics director Jeff Long announced on Sunday that head coach David Beaty was OUT as head coach for the Jayhawks, but he will continue his role throughout the rest of the season. Kansas would need to defeat Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Texas in order to be Bowl eligible, but that’s unlikely at this point.

It’s hard to find a silver lining in this. And scoring just three points isn’t a highlight to write home about, which paved the foundation for social media to erupt with calls to cancel the program in its entirety. While nobody knows exactly what the future has in store for Kansas Football, there’s already chatter that Beaty could have a home as an assistant receivers’ coach in the Big 12. Stay tuned.

9. Kansas State

13-14 loss at TCU

With all that TCU has been experiencing in all three phases of the game this season, this was the game everyone thought could be the game Kansas State would win to get momentum into the final stretch. Unfortunately, in a battle between beleaguered teams, Kansas State came up short on a missed extra point to fall to 3-6 on the season. The Wildcats lost quarterback Skylar Thompson to an injury early in the game, but it didn’t take backup Alex Delton long to take command of the offense. Delton finished the day 15-25 for 155 yards and a touchdown. But defensively, the Wildcats just couldn’t hang on and allowed a third-quarter touchdown they couldn’t make up for.

Could this season mark the end for head coach Bill Snyder, who signed an extension this year? Perhaps, but Kansas State will have to win out just to become Bowl eligible, and with Texas Tech and Iowa State still on the schedule, it’s certainly anyone’s guess as to how the Snyder Legacy ends.

8. TCU

14-13 win against Kansas State

The TCU Horned Frogs finally got a win on account of defense and preventing a PAT following a fourth-quarter touchdown. Who knows, maybe if the Wildcats had gone for a 2-point conversion, these frames would look different, but in any event, it was a good “bounce back” win for TCU and certainly should give them some confidence as they prepare for West Virginia this weekend. The end of the season will decide whether a Gary Patterson coached team will make a 16th consecutive Bowl bid. But at 4-5 on the season, it’s going to be a tough uphill climb for the Horned Frogs, although, it is attainable.

One bright spot is quarterback Michael Collins’ cannon of an arm. He connected on a 67 yard touchdown pass to Jalen Reagor, so if TCU can improve on the consistency of throws, they should at least present a fight moving forward, but the key term here is “consistency,” which is kind of hit or miss in Big 12 Football, especially as injuries pile up.

7. Oklahoma State

31-35 loss at Baylor

Like TCU and Kansas State this season, things just aren’t going well for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State is now 5-4 on the season following its loss to a progressively improving Baylor team, and with Oklahoma next, followed by West Virginia and TCU, it’s still possible to become Bowl eligible, but Mike Gundy’s team has to become a more disciplined team and fast.

Against Baylor, the Cowboys amassed 12 penalties for 133 yards. Don’t expect to beat teams if you’re beating yourself up first. This cost them critical yardage in an already close game, where the Cowboys limited Baylor to just 158 passing yards. With Bedlam on Saturday against Oklahoma, it doesn’t give Oklahoma State much time to fix special teams issues, but Gundy has to adjust the game plan to more aggressive plays if they want a shot at another upset.

6.  Baylor Bears

35-31 win against Oklahoma State

Having won just one game in Matt Rhule’s first season with Baylor, the Bears are now just one game away from Bowl eligibility following their win over Oklahoma State over the weekend. But the Bears did receive some assists from an undisciplined Oklahoma State team, so it minimized the interception and missed field goals to start the game.

Against a team like Iowa State this weekend, those mistakes will be costly, so it’s important for quarterbacks Jalan McClendon and Charlie Brewer to get in a rhythm early, regardless of who starts or finishes. Remember that Brewer was in concussion protocol last week. Thankfully for the Bears, Brewer was able to come in late and manage two touchdown drives for the win, but if Rhule goes with it again, a two-quarterback set should make things interesting against Iowa State this weekend.

5. Texas Tech

46-51 loss against Oklahoma

It’s unfortunate that Texas Tech lost starting quarterback Alan Bowman at the half to a re-aggravated collapsed lung. The Red Raiders were rolling, and winning several key battles against Oklahoma on defense, which included a record night from Vaughnte Dorsey where he intercepted two passes in the first quarter. Texas Tech would score touchdowns on both of those turnovers. Texas Tech’s defense has shown tremendous resiliency in the last few weeks, which shows that David Gibbs’ unit should be in business next season, as several backups have seen game time this season. It really makes you wonder what would have happened if Bowman had stayed healthy.

