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Keeping Up with the Conference: Week 6 Power Rankings

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The power rankings may be late, but they are never wrong.

Guns up for the Red River Shootout
Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, the day we’ve all been waiting for.

After six weeks in the college football books, the young has season has hit an early crescendo, as Texas meets Oklahoma in Dallas for the annual Red River Showdown game.

At last, the game of the conference each and every year is here. No. 1 vs No. 2 in the Big 12, squaring off in that sweet early-day primetime spot with Gus Johnson screaming through our TV sets after every big play. But what exactly is at stake? For the winner, a huge advantage for the rest of the season in the race to Arlington to play in the conference championship game. And for the loser? You can most likely kiss those College Football Playoff hopes goodbye.

Will Lincoln Riley best Tom Herman yet again, and will Jalen Hurts punch in another great footnote in what is shaping up to be a Heisman-worthy season?

Or will Tom Herman get revenge from the last time these two teams played, with Sam Ehlinger and company repeating as Red River champions?

We can only eagerly wait to see.

A reminder that the power rankings are not meant to reflect the current standings. They’ll be based on a combination of season performance, heavily weighing more recent games, and will take into consideration opponent quality compared to the rest of the conference.

BIG 12 POWER RANKINGS

Previous week ranking is in [BRACKETS]

1. (6) Oklahoma Sooners [1]

Last week: W at Kansas, 45-20

Highlight: QB Jalen Hurts continued to be an efficient leader on offense, but it was the Oklahoma rushing attack that put this game out of reach. Oklahoma averaged 7.2 yards per rush, and that includes a loss of 20 yards on a carry by WR Cee Dee Lamb. The longest carry of the game came from RB Rhamondre Stevenson, who touted the ball 61 yards for a touchdown.

Trending: NEUTRAL. Finally, Oklahoma will get its first real test of the season in their yearly showdown in Dallas with Texas. The Sooners offense will be dynamic, but what about their defense? It’s tough to get a read on them given the lack of competition they’ve faced, but just looking at the numbers, OU has a better total defense (346.4 ypg) by nearly 100 yards than Texas (441.8 ypg).

Next Up: vs (11) Texas, Saturday 11:00 a.m. Central (on FOX)

2. (11) Texas Longhorns [2]

Last week: W at West Virginia, 42-31

Highlight: After a bit of a slow start, Texas was able to pull away late in the game to defeat WVU on their own home turf. QB Sam Ehlinger found his groove late, as he led three touchdown scoring drives to cap off the win. One of those drives resulted in this awesome gadget play to offensive lineman Sam Cosmi, who rumbled, bumbled, and stumbled his way in for a score.

Trending: NEUTRAL. After forcing four interceptions, Texas has to be feeling at least a little better about their defense amid all the injuries and questions. That may be the key to defeating the Sooners, as their high flying offense is yet again one of the nation’s best, averaging 643.8 yards and 53.4 points per game. Ehlinger and the offense can help by limiting turnovers and sustaining long drives. It should be a good one this year at the greatest rivalry game in all of sports.

Next Up: vs (6) Oklahoma, Saturday 11:00 a.m. Central (on FOX)

3. (22) Baylor Bears [4]

Last week: W at Kansas State, 31-12

Highlight: Baylor picked up their fifth win on the season using a balanced offensive attack and shutting down the Wildcats on defense. RB John Lovett outscored the Wildcats on his own, scoring twice on just 7 carries to go with 74 yards rushing. One of those carries was this 46-yard run that put the game out of reach.

Trending: UP. An underrated team through and through, with each win the Bears accumulate the more respect they’ll earn. QB Charlie Brewer leads the Bears and is proving doubters wrong, with the fourth most TD passes (11) in the Big 12 while throwing zero interceptions on the year. With Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and TCU making up their next four games, it wouldn’t be crazy to see a 9-0 or 8-1 Baylor after that stretch.

Next Up: vs Texas Tech, Saturday 3:00 p.m. Central (TBD)

4. Iowa State Cyclones [6]

Last week: W vs TCU, 49-24

Highlight: QB Brock Purdy was firing on all cylinders against TCU, leading Iowa State to a much needed win. The QB threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns, but added a whopping 102 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, carrying the ball just 12 times. A lot of those yards came on one drive, in which Purdy carried the ball down the filed before firing a pass off for a touchdown.

Trending: UP. The Cyclones have been more up and down this season than a playground seesaw during recess. But it’s becoming apparent that this team goes as Purdy goes. Against what is normally a very stout TCU defense, Purdy had an impressive show of offense and played the main role in their demolition of TCU. After losing RB David Montgomery to the NFL this offseason, there was speculation as to who would step up on Iowa State as the team’s best and leading rusher. After this week’s performance, it’s hard not to have Purdy as that answer.

Next Up: at West Virginia, Saturday 3:00 p.m. Central (on ESPN)

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys [3]

Last week: L at Texas Tech, 45-35

Highlight: As they tend to do, Oklahoma State put up a ton of points in the loss. RB Chuba Hubbard was at the center of most of these scores, putting up 156 yards rushing and three scores.

Trending: DOWN. There’s still a lot to like with Okie State — Hubbard leads the nation in rushing and is the only RB with over 1,000 yards on the season (1,094), while WR Tylan Wallace is third in the NCAA in receiving and leads all Power-Five schools in that category. But their defense is bad. And QB Spencer Sanders doesn’t look like he can always keep up when games get into shootouts — the more he’s asked to throw, the more reckless he gets. His three interceptions and two fumbles in this game highlight that reality.

