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Keeping Up With the Conference: Week 9 Power Rankings

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How far does Texas fall following last weekend’s narrow victory over Kansas?

Houston Chronicle

The tiers and caliber of schools in the Big 12 is becoming more clear, with this past weekend helping to paint the season-long picture that is the Big 12 Conference.

Oklahoma remains in a league of their own, destroying most everyone they’ve faced at extreme efficiency.

Meanwhile, the recent Texas tumble the past few weeks has created an interesting second tier of teams, with Baylor and Iowa State also playing like top four teams in the conference.

From five down to seven, you could make an honest argument as to why any one team should be above the other two, or vice versa. And of course at the bottom of the cellar remain West Virginia and Kansas, who have held down those spots the entire season. (Consistency!)

After a narrow win from Texas, where does that leave the Longhorns in this week’s edition of the Big 12 Power Rankings? Was Baylor’s road victory over Oklahoma State and Iowa State’s road victory over Texas Tech enough to push them above the Longhorns? Or did Texas look good enough on offense in their come-from-behind win to reserve their season-long number two ranking?

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 West Virginia, 52-14

Highlight: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but QB Jalen Hurts was very good on Saturday. He completed 16-of]-17 passes for 316 yards and three TDs, and then added 10 carries for 75 yards and two more scores. One of his touchdowns was this impressive 46-yard strike to WR Lee Morris.

Trending: NEUTRAL. Oklahoma continues to pace the Big 12, and will probably continue to do so barring injury or unforeseen circumstances. Their next big date circled on every OU fan’s calendar is Nov. 5th — the unveiling of the first College Football Playoff Rankings.

Next Up: at Kansas State, Saturday 11:00 a.m. Central (on ABC)

2. (14) Baylor Bears [3]

Last week: W at Oklahoma State, 45-27

Highlight: Baylor wrapped up the first half trailing in Stillwater 13-10, with the offense not generating much of anything. After trading scores with OSU to open the second half, Baylor found themselves with a four=-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, playing defense to a dangerous OSU offense. This 20-yard fumble return for a touchdown from Terrel Bernard, however, iced the game for the Bears.

Trending: UP. Just two years removed from a 1-11 season, Baylor continues to win and sits at 7-0. This past victory was their first truly great one on the season, as their game against Oklahoma State goes down on the Baylor resume as a double-digit road victory against a bona fide bowl-bound Cowboys team. They’re off this week, and then face West Virginia and TCU. Could the Bears be 9-0 before their showdown with Oklahoma in Waco on Nov. 16th?

Next Up: off Week 9, vs West Virginia Thursday, October 31st 7:00 p.m. Central (on ESPN)

3. (15) Texas Longhorns [2]

Last week: W vs Kansas, 50-48

Highlight: Having just allowed another touchdown and subsequent two point conversion, Texas trailed by a point and had just 1:11 to work with. QB Sam Ehlinger led a clutch drive down the field, using both his arm and legs to pick up chunk yardage and get K Cameron Dicker into field goal range. The rest is history, as the young kicker nailed the 33-yard field goal as time expired to save Texas from a monumental upset at home.

Trending: DOWN. How good is this team if it takes 50 points to beat Kansas at home? The problems sure don’t lie on the offensive side of the ball — sure, the Longhorns aren’t perfect in that area of the game, but their woeful defense and special teams play have fans questioning everyone from the players to DC Todd Orlando. There have been injuries, but at this point in the season, Texas is running out of time to patch holes and make fixes. With Ehlinger and co. on offense, Texas will have a chance in every game. But with Baylor and Iowa State still threatening for the Big 12’s No. 2 spot, it may take Ehlinger’s A+ game to get Texas back to Arlington.

Next Up: at TCU, Saturday 2:30 p.m. Central (on FOX)

4. (23) Iowa State Cyclones [4]

Last week: W at Texas Tech, 34-24

Highlight: Iowa State’s offense couldn’t be happier that they have found their new starting running back. RB Breece Hall ran wild on the Red Raiders, getting 19 carries but amassing 183 yards and two scores on the ground. While ISU utilized QB Brock Purdy and the passing game to score points in the first half, it was all Hall to salt the game away in the second.

Trending: NEUTRAL. Since going down 20-0 at Baylor on September 28th, Iowa State has outscored their four opponents 142-65. The offense is finally clicking, thanks to steady play from Purdy and the discovery of a bell-cow RB in Hall. There’s still an inkling of doubt with ISU — particularly that their Big 12 wins have come via games against TCU, WVU, and Texas Tech, who are all a combined 3-8 in conference. Their schedule provides this team ample opportunities to make a jump in these rankings, with games against Texas and Oklahoma still remaining.

Next Up: vs Oklahoma State, Saturday 2:30 p.m. Central (on FS1)

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys [5]

Last week: L vs (18) Baylor, 45-27

Highlight: Okie State ran right over the Baylor Bears, with their rushing game going for 281 yards and three scores on just 50 attempts. RB Chuba Hubbard paced the attack, getting a whopping 32 of those carries for 171 yards and two scores. But the most impressive play on the ground came from backup RB LD Brown, who ripped off a 68-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to temporarily give OSU the lead.