Texas Tech was pretty successful throughout the night on screen passes. However, lack of success on third-down conversions (Tech was 3-13 on the night) hurt. The run game, in particular, wasn’t up to par. Tech finished with just 107 to the Sooners’ 323 total rushing yards. If they can make that adjustment, they’ll have a big advantage over Texas this weekend. And it goes without saying that the Red Raiders are hoping to have some good news on the Bowman and Dakota Allen injuries this week. They need a few days to get the offense back in sync before Tech closes out the season in Lubbock on Saturday against the Longhorns.

4. Texas

41-42 loss against West Virginia

Texas dropped a nail-biter against–arguably–one of the most improved and dynamic teams in the Big 12: West Virginia. Although the game did come down to a 2-point conversion on a keeper by Will Grier, it wasn’t without its share of built-up drama. There was even a polarizing unsportsmanlike call, where David Sills flashed “Horns Down” after a touchdown.

Texas sustained some injuries, including the loss of Davante Davis (neck sprain), and Breckyn Hager with a dislocated radius. UT isn’t providing further information on those injuries, but giving up 578 total yards of offense doesn’t look good for a team that still has to get through a tough Iowa State team for a shot at the Big 12 Football title game.

3. Iowa State

27-3 win at Kansas

The Iowa State Cyclones keep rolling, and are now on a four-game win streak, and currently sit at  5-3 on the season. This team has had the biggest turnaround of all the Big 12 Football teams, and with weapons like quarterback Brock Purdy throwing for 263 yards and three touchdowns against a team that’s the best in college football in takeaways is impressive. Of course, the progressive improvement isn’t without continued speculation that head coach Matt Campbell could leave. Especially with his name being thrown around for head coaching jobs elsewhere. Iowa State still has a Baylor team that’s also improving, Texas, and Kansas State still on the schedule. The Cyclones need to stay focused on crashing the Big 12 Football Championship party.

2. Oklahoma

51-46 win at Texas Tech

Oklahoma wasn’t as aggressive against a Texas Tech team the Sooners were projected to defeat by double-digits in Lubbock. Instead, the Red Raiders held a halftime lead. Few Oklahoma fans will argue that if it hadn’t been for Tech quarterback Alan Bowman missing the second half of play, we might be discussing a very different position.

Running back Trey Sermon picked up where Rodney Anderson left off. He racked up 206 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. That was an area of the play-calling where head coach Lincoln Riley knew they’d have an advantage, especially with Tech linebacker Dakota Allen out with an injury. As I’ve said all season, Oklahoma has been the top team in the Big 12 Conference. But, with the way West Virginia is playing, the Big 12 Football Championship game might be a repeat of the Sooners’ finale on Nov. 23.

1. West Virginia

42-41 win at Texas

With West Virginia’s win over the Texas Longhorns in Austin last weekend, it pretty much elevated their shot at facing the Sooners’ in the Big 12 Football Championship game. Quarterback Will Grier threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns and was responsible for the keeper on the Mountaineers’ 2-point conversion attempt, which not only helped his Heisman credentials but also padded his abilities enough to have NFL people discussing which offense he’d plug into on Sundays.

Texas is always a tough opponent, but the WVU Defense allowing 520 total yards of offense is something they have to work on.

 

Want more? Check out: Unafraid Show’s College Football Top 10 Rankings Week 11: No Margin for Error

Big 12 Power Rankings Week 10: Butt Fumbles, and Playoff Implications

Big 12 Power Rankings Week 10

There were several upsets and losses throughout the Big 12 conference that could shape things as we head towards the final stretch in November. But with teams like West Virginia back in sync, and Oklahoma State taking down Texas, the path to the Big 12 Championship is truly open hunting season–with the exception of Oklahoma. Without further ado… here’s the Big 12 Power Rankings Week 10:

10. Baylor

The Baylor Bears took a few steps forward in their loss to Texas a few weeks ago. But it’s hard to find strengths in this week’s 14-58 loss at the hands of West Virginia. Baylor was limited to just 287 total yards of offense and didn’t appear to be prepared to face a team looking to make a statement.

