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Keeping Up With the Conference: Week 12 Power Rankings

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A victory over the Wildcats moves the Longhorns up in the rankings as the Big 12 looks towards Baylor-OU.

Sports Illustrated

Well, we’re here.

Unbeknownst to the majority of us following the Big 12 this year, this whole season has been hurtling on a one-way path to Waco as the undefeated, No. 13 Baylor Bears are set to host the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners in a game that most likely yields the winner a spot in the Big 12 Championship and puts the entire chances of a Big 12 playoff team on their shoulders.

They should re-name the Big 12 Championship the I-35 Bowl, since it looks like all roads to the championship will go through Waco.

Besides that game, which is obviously deserving of the most hype and intrigue among the five conference games taking place this weekend, Texas will head to Ames in their bi-annual road trip to Iowa State. Thankfully, this game is being played at 2:30 p.m. Central, and Texas avoids a seriously spooky matchup in a night time game in Ames against an Iowa State that just fell two yards shy of taking down Oklahoma in Norman. Instead, they’ll get your standard spooky game at Iowa State, in a game that Vegas favors the Cyclones in by seven points.

With plenty to look forward to this weekend in the biggest weekend for the Big 12 so far, let’s recap last weekend with this week’s version of the BON Power Rankings.

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]

**Projected Final Records are taken using a blend of ESPN FPI and S&P+, and take home field advantage into consideration**

1. (13) Baylor Bears [1]

Last week: W at TCU, 29-23 (3OT)

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Current Record: [6-0, 9-0]

Projected Final Record: [8-1, 11-1]

Trending: DOWN. Another week, another game that Baylor survives to stay undefeated. The shtick on Baylor is getting a little stale — they have a well above average defense that keeps them in games, but a pedestrian offense that doesn’t allow Baylor to go up big or pull away equals a team that has seen five of their nine wins end in one-score games. And yet, despite playing down to their competition or failing to impress by blowing out their opponents a la Oklahoma, Baylor finds themselves with a chance to defeat said Oklahoma on the prime-time stage this weekend. A win would clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game for the Bears, while a loss means that next week’s showdown versus Texas could be for a trip to Arlington.

Next Up: vs (10) Oklahoma, Saturday, November 16th 6:30 p.m. Central (on ABC)

2. (10) Oklahoma Sooners [2]

Last week: W vs Iowa State, 42-41

Current Record: [5-1, 8-1]

Projected Final Record: [8-1, 11-1]

Trending: NEUTRAL. Oklahoma looked poised to stomp out the Cyclones throughout numerous moments in their game last Saturday, building up a double digit lead early and holding large leads through most of the game. It looked like OU was going to annihilate Iowa State in revenge of their first loss of the season, but then the Sooners allowed ISU back into the game, getting outscored 20-0 in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma needed an interception on a failed two-point conversion attempt to keep their faint playoff hopes alive, and the Sooners just missed out on taking over the top spot of these power rankings after Baylor’s near-loss. However, the potential Round 1 of Oklahoma vs. Baylor will take place this weekend, and the Sooners can retake the top spot if they can live up to their Vegas billing (10 point favorites at Baylor) and take down the undefeated Bears.

Next Up: at (13) Baylor, Saturday, November 16th 6:30 p.m. Central (on ABC)

3. (19) Texas Longhorns [4]

Last week: W vs (24) Kansas State, 27-24

Current Record: [4-2, 6-3]

Projected Final Record: [5-4, 7-5]

Trending: UP. It looked like nothing new for Texas to start the game. Despite coming out of the bye healthier, and a well documented and talked about focus on defense and play calling, the Longhorns found themselves down 14-0 early after failing to generate any offense while allowing K-State to move the ball with ease. As the game progressed, Texas picked it up on all sides of the ball, and though the score was close and came down to a final play, the Longhorns’ second half performance resulted in outscoring the Wildcats 20-10 in the half score to finish the game with a three-point win. In fact, Texas ended up beating the Cats in most every significant statistical category in this game, including total yards (477-304), first downs (24-17), and time of possession (31:19-28:41). If Texas’ defense can play like the did in the second 30 minuted of this game, and if Texas can run the ball (214 yards and two scores) like they did in this game, they can play with and beat anyone. Only question is — will they?

Next Up: at Iowa State, Saturday, November 16th 2:30 p.m. Central (on FS1)

4. (24) Kansas State Wildcats [3]

Last week: L at (19) Texas, 27-24

Current Record: [3-3, 6-3]

Projected Final Record: [5-4, 8-4]

Trending: DOWN. Kansas State fell just short of pulling off the upset win in Austin, falling to Texas at the hands (or, rather, foot) of a time-expiring field goal to lose 27-24. After jumping out to an early 14-0 lead, the offense sputtered from the second quarter on and through most of the second half, as the Wildcat defense allowed Texas to score the next 24 unanswered points. The Wildcats will look to bounce back following the loss, but with a manageable remaining slate (WVU, Texas Tech, Iowa State at home) the Wildcats can still pick up some more wins and get themselves to a good bowl game. It’s been an impressive first year in the FBS and Power 5 football for coach Chris Klieman.

Next Up: vs West Virginia, Saturday, November 16th 2:30 p.m. Central (on ESPN)

5. (22) Oklahoma State Cowboys [5]

Last week: off Week 11

Current Record: [3-3, 6-3]

Projected Final Record: [5-4, 8-4]

Trending: NEUTRAL. The Cowboys had the week off, and head towards the final quarter of the season riding a modest two game, 34-27 win streak. For the Cowboys, their MO has been, and always will be, to simply outscore their opponent. 30 seems to be the magic number for the Pokes, as OSU averages 37.1 points per game on offense, but gives up 29.3 points on average per game. In fact, Okie State is undefeated (5-0) this year when holding their opponent to under 30 points in a game. To end the season, they’ll take their vaunted offense up against some of the worst defenses the Big 12 has to offer, with games against Kansas, West Virginia, and Oklahoma making up their rest-of-season schedule.

