The Big 12 sustained quite the shakeup with the outcome of the Red River Showdown. And while that shakeup could have lasting results on the conference as a whole, it’s anyone’s guess how Oklahoma will battle through adversity. In any event, if the Sooners were looking for a potential competitor for the Big 12 Championship, the Longhorns stepped up in a big way, and we could be looking at a repeat in Dallas.
With Texas Tech and TCU having bye weeks, Week 8 should be set up for a more telling story as to how the Big 12 could play itself out for the rest of the season, but with Week 7 already in the books, here’s how the Big 12 Power Rankings Week 7 turned out.
The Jayhawks might be looking at a 2-4 record, but that’s not the whole story. In their 22-38 loss last weekend at West Virginia, Kansas’ defense had the most significant impact, with five sacks, 10 tackles for loss, three interceptions, and one fumble recovery. The Jayhawks knew Will Grier was turnover prone and took advantage when they could.
While Kansas still struggles to establish a legitimate offense, scoring 22 points on a good West Virginia defense is an uptick in the right direction for David Beaty’s squad. With Texas Tech in Lubbock on 10/20, this bye week should help with their film study.
9. Kansas State
Following its 37-34 loss at Baylor last weekend, Kansas State is now on a three-game losing skid, and it might not get any easier. While K-State managed to tie the game against Baylor at 34-34 apiece and under 4:30 to play, the Wildcats just couldn’t get a critical stop, which allowed Baylor kicker Dalvin Warmack to kick a game-winning field goal.
While once again, the loss highlighted K-State’s continued deficiencies, the offense had a good game, with quarterback Skyler Thompson throwing for 149 yards and a touchdown, and running back Alex Barnes finishing the day with 250 yards on the ground for three touchdowns. It shows that despite terrible special teams play if K-State can continue scraping by, offensively, they could keep games close. Against an equally struggling Oklahoma State team at home this weekend, the Wildcats have to get it together this week.
8. Oklahoma State
The Cyclones showed, once again, that Oklahoma State is in trouble this season. The Cowboys show improvement one week, then go backwards the following week. And against Iowa State, that was proven once again.
Offensively, OSU was great, starting with quarterback Taylor Cornelius, who connected on 19 of 33 passes for 289 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception. Cornelius also scored a rushing touchdown and finished with 46 rushing yards. Six receivers got touches, and minus a negative play by senior punter Zach Sinor, the Cowboys had 126 yards on the ground.
Iowa State was struggling to find an identity, so this loss has to sting a bit, but with Cowboys looking for a rebound, an equally struggling K-State team this week on the road will present challenges. But if OSU can etch out a win before hosting Texas on the 27th, they’ll have forward momentum they desperately need in Big 12 play.
7. Iowa State
Iowa State pulled off a much-needed win against a ranked Oklahoma State team last weekend, and as previously mentioned, with struggles to establish an identity this season, this win couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
After the win, Cyclones’ head coach Matt Campbell said, “I’m really proud of our football team today.” With David Montgomery out with an injury, Brock Purdy stepped up in a big way, completing 18-23 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns. The performance certainly had the conference’s attention, and if the Cyclones can continue improving, it should make for an interesting season.
TCU made headlines during their bye week when news broke that they were allegedly preparing to face Texas Tech by watching film from the Kansas City Chiefs. The reason being, TCU head coach Gary Patterson wants to dissect the similarities between how Tech and the Chiefs utilize RPOs, which can only help its struggling defense prepare, and add some technique to its offense. With just a few weeks to prepare for Texas Tech’s continually reinvented offense, however, it’s anyone’s guess as to how this aggressive film study will go for the Horned Frogs.
Another story that came out of Ft. Worth this week, was within the quarterback position, where Patterson said injured quarterback Shawn Robinson would play, but not necessarily start. With that said, there are plenty of things to follow on Thursday, as TCU hosts the Red Raiders.
Baylor kicker Connor Martin had a rough day, but after missing three field goal attempts and an extra point against K-State last weekend, with just: 08 seconds left in regulation, Martin split the uprights to give the Bears the win, and a 4-2 record.
The Bears showed a lot of promise and grit in this win, but if they want to continue to grind this season out on a positive note, they need to learn to finish drives. Thankfully, the were able to rely on their secondary to keep K-State out of the end zone, and more importantly, the offense was able to turn those takeaways into points. Baylor also controlled the time and tempo in its 37-34 victory, but converting on 10 third-down attempts, Baylor should have run the score up.
With Texas this weekend, that might be harder to accomplish, but then again, this is the Big 12.
4. Texas Tech
The Texas Tech Red Raiders dodged a serious bullet when quarterback Alan Bowman sustained a partially collapsed lung during a brutal hit against West Virginia. After spending a few days in the hospital, Bowman is back with the team and participating in practices. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury hasn’t specified whether Bowman will play on Thursday against TCU. However, it is suspected that all three quarterbacks will make the trip and suit up.
3. West Virginia
Quarterback Will Grier is back to throwing turnovers, and at some point, it’s going to catch up to him. In West Virginia’s 38-22 win over the Kansas Jayhawks last weekend, Grier had four touchdowns, and as many turnovers–including three interceptions. While 509 total yards of offense is impressive, the West Virginia defense only had one QB hurry and just three sacks against Kansas. Those are things Tony Gibson has to stress, especially in November.
While Oklahoma lost last weekend, you can’t forget that the Sooners’ offense mounted a 21-point comeback in the 4th quarter, and was one defensive stop away from sending the Red River Showdown to overtime. Unfortunately, that defensive stop merely kept the Longhorns out of the end zone, not between the uprights.
The bigger issue for the Sooners is how they’ll respond following the abrupt firing of defensive coordinator, Mike Stoops. While the defensive leadership will be replaced by Ruffin McNeill on an interim basis, that doesn’t change the fact that OU defenders haven’t been successful this season on tackling in space, or limiting explosive plays. Moreover (and as Big 12 history will tell us), if McNeill isn’t chosen as the Sooners’ full-time defensive coordinator at the end of the season, could this mean an entire defensive rebuild in 2019?
There are plenty of questions that remain, but with the Sooners facing TCU after the bye, they have some time to try and figure some things out.
It’s hard to deny the Longhorns weren’t the best team in the Big 12 conference last weekend. Texas entered the Red River Showdown as a major underdog, and not only did the ‘Horns shut out Heisman frontrunner Kyler Murray from producing double-digit points in two quarters, “Dicker the Kicker” became a household name on a 40-yard field goal to give head coach Tom Herman his biggest marquee win, so far.
With the Longhorns’ 48-45 victory, it catapulted them from the No. 19 spot in the AP Poll to No. 9. And with Baylor just beginning to establish a rhythm, expect a Texas team on Saturday looking to stifle that.
Want More? Check out Red River Showdown: Texas-Oklahoma earn highest FOX Sports TV ratings