Early on, quarterback Charlie Brewer was replaced by Jalan McClendon after throwing three interceptions and throwing just 1 of 8 for 22 yards. To contrast, Brewer was 20 of 39 for 240 yards, a touchdown and an interception against Texas the week prior. With a struggling TCU on the schedule on Nov. 17, Baylor could become bowl eligible at five games. However, on all three phases of the ball, the adjustments need to be made fast–especially with an Oklahoma State team on the schedule this week.

9. TCU

With TCU’s 26-27 loss at Kansas, it’s safe to say there might be some job security volatility in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs knew how effective Kansas had been this season in forcing turnovers. Yet, TCU still fell prey to a disastrous one when quarterback Michael Collins butt fumbled during a critical drive. Head coach Gary Patterson attributed to the loss and mistakes as TCU being a young team. He continued by saying, “The bottom line is, we’re going to keep fighting. We’re going to keep getting better so we can move forward If we do that, we’ll have a chance.”

But fighting might be a bigger issue, especially with TCU having to replace KaVontae Turpin who was kicked off the team last week due to allegations of assault. Quarterback Shawn Robinson is also out. That forced a young Michael Collins to step up. Turnovers were an issue for Collins against Kansas, but Patterson has a point that he’s young, and he will learn.

8. Kansas State

Kansas State is now 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the Big 12 following a 14-51 loss to Oklahoma–yet another collapse in the season following Bill Snyder’s extension. While the Wildcats weren’t touted as a defensive team this season. It’s never a good day when your defense only forces one punt, regardless of how potent the opposing offense is. Another point of concern is that quarterback Skylar Thompson looked good against an Oklahoma State. But Thompson followed that up with 108 yards against the Sooners and amassed just 137 yards on the ground.

The schedule is full of offense and blooming defenses awaiting Kansas State the rest of the season. The Wildcats might find themselves ineligible for Bowl season of things don’t change, and fast.

7. Kansas

One thing people don’t realize about the Kansas Jayhawks is that they rank first in the nation in turnovers gained at 21. Through eight games they have 12 interceptions and nine fumbles. With TCU playing a sophomore quarterback, it was easier for the Jayhawks to turn up the dial and earn its first Big 12 win in 14 games. Kansas was able to snap the longest losing streak in conference losses in the nation. What’s more, in the past three seasons, the Jayhawks have just three conference wins in 33 games.

The defense was key against an unusually down TCU team. This could be David Beaty’s last season at Kansas even though it really shouldn’t be. It’s not all doom, and gloom like others who are already writing on his tombstone would tell you. This weekend, Kansas faces an Iowa State team that just defeated a very good Texas Tech team. So if Kansas wants a shot at inching one step closer to Bowl eligibility, this is definitely the weekend to pull out all the stops. Hopefully, they are playing in an empty stadium, which Beaty says he prefers.

6. Texas Tech

Texas Tech certainly didn’t play its best on offense, and it not only cost them a win, but it also exposed some serious areas of concern. The primary concern is whether quarterback Alan Bowman had his confidence shaken following his partially collapsed lung injury against West Virginia. He’s shown flashes that mirror the gunslinger Tech fans saw in the first part of the season. But, he showed trepidation against an Iowa State defense that Tech should have handled. Penalties were an issue for the Red Raiders, who finished the day with 10 for 85 yards. Most of those penalties were questionable, and this isn’t debatable. But in any event, when players are suspicious of inconsistent calls, it’s no excuse to pull up. And penalties are certainly no excuse why Tech could only amass 30 rushing yards.

Texas Tech blew a major opportunity to take control of a third-place spot in Big 12 standings. Tech gets Oklahoma and Texas at home in back-to-back weeks. Performance, discipline, and execution will decide whether this team truly can overcome adversity and retake their chaotic reign in the Big 12. Tech certainly has “Sunday” receivers and special teams that are making a mark this season. In any event, Tech is sitting at 5-3 overall and 4th in the Big 12. With Baylor and Kansas State still, on the schedule, head coach Kliff Kingsbury has all the tools to pull off his best season since taking the job in 2015.

5. Iowa State

Iowa State’s 40-31 victory over Texas Tech has the Cyclones undefeated through the month of October. Now, it’s one of those fringe teams that could be coming alive in the final quarter of the season. In an afternoon riddled by penalties by Tech, Iowa State was able to capitalize on the mind game. A costly safety by Tech quarterback Alan Bowman with 4:39 in the 4th quarter turned into the nail in the coffin for the Red Raiders. The Cyclones got the ball back and capped a well-played game with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Brock Purdy to Hakeem Butler to seal the game.

