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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Want more? Check out: Unafraid Show’s College Football Top 10 Rankings Week 10: New Sheriff in Town