Next Up: off Week 7, vs (22) Baylor, 10/19 3:00 p.m. Central (FOX)

6. TCU Horned Frogs [5]

Last week: L at Iowa State, 49-24

Highlight: TCU was forced to throw late in the game, which provided WR Jalen Reagor plenty of chances to put himself on a highlight reel. He put up just 69 yards receiving and caught just 4 passes, but two of those went for touchdowns — including this snag late in the third quarter.

Trending: DOWN. TCU got beat in every way possible last week, even coach Gary Patterson admitted it. Coming into their game, TCU averaged 275.2 rushing yards a game. On Saturday, Iowa State held the Frogs to just 63 before being forced into throw-and-catch-up mode. The blueprint to beat the Frogs is clear and obvious — force them to throw.

Next Up: off Week 7, at Kansas State, 10/19 1:30 p.m. Central (TBD)

7. Texas Tech Red Raiders [8]

Last week: W vs (21) Oklahoma State, 45-35

Highlight: In a game totaling 80 combined points, it was hard to pick out a single great highlight to show. However, luckily for us, QB Jett Duffey was an absolute highlight reel, putting on a show against the Cowboys. Duffey threw for 424 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for 16 yards and another score.

Trending: UP. A shock to many, Texas Tech held down Oklahoma State for most of the game. Duffey was amazing in this one, and the rushing attack was able to tire out the Cowboy defense and let Texas Tech control this game. A big win for a reeling Texas Tech squad, they’ll look to take down another ranked Big 12 foe with a road game against (22) Baylor.

Next Up: at (22) Baylor, Saturday 3:00 p.m. Central (TBD)

8. West Virginia Mountaineers [9]

Last week: L vs (11) Texas, 42-31

Highlight: QB Austin Kendall stuffed the stat sheet on Saturday, throwing for 367 yards and three touchdowns against the visiting Longhorns. One of those touchdowns was this long bomb to wideout Sam James that opened up scoring for the Mountaineers.

Trending: UP. A lot of good and a lot of bad from the Mountaineers this past weekend, who move up in the power rankings primarily due to K-State’s poor performance. Kendall is still a work in progress — he’s at times looked more than just serviceable this year, and even had some great plays against Texas that helped WVU keep it close through a large chunk of their loss against the Longhorns. But he’s wildly inconsistent and just “off” too often, and his four interceptions in this game give him seven on the year.

Next Up: vs Iowa State, Saturday 3:00 p.m. Central (on ESPN)

9. Kansas State Wildcats [7]

Last week: L vs Baylor, 31-12

Highlight: Kansas State was shut down for much of this game, scoring their first touchdown more than midway through the fourth quarter. After a long nine-play, 67-yard drive, QB Skylar Thompson found WR Dalton Schoen for an always exciting five-yard score.

Trending: DOWN. When the local big-city newspaper names your team’s punter as game MVP (for the second game in a row, no less) you can expect to see your team with a DOWN trending designation. After starting the season 3-0, back-to-back double digit losses have soured almost all of the early season optimism. The team lacks play makers and talent at the skill positions — a recipe for disaster now that we are well out of non-conference play. In Big 12 games, K-State is averaging just 12.5 points per game, while allowing 28.5 on defense. Chris Klieman’s team hits their bye week to regroup before facing TCU in the Purple Bowl.

Next Up: off week 7, vs TCU, 10/19 1:30 p.m. Central (TBD)

10. Kansas Jayhawks [10]

Last week: L vs (6) Oklahoma, 45-20

Highlight: Kansas struggled keeping up with Oklahoma in this game, but that didn’t leave the Jayhawks without a few big plays. QB Carter Stanley threw for only 230 yards, but he also added three touchdowns on the day. One of those was to WR Daylon Charlot, who hauled in a 22-yard pass for a touchdown late in the first quarter.

Trending: NEUTRAL. An expected result for the Jayhawks, who reside in their familiar confines of the basement in Big 12 play. Their win at Boston College seems forever ago, as three straight losses since then mark the Jayhawks as the conference’s only team with a sub-.500 record (2-4). Their latest loss forced Les Miles’ hand in firing his offensive coordinator. The growing pains continue in Lawrence, KS.

Next Up: off week 7, at (11) Texas, 10/19 6:00 p.m. Central (LHN)

BIG 12 STANDINGS (THROUGH WEEK 6)

Conference record listed first, followed by overall record

  1. (22) Baylor Bears [2-0, 5-0]
  2. (6) Oklahoma Sooners [2-0, 5-0]
  3. (11) Texas Longhorns [2-0, 4-1]
  4. Iowa State Cyclones [1-1, 3-2]
  5. TCU Horned Frogs [1-1, 3-2]
  6. Texas Tech Red Raiders [1-1, 3-2]
  7. West Virginia Mountaineers [1-1, 3-2]
  8. Oklahoma State Cowboys [1-2, 4-2]
  9. Kansas State Wildcats [0-2, 3-2]
  10. Kansas Jayhawks [0-2, 2-4]

STAT OF THE WEEK

Another statistical feat for Sam Ehlinger,

And a great graphic highlighting the weight of the Red River Rivalry.

PARTING SHOT