Iowa State’s defense could be what continues to swing the pendulum this season, especially with a schedule of top teams that have been caught unprepared throughout the season.  With a motivated Kansas on the schedule this weekend, Iowa State has to stay focused and keep improving.

4. Texas

We’ve posed the same question throughout the season for a reason, “Is Texas back?” While at times the Longhorns have shown that they deserve to be in the Playoff discussion. But following its loss to a struggling Oklahoma State team on Saturday, the bigger concern is whether Texas blew a shot to guarantee a trip to Dallas for the Big 12 Championship game.

Texas got quarterback Sam Ehlinger back following a shoulder injury he sustained against Baylor. Ehlinger wasn’t as effective in his return as many Texas fans feared. He connected on just 22 of 42 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns. Texas did manage to put up 119 yards rushing, which helped to extend drives. But the Cowboys limited star receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s production to just 69 receiving yards and 0 touchdowns. The loss sprung Texas from No. 6 to No. 15 in the AP Poll. And with a West Virginia team this weekend that put away K-State easily, Tom Herman certainly has his hands full.

3. Oklahoma State

Things came alive for the Oklahoma State Cowboys last weekend in Stillwater. A 38-35 victory over Texas was impressive. Texas was being discussed as a fringe team into the College Football Playoff just two weeks ago. Well, the Cowboys might have ended that talk last weekend, as quarterback Taylor Cornelius connected in 23 of 34 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns. Oklahoma State put up 502 total yards of offense, even managing 181 yards rushing. Penalties were pretty limited to just 4 for 52 yards, and the Pokes controlled the time of possession for almost 10 minutes longer than the Longhorns.

One area of concern, however, was that the Cowboys’ defense allowed the Longhorns to put up 402 yards of offense. While they managed to hold on to the win, a second-half comeback was in full swing, and Texas might have earned a dub if it weren’t for Cornelius turning on the jets on 3rd & 10 for the go-ahead score and an aggressive 4th & 1 approach throughout the game. At 5-3 currently, Oklahoma State still has the potential to pull off a very good season, and it’s entirely possible to keep the momentum up with Baylor this weekend.

2. West Virginia

Two weeks ago I wrote that “every game matters,” and took some flack about where West Virginia was ranked. They are a team with tons of talent and potential, but I felt like their play wasn’t earning nods in a way that matched the caliber of talent. Well, this week, the Mountaineers shut everyone up, including me, and just in time. West Virginia has a real shot at taking Texas out this weekend… if they play with the same physicality they showed against Baylor.

Deficits are always tough to overcome. And West Virginia put up 31 points in a single quarter which gave Baylor a 41 point hole to crawl out of. Aside from the WVU defense allowing 14 points in the third quarter, they pitched a shutout through three. Will Grier threw 17 of 27, for 353 yards and three touchdowns. WVU put up 172 yards on the ground, which assisted in 22 first down conversions, despite having the football for 3:40 less than the Bears.  This week the Mountaineers draw the Longhorns. Texas is 24th in the nation in red zone defense, so two issues WVU needs to correct are third-down conversions, where they were just 1-10, and penalties last week.

1. Oklahoma

Throughout the season, I’ve said that it’s Oklahoma versus everyone, and through nine weeks, that’s still true. Incredibly enough, the Sooners have only seemed to improve throughout every phase of the game. Quarterback Kyler Murray is only inching his way higher and higher on Heisman radars. In OU’s 51-14 route over the Kansas State Wildcats last weekend,  the Sooners only punted the ball once, and even gave reps to backup quarterback Austin Kendall late in the fourth quarter’s “garbage time.”

Kyler Murray did Kyler Murray things, connecting on 19 of 24 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns. He also made things happen on the ground, running for 46 yards and a rushing touchdown. His receivers hauled in 22 catches for 280 yards and three touchdowns, and CeeDee Lamb posted his seventh consecutive game with a touchdown catch. With the unveiling of the College Football Playoff Standings on Tuesday evening, Oklahoma knows there’s a marginal shot of being inside the Top 6, so every game–including style points–counts from here on out.

 

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Big 12 Football Fan Reactions: Which teams are trending up, down?

