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Keeping Up With the Conference: Iowa State rolls West Virginia edition

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The Big 12 heads for the home stretch as the season reaches its second half.

Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mark it down, people, we’re halfway through with having to keep up with the Big 12 and the three out-of-conference schools that were on the Texas Longhorns schedule this year. To celebrate this achievement (both for me writing these and for you, somehow choosing to read these), we’re going to do this week’s column a little bit different.

In case you haven’t been “keeping up with the conference,” normally this column features both highlights and the current trending direction of each team in the Big 12, as well as Maryland, Tulsa, and USC. These features usually allow for a pretty lengthy article, given that it typically covers and provides analysis on all twelve teams.

Since only seven of those schools played last weekend, (and, more importantly, since only OU and Tech had any positive highlights to write about) I’ve decided to forego the highlights portion of KUWTC this week, and focus more on the trend part.

So, what’s the best way to go all in on discussing the trends each team on the Texas schedule?

You guessed it, a line graph.

Oh yeah, here at Burnt Orange Nation, we’ve got only the best visuals that a 23 year old with Microsoft Excel and a limited proficiency with computers can get you.

Underneath is a graph detailing each team’s trend line from the preseason to right now.

Rivaling the graphics departments from ESPN and Fox Sports, this BON Exclusive Chart was made by me and took way too much time

Make note, that there are no real number values associated with this rankings. Because the trend goes in only three directions, (UP, DOWN, NEUTRAL) the teams start to the far left are based on their perceived quality and difficulty to Texas should they play that week.

As an example, that’s why Tulsa, who lost last weekend 23-0 at previously 0-6 Arkansas, is slated towards the bottom. Whereas Oklahoma, who trounced TCU in Fort Worth by the score of 52-27, is towards the top.

Don’t sleep on the remainder of the Texas schedule, though, as three teams in the top five of the trend graph (including two “risers” in Iowa State and Texas Tech) lie ahead for the Longhorns.

Down the chart you’ll see some empty weeks coming up. That’s because I’ll be updating this graph each week, just to give some kind of a visual to the madness that is college football.

In other words, this should be fun to keep track of and watch, but don’t let my silly little rankings system fool you. In order for Texas to realistically make an NY6 bowl, or even the CFP, they’ll have to run the table and finish at 12-1. And given what’s left on our schedule, that may be tough to do.

Every opponent Texas has left is formidable. Well, except maybe Kansas. (fingers crossed)

BIG 12 STANDINGS (through Week 8)

  1. (6) Texas (4-0) (6-1)
  2. (8) Oklahoma (3-1) (6-1)
  3. (13) West Virginia (3-1) (5-1)
  4. Texas Tech (3-1) (5-2)
  5. Baylor (2-2) (4-3)
  6. Iowa State (2-2) (3-3)
  7. Kansas State (1-3) (3-4)
  8. Oklahoma State (1-3) (4-3)
  9. TCU (1-3) (3-4)
  10. Kansas (0-4) (2-5)

BIG 12 BREAKDOWN

(8) Oklahoma

Week 8: W at TCU, 52-27

Trending: UP. Oklahoma will move into the second half of their schedule without DC Mike Stoops, who was fired following the 48-45 loss against the Longhorns. We’ll get to watch and see what good a change in coaching has done, as OU plays Kansas State this weekend. So far, so good.

(13) West Virginia

Week 8: BYE

Trending: NEUTRAL. The Mountaineers arguably have the toughest remaining schedule of any Big 12 contender. After Thursday night’s game against Baylor, WVU will alternate away and home games with Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma. The combined record for what lies ahead sits at 23-12.

EDIT: WVU welcomed Baylor into their home Thursday night, and then proceeded to ruthlessly destroy the Bears to the tune of a 58-14 score. The Mountaineers held a 41-0 lead at halftime and forced Legendary non-UT-scholarship recipient Charlie Brewer out of the game with a 1/8 and 3 INT passing performance. WVU heads to Austin next weekend.

Texas Tech

Week 8: W vs Kansas, 48-16

Trending: NEUTRAL. Texas Tech, with a surprisingly (at times) formidable defense, is continuing to grow into a Big 12 Championship game contender. A big test lies ahead of them this weekend, with a road trip to Ames to face Iowa State. The loser of this game will most likely see their hopes at a top-two finish die, so it should be a great game with high stakes.

Baylor

Week 8: BYE

Trending: NEUTRAL. Baylor has been a moderate surprise, given what they were last year. Coach Matt Rhule seems to have begun to right the ship in Waco, and has the Bears positioned for a run at a bowl berth. Baylor will head to Morgantown this week for a tough Thursday night road game against WVU.

EDIT: Having initially written this a few days ago, I still would have predicted a Baylor loss. But never would I have predicted this kind of a blowout. WVU played angry but good Baptist-centric God, that was horrific on all sides of the ball. Baylor looks to get back on track with a game against OSU next weekend.