Trending: DOWN. A horrendous opening for OSU in Big 12 play, as this loss pretty much officially eliminates them from runner-up contention. The Cowboys remain the ultimate high-ceiling, low-floor team in the conference, as the firepower on offense is hardly matched, but the wildly sporadic play from QB Spencer Sanders (18/32 157 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT) and a porous defense mean this team could beat and lose to almost anyone in the Big 12.

Next Up: at (23) Iowa State, Saturday 2:30 p.m. Central (on FS1)

6. Kansas State Wildcats [8]

Last week: W vs TCU, 24-17

Highlight: Kansas State’s yardage total doesn’t scream exciting, nor should it. The Wildcats only logged 172 yards passing and 94 yards rushing against a good TCU defense. Instead, the Wildcats’ highlight and team MVP goes to their punter, Devin Anctil, who punted seven times, but averaged 49.0 yards per punt.

Trending: UP. The Wildcats scratched and clawed for their first win since beating Mississippi State all the way back on Sept. 14. Despite being out-gained in yards 366 to 266, K-State relied on chunk plays to notch their first conference win.

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

7. Texas Tech Red Raiders [6]

Last week: L vs Iowa State, 34-24

Highlight: The Cyclones really limited the Red Raiders’ offense in this one, not allowing Tech to take the top and rattle off big plays. Texas Tech actually ran the ball much better than they threw it, with the team rushing total of 168 yards coming off of 34 carries. RB SaRodorick Thompson was also responsible for two of the three touchdowns on the day.

Trending: DOWN. The score of the game doesn’t entirely represent how Tech lost. Iowa State held the Red Raider offense to just seven points in the first half, and after going up 20-0, never led by less than 10 points. QB Jett Duffey had a bizarre final stat line of 40/52 on his passing attempts, but only gaining 239 yards through the air for an average of 5.9 yards per completion. This team is talented enough to usurp OSU as the fifth best team in the conference, and they even beat the Pokes head to head. But until Alan Bowman gets back, Texas Tech will remain a bottom-half team.

Next Up: at Kansas, Saturday 6:00 p.m. Central (on FS1)

8. TCU Horned Frogs [7]

Last week: L at Kansas State, 24-17

Highlight: TCU had a much better throwback to 1969 than Texas did last weekend. QB Max Duggan led the way in rushing for the Frogs, racking up 115 yards on just 13 carries, but the whole team was able to move the ball on the ground. TCU ran for 228 yards on just 40 carries — good for an average of 5.7 yards per rush.

Trending: DOWN. TCU’s loss at Kansas State was textbook 2019 TCU, with only 138 yards passing but 228 yards rushing to amount to a whopping 17 points in the losing effort. This was a game the Horned Frogs probably should’ve won, but were out-muscled on special teams and lacked big plays to move the ball down the field quickly. Yet somehow, despite all the negative noise, TCU opened as favorites in their next contest against a ranked Texas team.

Next Up: vs (15) Texas, 2:30 p.m. Central (on FOX)

9. West Virginia Mountaineers [9]

Last week: L at (5) Oklahoma, 52-14

Highlight: WVU could only get 51 yards on the ground, meaning most of the offense had to come from former OU QB Austin Kendall. Though he mostly struggled, going only 15/31 for 182 yards, he did also add two touchdowns on the game to no interceptions. One of those touchdowns was this seven-yard pass to WR T.J. Simmons for WVU’s final points of the afternoon.

Trending: NEUTRAL. Growing pains continue for head coach Neal Brown with a Mountaineer team suffering from attrition and roster turnover. The rushing game is still lacking, but there just isn’t enough talent for the Mountaineers to keep up with a lot of the other Big 12 teams. It’s a good thing WVU notched themselves a win against Kansas, because it’s not looking pretty for their rest-of-season schedule.

Next Up: off week 9, at (14) Baylor Thursday, October 31st 7:00 p.m. Central (on ESPN)

10. Kansas Jayhawks [10]

Last week: L at (15) Texas, 50-48

Highlight: In a surprising back-and-forth affair, Kansas found themselves playing with house money late in the game. After Texas score made the game 47-40 Texas, Kansas received the ball on their own 25-yard line with just 2:47 left to play. With the offense rolling in the fourth quarter, QB Carter Stanley led the Jayhawks 75 yards down the field in just 1:36 to pull within one point of Texas. A gutsy call to go for two was made, and then converted, to give Kansas the 48-47 lead with just over one minute left to go. The whole sequence was enough to quiet all of those in attendance in DKR.

Trending: UP. Ignoring the loss, this was a great bounce-back performance for a Kansas team that recently replaced their offensive coordinator. Kansas averaged 6.6 yards per play against Texas with 310 passing yards and 259 rushing yards, including 190 from RB Pooka Williams. It’s tough not to move Kansas up after a performance like that, but being the only conference-winless team means someone’s got to keep the seat warm on the bottom.

Next Up: vs Texas Tech, Saturday 6:00 p.m. Central (on FS1)

BIG 12 STANDINGS (THROUGH WEEK 8)

Conference record listed first, followed by overall record

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

STAT OF THE WEEK

As ugly as the win feels, it’s great to have such a clutch young player to rely on week in and week out.

PARTING SHOT

Sometimes, the jokes just write themselves.