Big 12 Football

It’s hard to believe that the 2018 Big 12 Football season is halfway over. It’s been interesting tracking these teams since the season kicked off in late August, especially considering how extreme the conference has been with coaches on scalding hot seats, and others kicking the 2018 season off with Heisman, and national championship caliber talent, and expectations.

Teams with the lowest expectations coming in have seemingly had the most improvement, while others are right where they should be, making Big 12 Football one of the toughest conferences, with potential for the most unpredictable finales. With plenty of football left to play, it could be Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, or even one of the dark horse teams such as Texas Tech or Iowa State at the Big 12 Football Championship game. While writers get criticized often for their opinions, it’s always important to test the spectrum of the conference on social media to see what others think, too.

With teams still hitting their stride, anything is possible as we enter the final stretch, but the competition is only exploiting weaknesses that are difficult to recover from in the eyes of the CFB Playoff Selection Committee.

With that said, here’s what fans are saying about which teams are trending up, or trending down:

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell started teetering on the hot seat after losing to Oklahoma and a TCU team that’s been struggling. But after defeating No. 6 West Virginia, the Cyclones have proven they have the talent and the fight to make things interesting down the stretch. Quarterback Zeb Noland has shown a lot of promise this season, but with junior running back David Montgomery as the No. 7 ranked all-purpose player through Week 8, don’t expect the Cyclones to drop in consistency. It appears that several fans–even those outside of Big 12 Football agree:

Texas Tech’s defense is trending way up, and it’s showing that athletic director Kirby Hocutt’s 2018 gamble on staying the course with Kliff Kingsbury is paying off. What I mean by that is that three years ago when Kingsbury brought in Strength and Conditioning coach Rusty Whitt and Director of Speed and Power, Scott Salwasser, most people new it was going to take several seasons to recondition the Texas Tech players to become the prototypical athlete Kingsbury envisioned. With defensive coordinator David Gibbs having equal time to develop the defense, it’s fortified the expectations, compared to the turnover and inconsistencies players experienced before the culture was changed.

For some statistical measure, Texas Tech is No. 1 in third down defense, No. 1 in fourth down defense, No. 3 in forced turnovers, the No. 3 scoring defense, and the No. 3 ranked rushing defense. If Texas Tech can get its quarterback depth healthy, they could be morphing into a very lethal team.

Texas is absolutely trending up, and it’s hard to deny that head coach Tom Herman understands that “rebuilding” just isn’t an acceptable excuse when you’re guaranteed blue chips and have a national brand to maintain. While UT still struggles to truly establish an offensive identity, it’s one of those teams that always manages to come up with major defensive plays in critical games. So far, defensive back Kris Boyd is the third-ranked played in the conference in passes defended with 9 breakups and one interception, and safety Caden Sterns has also come up with four interceptions. Texas is allowing just 23 points-per-game, so if they can keep that momentum going, we might see a replay of the Red River Showdown in a few months.

For measure, Oklahoma has a 22 percent chance at making it to the College Football Playoff, but the Sooners will need to win out, bank on Notre Dame losing at some point, and hope the Pac-12 keeps weakening its odds one upset at a time in order to move on–but that’s the less complicated version of the multiple scenarios that could play out. But another point to consider is this: Just what will Oklahoma look like defensively, under interim defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill? Stay tuned.

Big 12 Football is notorious for upsets, high flying offenses, and plenty of coaches on hot seats, or on the non-stop carousel of reshuffling. But the good thing is that there’s still ample time to prove you’re the real deal or turn things around if you’re in a slump.

 

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Big 12 Power Rankings Week 8: Every Game Matters

Big 12 Power Rankings Week 8

Week 7 wasn’t just a crazy week for all of college football; it was a very telling one for the Big 12 Conference. With Iowa State taking down the conference’s only undefeated team, it might have knocked the Big 12 out of the Playoff, but as the conference says, “Every Game Matters,” and that was proven last weekend.

With players emerging as the future for their respective teams, as well as overall play and coaching providing a more solid snapshot of the identity of each team last weekend, Week 7 certainly set the tone for what could create some interesting scenarios as we focus more on December 1–the Big 12 Championship Game in Dallas.

Without further ado, here’s how the teams stacked up last weekend, and what to look for this weekend.

Disclaimer: These Power Rankings are based off WEEKLY observations of games and performances. These are NOT based off an entire body of work on the season. 