Next Up: vs Kansas, Saturday, November 16th 11:00 a.m. Central (on FS1)

6. Iowa State Cyclones [6]

Last week: L at (10) Oklahoma, 42-41

Current Record: [3-3, 5-4]

Projected Final Record: [6-3, 8-4]

Trending: NEUTRAL. Iowa State came thiiiiis close to pulling off the Upset in Norman, Round II. The Cyclones trailed by 21 points at three different points in their game, including entering the fourth quarter, and could’ve folded during any of those times. Instead, Iowa State scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter that culminated in a touchdown with 24 seconds left and all the momentum in the game. Head coach Matt Campbell elected to go for two after the score, but QB Brock Purdy threw an interception after being rushed back out of the pocket. This loss was Iowa State’s fourth on the year and third in conference, pretty much eliminating them from Big 12 title contention. But those four losses have all been one score games, with three of those losses being decided by two points or less. That caveat, as well as Iowa State’s outstanding offensive and defensive efficiencies, are why FPI and S&P+ see the Cylcones running the table rest-of-season.

Next Up: vs (19) Texas, Saturday, November 16th 2:30 p.m. Central (on FS1)

7. TCU Horned Frogs [7]

Last week: L vs (13) Baylor, 29-23 (3OT)

Current Record: [2-4, 4-5]

Projected Final Record: [4-5, 6-6]

Trending: NEUTRAL. TCU played Baylor close, but came up short after three overtimes and fell to the visiting Bears. QB Max Duggan continues to play like a freshman, with the occasional moonlighting as a competent starter performance. This performance was another rough one for him, though, ending the day 14/32 for 140 yards with one touchdown to three interceptions. Head coach Gary Patterson has stuck with Duggan for most of the season, and that’s likely to continue this weekend in a must-win match up against Texas Tech. This is a must win for both teams’ bowl berth chances, especially for TCU — the Frogs will need to go at least 2-1 to finish the season, and still have a road game against Oklahoma left on their docket.

Next Up: at Texas Tech, Saturday, November 16th 11:00 a.m. Central (on ESPN2)

8. Texas Tech Red Raiders [10]

Last week: W at West Virginia, 38-17

Current Record: [2-4, 4-5]

Projected Final Record: [2-7, 4-8]

Trending: UP. Texas Tech had a big bounce-back victory at West Virginia versus the struggling Mountaineers, and thus keep their slim bowl-berth hopes alive. Their loss to Kansas on October 26th looks like it has a good chance of being a devastating one for the Red Raiders, as they still need two more wins to reach bowl eligibility. Tech has two winnable games immediately coming up, with home games against TCU and Kansas State on deck. ESPN’s FPI gives Texas Tech a 46% chance and a 43% chance in those respective contests, but doesn’t look so favorably on their final game of the season — a road trip to DKR on Black Friday — giving that match up versus Texas just a 24% chance of going Tech’s way.

Next Up: vs TCU, Saturday, November 16th 11:00 a.m. Central (on ESPN2)

9. Kansas Jayhawks [9]

Last week: off Week 11

Current Record: [1-5, 3-6]

Projected Final Record: [1-8, 3-9]

Trending: NEUTRAL. The Jayhawks had an off week, and come out of their bye to play in what could be a shootout in Stillwater against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Les Miles’ first season in Lawrence has been a net positive even though Kansas might not improve on their win-loss record from last season’s 3-9 mark.

The Jayhawks have, without a doubt, the toughest remaining schedule of any Big 12 team, with road games at OSU and K-State awaiting them before returning home to face Baylor for the season finale. Of course, it’s usual for Kansas to have the hardest schedule in the conference — Kansas can’t play Kansas, after all.

Next Up: at (22) Oklahoma State, Saturday, November 16th 11:00 a.m. Central (on FS1)

10. West Virginia Mountaineers [8]

Last week: L vs Texas Tech, 38-17

Current Record: [1-5, 3-6]

Projected Final Record: [1-8, 3-9]

Trending: DOWN. Not many positives coming out of Morgantown, and their latest loss now gives them five in a row. The offensive issues have been well documented here in previous editions of the power rankings, and at this point it’s looking like West Virginia’s most recent victory — a 29-24 win over Kansas way back on September 21st, may end up being their final win of the season. After this weekend’s game at Kansas State, the Mountaineers face off against Oklahoma State and TCU.

Next Up: at (24) Kansas State, Saturday, November 16th 2:30 p.m. Central (on ESPN)

BIG 12 STANDINGS (THROUGH WEEK 11)

Conference record listed first, followed by overall record

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

PROJECTED BOWL GAMES

Here’s where the conference is slated to go bowling this year:

Sugar Bowl (Big 12 vs SEC) - (10) Oklahoma vs (5) Alabama

Cotton Bowl (At-Large vs Group 5 Champ) - (13) Baylor vs (18) Memphis

Alamo Bowl (Big 12 vs Pac 12) - (19) Texas vs Washington

Camping World Bowl (Big 12 vs ACC or ND) - (24) Kansas State vs (16) Notre Dame

Texas Bowl (Big 12 vs SEC) - (22) Oklahoma State vs Texas A&M

Liberty Bowl (Big 12 vs SEC or At Large) - Iowa State vs UCF

First Responder Bowl (Big 12 vs Big Ten) - TCU vs Michigan State

PARTING SHOT