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Keeping Up with the Conference: Week 8 Power Rankings

After suffering their first conference loss, where does Texas now stand in the Big 12?

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Sports Illustrated

Week 8 of the college football season finally gave us what many have been waiting for — Texas vs Oklahoma. Unfortunately for Longhorns fans, Texas couldn’t defeat the Land Thieves this time around, falling short 34-27 in the Cotton Bowl.

But that wasn’t the only conference game to take place this past weekend. With more than half the conference in action, most of the Big 12 schools have now completed half of their regular season games.

We know you were probably busy watching and then mourning/gnashing your teeth at the Texas loss, but, as is the case every week, there’s plenty more that went down in the Big 12 this past weekend.

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. (5) Oklahoma Sooners [1]

Last week: W vs (11) Texas, 34-27

Highlight: Oklahoma enforced their will upon Texas in this game, totaling up over 500 yards of offense while restraining the vaunted Longhorn offense to just 310 yards and sacking Ehlinger nine times. QB Jalen Hurts had a deadly connection with WR CeeDee Lamb, as the two connected 10 times for 171 yards and three scores. One of those touchdowns came via a 51 yard flea flicker that gave OU a third quarter lead that they wouldn’t give up.

Trending: UP. The game wasn’t as close as the score indicates, as OU allowed a late touchdown to make it a seven point game. Oklahoma boasts the nation’s top overall offense, averaging 621.7 yards per game — a whole 60 yards more than second place LSU. The unfortunately surprising part of Saturday’s game was the show their defense put on in stifling the Texas running game and sacking Ehlinger nine times. If their defensive line can play like that in most games, Oklahoma immediately becomes a favorite for a College Football Playoff appearance.

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

2. (15) Texas Longhorns [2]

Last week: L vs (6) Oklahoma, 34-27

Highlight: After a lackluster performance on offense that only amounted to three points in the first half, the Longhorns needed a spark on offense to get back into the game. QB-turned-RB Roschon Johnson provided that jolt, touching the ball 12 times and getting 118 yards through the air and on the ground. Most of those yards came on this drive in the third quarter, which ended in a score to pull Texas even with OU.

Trending: NEUTRAL. You can point to a lot of different areas and complain or argue that Texas was exposed, which is what a considerable amount of other sites (such as Baylor’s SBN site) are doing. S&P+ also seems to think Texas shouldn’t be as high as the second best team in the conference, slotting them in as the Big 12’s fourth best team. However, the issue with S&P+ is that wins are heavily weighted — of which Texas doesn’t have much of considering where they’re ranked.

Another component for Texas remaining at two is that LSU and Oklahoma are the two best teams anyone in this conference has played, by far. Lastly, considering the injury timelines many key Longhorn contributors received are nearing an end or have ended, there is optimism that the two Texas losses are not indicators of future losses, but instead losses to two high-quality and potentially playoff-bound teams. Texas may not have had their best game this past weekend, and they still lost by a single score. Make no mistake — Oklahoma is the Big 12’s best team. But with some better luck in the health department moving forward, Texas should easily make their run at the Big 12 Championship game and get a second chance at OU.

Next Up: vs Kansas, Saturday 6:00 p.m. Central (on LHN)

3. (18) Baylor Bears [3]

Last week: W vs Texas Tech, 33-30 (2OT)

Highlight: Despite entering the game as 10.5 point favorites, Baylor found themselves with their backs against the wall late in the fourth quarter, trailing 20-17 with just 1:37 left. A huge last-minute drive from the Bears resulted in a field goal as time expired to force overtime, where Baylor again had their backs against the wall after surrendering a field goal in the second overtime. RB JaMycal Hasty put the game away for good with this five-yard touchdown in the second overtime to give Baylor their sixth win on the season.

Trending: NEUTRAL. The Bears are serving as a sort of enigma this year, with so many people questioning the validity of their 6-0 record on the season. I’ve always been high on Baylor this season, and they’ve always placed in the top half of these rankings even dating back to the preseason. But the Bears non-conference schedule belongs in the SEC new school manual on how to schedule a cupcake opening month.

Their Big 12 wins are good (Iowa State, K-State, and Texas Tech), but outside of K-State (who may not make it to a bowl game this year) their two wins have been razor-thin close escapes at home. Brewer is a game-managing QB, and with their defense that should win them plenty more games. I’m just not seeing how this team will able to compete against the likes of Oklahoma and Texas, who Baylor won’t see until back-to-back weeks at home in late November. Until then, it’s okay to respect the Bears. Fearing them still seems like a stretch.

Next Up: at Oklahoma State, Saturday 3:00 p.m. Central (FOX)

4. Iowa State Cyclones [4]

Last week: W vs West Virginia, 38-14

Highlight: Iowa State started the game off slow, just as they’ve done through most of the season. But Iowa State started to turn to the run and wear out West Virginia, and RB Breece Hall had monster game running the ball for the Cyclones. On 26 carries he logged 132 yards and three touchdowns — one of which came on this run that put up Iowa State for good in the game.

Trending: UP. At long last, there’s a willing participant to play running back in Ames. If Breece can continue as the bell-cow back while producing solid yards on the ground, the Iowa State offense jumps up a couple notches with the addition of a ground game. They’ve got a solid defense, reliable QB, and good head coach at the helm to round out what should be a rock solid team capable of beating anyone in the conference.