10. Kansas

Kansas was on a bye last weekend, but the Jayhawks didn’t go without their share of drama. It was announced last week that offensive coordinator Doug Meacham was OUT, and that head coach David Beaty would be the primary play-caller from here on out. After spending a couple of seasons with TCU, Meacham was hired by Kansas to overhaul the Jayhawks, but as of Week 7, Kansas had the 107th ranked offense in the nation, averaging just 5.29 yards-per-play.

It’s unknown just what Kansas will look like against Texas Tech this weekend, but with the Red Raiders’ defense improving week-after-week, it’s time for the Jayhawks to step up if Beaty is to have a job at the end of the season.

9. TCU

There were high expectations from TCU this season, both offensively and defensively. Heading into Week 1, the Horned Frogs were ranked No. 16 in the nation. Despite losses against Ohio State and Texas, however, the TCU defense was still in the Top 15 nationally, so there was still a possibility to turn the tide, and hope to rely on a high powered defense to win games. Unfortunately against Texas Tech last Thursday, TCU–which was a touchdown favorite at kickoff–was handed its third loss of the season and its second loss in the Big 12.

TCU allowed 353 total yards of offense against the Red Raiders, which is relatively low for Tech’s standards, however, TCU’s offense had three turnovers, including a critical turnover by QB Shawn Robinson on a scramble with just: 43 left in the 4th quarter. A 17-14 score in the Big 12 proves just how much defenses are stepping up, and if TCU can’t rely on its unit to close games out, and with Oklahoma shuffling its defensive identity around with the firing of Mike Stoops, Saturday could be an interesting game in Fort Worth.

8. West Virginia

West Virginia took a massive tumble this week, and with good reason. The Mountaineers were routed 14-30 against an Iowa State team that continues to repeat history year after year, and throttle teams that don’t take them seriously. As a result, Will Grier was immediately thrown on the fringe in Heisman conversation after throwing for just 100 yards and finishing with -33 rushing yards.

Much of the discussion after the ISU game was that several teams had exposed West Virginia’s flaws throughout the season already, but against the Cyclones, those weaknesses just imploded. Whatever is happening with the synergy between the Mountaineers needs to be corrected, and soon, as the schedule won’t get any easier after the bye week.

7. Oklahoma State

Following its 12-31 loss against Kansas State, Oklahoma State has now dropped three of its four Big 12 games, so far. Much like TCU, the Cowboys were predicted to have a strong showing this season, but since facing Texas Tech in Week 4, they’ve now slid to a point where speculation on social media is running rampant as to whether Mike Gundy will even be in Stillwater next season.

The thing about speculation is that unless it’s from a primary source, nothing can be substantiated, but if the Cowboys want to keep it that way, things have to change for OSU and fast. First, Taylor Cornelius had a quarterback rating of just 40.7 against K-State, having thrown for zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Moreover, the Cowboys had just 15 first downs, 311 total yards of offense, and were just 5-15 on third down conversions. Penalties were also an issue, with 7-70 yards. Thankfully, OSU has a much-needed bye this week, as they prepare to face a Texas team that just might be back.

6. Kansas State

Although Kansas State blew out Oklahoma State 31-12 last weekend, the Wildcats still lack an identity, but the win was a confidence boost at a time when teams really need them. The most interesting part about the Wildcats’ game plan, however, is that in a league where passing is king, it’s almost as if OSU didn’t know how to defend the run game K-State was implementing all afternoon. The Wildcats put-up 291 rushing yards to just 130 in the air, with junior running back Alex Barnes accounting for four rushing touchdowns, and three receptions for 51 yards.

While K-State hasn’t been as effective in the passing game,  these metrics certainly give defensive units on K-State’s schedule a blueprint as to what’s working, so that’s definitely something to look at, especially with the Wildcats taking on Oklahoma after their bye this weekend.

5. Baylor

Baylor found its rhythm in the passing game under quarterback Charlie Brewer. Dare I say, this has been Baylor’s most complete team in the Matt Rhule era, and against Texas, the offense certainly showed flashes of what we should grow to expect from here on out.

Against a Texas team without its starting quarterback, perhaps Baylor took advantage of UT’s more limited playbook–especially on defense, where UT was shutout of the end zone the entire second half. The only score that came out of the second half was in the third quarter on a two-yard touchdown run by Jalen Hurd. But the bigger storyline here was that Brewer connected on 20 of 39 passes, throwing for 240 yards and a touchdown. While that might not seem like “Big 12 numbers,” it’s a step in the right direction and indicates that Brewer has Baylor’s offense trending upwards. Baylor has a bye this weekend but will head to Morgantown on Thursday, Oct. 25 to play the No. 13 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers.