Iowa State

Week 8: BYE

Trending: NEUTRAL. I’ve said it the last two weeks, but I truly believe that Iowa State has a chance to play spoiler in Texas’ quest to make the Big 12 Championship Game. QB Brock Purdy has totally changed this team, and they’re eviscerating opponents left and right. The Big 12 game of the week is in Ames this weekend, with a real “loser leaves town” type game against fellow potential spoiler Texas Tech.

Kansas State

Week 8: BYE

Trending: NEUTRAL. The most boring team in the Big 12 not named Kansas, K-State got off to a dismal start but ended the first half with a win over Okie State. The offense will need to drastically improve if this team wants any shot at making a bowl game, but don’t count out the Wildcats just yet. The Purple Wizard always finds a way.

Oklahoma State

Week 8: BYE

Trending: NEUTRAL. Possibly the most disappointing team thus far has been Oklahoma State, who limps into the second half with just a 4-3 record amidst preseason “dark horse second in the Big 12” aspirations. It doesn’t get any easier for the Cowboys, either. While WVU may have the hardest schedule for a Big 12 Championship game contender, OSU has the hardest remaining schedule. Left to play is Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, WVU, and TCU. There’s a non-zero chance this team misses a bowl game with that upcoming stretch.

TCU

Week 8: L vs Oklahoma, 27-52

Trending: DOWN. TCU’s defense finally caved last week against the vaunted Oklahoma Kyler Murrays. It’s truly been an up and down year for Patterson and the Frogs, as TCU can’t seem to put to wins together to escape sitting at .500. Oh, you mean they’re below .500 right now? My how the tables have turned.

Kansas

Week 8: L at Texas Tech, 16-48

Trending: DOWN. It’s pretty well known Kansas is the cellar dweller of the Big 12 when it comes to football. That being said, they’ve shown competitiveness and have hung around in games they had no business to do so this year. This game was not one of those.

Out-of-conference observations

Maryland (4-3)

Week 8: L at Iowa, 0-23

Trending: DOWN.

Tulsa (1-6)

Week 8: L at Arkansas, 0-23

Trending: DOWN. I’m writing this for both teams here in that I feel wronged having to have to look through highlights from these two games for anything remotely usable for Maryland or Tulsa. (Spoiler, there wasn’t anything) Maryland gets Illinois in what should be a bounce back game for them, but if you’re expecting anything from Tulsa this year, this has to be a win on Saturday, as they’re actually favored by ESPN’s FPI to beat Tulane this weekend.

USC (4-3)

Week 8: L at (23) Utah, 28-41

Trending: DOWN. So it looks like USC just can’t get back into the top 25. A road win vs Utah would’ve certainly assured that, but the Trojans just couldn’t stay with the Utes and lost their third game of the year. They remain our only real hope of someone knocking off Notre Dame, so we will continue to be closeted USC fans this one season only.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

Texas strength of schedule — 44-38 (.537)

Strength of opponents played 25-24 (.510)

Strength of remaining opponents — 19-14 (.576)

WHO TO WATCH

With Texas firmly in the competition for a New Year’s Six Bowl game, and even in the conversation for a College Football Playoff appearance, it’s important to keep tabs on the teams above or near Texas that aren’t on the schedule that could still impact the Texas postseason destination.

Here’s the short list of games this week that Texas fans should tune into: (ESPN FPI projected winner in BOLD, % chance to win in brackets)

(2) Clemson [90.8%] at Florida State — (11:00 AM CT, ABC)

(9) Florida at (7) Georgia [69.8%] — (2:30 PM, CBS)*

(3) Notre Dame [97.7%] at Navy — (7:00 PM CT, CBS)

*game played in Jacksonville, Florida

Ignoring what, on paper, look like two easy match-ups, the Florida - Georgia game would pretty much eliminate a school from CFP and even the NY6 pictures. The school to cheer for here is Florida. Aside from them being the underdog in this game, their remaining schedule is considerably easier than Georgia’s schedule, and thus provides less chances to jump Texas in the polls. This, as well as that most anyone in the country would currently label Georgia as the better team.

LOOK AHEAD

Week 9 Schedule (ESPN FPI projected winner in BOLD, % chance to win in brackets)

Baylor at (13) West Virginia [83.1%] (game on Thursday night)

(6) Texas [52.0%] at Oklahoma State

Texas Tech at Iowa State [50.5%]

TCU [77.6%] at Kansas

Kansas State at Oklahoma [94.0%]

Illinois at Maryland [87.2%]

Tulane at Tulsa [50.1%]

Arizona State at USC [63.2%]

PARTING SHOT

These are the videos you get to put out when you’re 6-1. Glad to see Jelly Beans made it back into the Charlie Strong “NO SNACKS ZONE” locker room.