Next Up: at Texas Tech, Saturday 11:00 a.m. Central (on FS1)

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys [5]

Last week: Bye

Trending: NEUTRAL. A well-timed bye for a Cowboys team that has lost two of their last three games and sit at 1-2 in the Big 12. Despite having two of the most electrifying skill position players in RB Chuba Hubbard and WR Tylan Wallace, this team’s offense has sputtered at times with inconsistent QB play from Spencer Sanders. A huge conference game awaits this team coming pout of their bye, as OSU will welcome Baylor to Stillwater this Saturday.

Next Up: vs (18) Baylor, 3:00 p.m. Central (FOX)

6. Texas Tech Red Raiders [7]

Last week: L at (22) Baylor, 33-30 (2OT)

Highlight: In a back-and-forth contest in Waco, Texas Tech played exceedingly well against a stingy Bears defense. The Raiders racked up over 500 yards of offense in the contest, and they kept their foot on the gas even as the game entered overtime. QB Jett Duffey threw a not-so-great pass that resulted in an incredible touchdown catch from WR T.J. Vasher to tie up the game and force a second overtime.

Trending: UP. It’s hard for me to move a team up the power rankings after a loss, especially over an idle team. But you also won’t find a tougher loss this season than what Texas Tech went through last weekend in Waco. A despicable missed call in the first OT of this game resulted in taking a Baylor turnover off the board, and taking away Texas Tech’s best chance at a win. In recent weeks, this team has looked dangerous with Duffey at QB. It’s entirely possible the Tech offense has found their footing and is turning the corner on the season.

Next Up: vs Iowa State, Saturday 11:00 a.m. Central (on FS1)

7. TCU Horned Frogs [6]

Last week: Bye

Trending: NEUTRAL. This bye came at a good time for TCU, and Gary Patterson’s team can catch their breath after an up-and-down start to their season. Their offense has faltered at times, as it totally relies on their running game to establish any kind of rhythm. At 3-2, and with Oklahoma, Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma State still left on their schedule, they’ll have to make the most of their opportunities in winnable games to make a bowl game, like their game this Saturday versus Kansas State.

Next Up: at Kansas State, 1:30 p.m. Central (TBD)

8. Kansas State Wildcats [9]

Last week: off week 7

Trending: NEUTRAL. Following a 3-0 start to the season, K-State currently sits at 3-2 after opening up Big 12 play with two losses. This team has to make the most of opportunities in winnable games, however, with Oklahoma and Texas still on their schedule.

Next Up: vs TCU, 1:30 p.m. Central (on FSN)

9. West Virginia Mountaineers [8]

Last week: L vs Iowa State, 38-14

Highlight: WVU lost starting QB Austin Kendall to injury early in this game, which predictably resulted in a poor offensive performance from the Mountaineers. The defense provided a highlight play early in the game, as a pass got pinballed around and turned into a pick-six interception for WVU to open up scoring in the game.

Trending: DOWN. Kendall wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, but any chance at an upset win against a quality team like ISU was thrown out the window once he went down. It’s just been reported that eh’s expected to go against his old team, Oklahoma, this Saturday. But they’re going to need an all-time performance from him if they expect to keep up with Oklahoma — their rushing offense ranks 124th out of 130 teams in the nation.

Next Up: at (5) Oklahoma, Saturday 11:00 a.m. Central (on FOX)

10. Kansas Jayhawks [10]

Last week: off week 7

Trending: NEUTRAL. Kansas spent their off-week by getting themselves familiar with new offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon. For the Jayhawks, a change in offensive direction could do them well — they only average 354.5 yards per game (103rd in the nation).

Next Up: at (15) Texas, 6:00 p.m. Central (on LHN)

BIG 12 STANDINGS (THROUGH WEEK 7)

Conference record listed first, followed by overall record

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

STAT OF THE WEEK

In honor of the University of Texas throwing it back this weekend to honor the 150th anniversary of college football and the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Championship team, here are some stats on one of the greatest teams in NCAA history.

QB James Street gets a quick bit of coaching from Darrell Royal during the 1970 Cotton Bowl
Texas Sports
  • The 1969 Texas Longhorns went 11-0 on the season, defeating their opponents by an average score of 39.5 - 10.8.
  • The Longhorns opened up the season ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll, and never fell below No. 2 following their second game of the season.
  • Following the invention of the Wishbone offense, Texas ran the ball on average 68.4 times per game to averaging just 13.3 passing attempts per game. The Longhorns averaged 363 yards on the ground to just 109.1 yards in the air per game.
  • QB James Street led the Longhorns in passing, going 40/81 for 699 yards and throwing three TDs to 10 INTs. Rushing was a different story, with 11 different Longhorns logging at least 20 carries on the year. While there were only five touchdowns scored via passing, Texas rushed for 56 touchdowns.
  • On December 6, 1969, the No. 1-ranked Texas Longhorns took on the No. 2-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In what was dubbed “The Game of the Century” the Longhorns escaped with a 15-14 victory.
  • On January 1, 1970, Texas completed their perfect season with a 21-17 victory over No. 9 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. This game, as well as The Game of the Century, were the only two games Texas failed to win by double digits.
  • Despite the 1969 Championship and dominating victories, the team only featured one All-American — future College Football Hall of Famer OL Bob McKay.
  • ESPN ranks the 1969 national champions as the 17th-best team in the history of college football. 247 Sports also had the team at 17th in their rendition of the top teams of all time.

PARTING SHOT