4. Iowa State

Iowa State is another team that appears to be trending upward in terms of quarterbacking, and with that talent lying at the talented hands of freshman Brock Purdy, the Cyclones should be in business for a few years. Ames is always a tough venue to play in, and perhaps the Mountaineers got ahead of themselves and forgot just how hard Iowa State plays, but in WVU’s biggest test of the season, the Cyclones throttled the Mountaineers and continues its streak of holding teams well below their usual level of productivity.

Purdy finished the day at 18-25 for 254 yards, three touchdowns, and a single interception. The Cyclones also finished the day with 244 yards rushing, which is a pretty incredible number, especially when you consider how the ISU defense held Will Grier to just 100 passing yards, a single touchdown, and a 16.6 QBR, and limited WVU to just 52 yards in the ground. It could have been worse for the Mountaineers, but with the win, it gives the Cyclones a week to dial as they host Texas Tech after the bye.

3. Texas Tech

Texas Tech really turned a corner this season, defensively. And although the Red Raiders are still allowing chunks of yardage, the red zone stands, forced field goals, and ball-hawking are really making a difference in close games, as was the case in Tech’s 17-14 victory on the road at TCU on Thursday. Tech still ranks at the bottom of the conference in total defense, but Adrian Frye leads the Big 12 in passes defended at 13, and in interceptions at 4. The list also features Demarcus Fields at No. 7 and Douglas Coleman III at No. 18. Tech is also No. 20 in the nation in third-down defensive stops, so with quarterback Alan Bowman still recovering from a partially collapsed lung, the defense has been coming up big.

Quarterback Jett Duffey made some huge plays in the win, including a 62-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Deion High in the third quarter to give Texas Tech the lead, and on a 38-yard keeper for a go-ahead score in the 4th quarter. With TCU driving late in the 4th, TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson had a costly interception while trying to scramble, which Adrian Frye was able to come up with to ice the game.

Texas Tech faces Kansas this week, and with Iowa State the week after, I have a feeling head coach Kliff Kingsbury will be testing some new packages on the Jayhawks in preparation.

2. Oklahoma

The Sooners were on a bye last weekend, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as Big 12 interim journeyman Ruffin McNeill took over duties for Mike Stoops, who was relieved following OU’s loss against Texas in the Red River Showdown. With the Sooners’ defense being the biggest cause of concern over the years, it had many wondering why it took them so long to make a change at defensive coordinator, and it makes you wonder what we can expect from the Sooners moving forward.

In any event, with the way things are going, OU is still stacked and at this point, whoever ends up in Dallas on December 1 is anyone’s guess. But with the Sooners facing a TCU team that can’t seem to cauterize the bleeding this season, it’s time for Kyler Murray to go back to work.

1. Texas

Texas, once again, finds itself at the top of my Power Rankings because they’re undefeated in Big 12 play. Numbers don’t lie, and if you think this team is going to take a vacation now that they’re in the Top 10 for two consecutive weeks, you’re wrong, but maintaining momentum could be a challenge. For starters, starting quarterback, Sam Ehlinger left the game in the first quarter with blood visible on his hand. When he returned to the field, he set his helmet down, picked up a headset, and Shane Buechele finished the game.

Buechele finished the day 20-34 for 184 yards, with a touchdown and an interception in UT’s 23-17 victory over Baylor. The issue here, is that Ehlinger is a true dual-threat quarterback, known for extending plays on the ground and making up for a significant chunk of rushing yards. Ehlinger was diagnosed with a first-degree shoulder sprain, but head coach Tom Herman says he could be throwing by the end of the week.

The Longhorns have a bye this week before going on the road at Oklahoma State on the 27th, which should give Ehlinger ample time to recover, but the bigger concern for UT might be in the kicking game. Since his thrilling game-winning field goal against Oklahoma, Cameron Dicker’s production has decreased, and he finished the day 3/5 on field goals against Baylor. With how close that game was, and with how close several games have been in the Big 12 this season, that’s something the Longhorns have to work on.

Want More? Check out: Unafraid Show’s College Football Top 10 Rankings Week 8: Big Shake-Ups