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Keeping Up With the Conference: Week 13 Power Rankings

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A near upset, an actual upset, and a Texas-killing sized field goal make for a dynamic Week 12 recap in the power rankings

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With “Big 12” Week 12 behind us, the projection for who will be playing in the conference title game has become much more clearer. And if it’s anything like last weekend’s showdown, then we could be in for a real treat.

Baylor and Oklahoma didn’t disappoint from an entertainment perspective, as Oklahoma needed a late go-ahead field goal to cap off the comeback and reclaim the top spot in the Big 12 standings.

Elsewhere, the Mountaineers pulled off a big upset over Kansas State in Manhattan. Meanwhile Texas juuust couldn’t get going fast enough to take down Iowa State in Ames. I’m sure you may have heard about that one.

After seven conference games, two breakaway teams are tied for first in the conference at 6-1. The rest of the top five rounds out to a three-way tie for third, with Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and Texas all at 4-3, all having gone 1-1 against each other, making for a nice little mess in the middle of the standings.

A reminder that the Power Rankings are not meant to reflect the current standings. They’re based on a combination of season performance, heavily weighing more recent games, and 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. (9) Oklahoma Sooners [2]

Last week: W at Baylor, 34-31

Current Record: [6-1, 9-1]

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

Trending: UP. Never in doubt. Despite giving up 31 points in the first half and falling behind 28-3 midway through the second quarter, Oklahoma put together a perfect second half on both sides of the ball in order to squeak out a victory in Waco. With Baylor now in the Sooners’ rear view, this team looks poised to return to Arlington to play for the Big 12 title yet again. Also, keep an eye on QB Jalen Hurts’ Heisman candidacy, as he’s in the clear for at least a top four finish and trip to New York.

Next Up: vs TCU, Saturday, November 23rd 7:00 p.m. Central (on FOX)

2. (14) Baylor Bears [1]

Last week: L vs (9) Oklahoma, 34-31

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Current Record: [6-1, 9-1]

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

Trending: NEUTRAL. In their first true tough test of the season, Baylor raced out to a huge lead over Oklahoma. The stage was set for a nationally televised coming out party for the Bears, but ultimately Baylor couldn’t hang on as Oklahoma stormed back from a 31-10 halftime deficit, downing the Bears for their first loss on the season. Baylor’s weaknesses, that have been well documented here on BON, came back to bite them, as the Bears failed to generate much offense (just 307 yards of total offense and 18:49 of possession time), it ultimately gassed the defense and allowed Oklahoma to run wild over the Bears as the game closed out. Make no mistake, the Bears’ defense is elite, and it’s what helped them get so many points due to short fields. But the lack of explosiveness on offense finally caught up to and doomed the Bears in this one.

Next Up: vs Texas, Saturday, November 23rd 2:30 p.m. Central (on FS1)

3. (21) Oklahoma State Cowboys [5]

Last week: W vs Kansas, 31-13

Current Record: [4-3, 7-3]

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

Trending: UP. Currently sporting the Big 12’s longest winning streak at a whole three games, you could make the case that Okie State is the hottest team in the conference. Their offense has become much more efficient in recent weeks, as the loss of WR Tylan Wallace has forced the Pokes to rely on All-American candidate RB Chuba Hubbard to carry the load. They’ve been flying under the radar as of late, but if they take care of business against West Virginia this weekend, they’ll have all eyes on Stillwater as Bedlam comes to town to end the season.

Next Up: at West Virginia, Saturday, November 23rd 11:00 a.m. Central (on ESPN2)

4. (22) Iowa State Cyclones [6]

Last week: W vs Texas, 23-21

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

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

Trending: UP. The Cyclones finally pulled out a close one, defeating Texas at their own game with a last second field goal. With what is by far the easiest remaining schedule among the Big 12’s top half of teams (Kansas and a reeling K-State), and a defense that has played well almost everywhere, it’s not inconceivable to see Iowa State wind up as the conference’s third place team.

Next Up: vs Kansas, Saturday, November 23rd 11:00 a.m. Central

5. Texas Longhorns [3]

Last week: L at (22) Iowa State, 23-21

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

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

Trending: DOWN. An ill-timed jump into the neutral zone during an Iowa State field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter ultimately ruined Texas’ comeback hopes, as the Cyclones were able to run out the clock from there and kick the game winner as time expired. After a narrow victory against Kansas State kept their Big 12 title hopes alive, a narrow loss against Iowa State all but buries them. Much like this season, a slow start was too much to overcome. Even if Texas wins out, people will remember the slow start if Texas fails to go to the Big 12 Championship game and the Sugar Bowl.

Next Up: at (14) Baylor, Saturday, November 23rd 2:30 p.m. Central (on FS1)

6. Kansas State Wildcats [4]

Last week: L vs West Virginia, 24-20

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

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

Trending: DOWN. The win over Oklahoma feels like ages ago, as two straight losses have bounced the Wildcats down to sixth in the power rankings and the conference standings. Their loss to West Virginia is the second biggest upset of the season in the Big 12, ranking only behind their own win over OU. Now officially eliminated from the Big 12 title, K-State needs to focus on getting back on track in their final two games (Texas Tech and Iowa State) and getting to a good mid-tier bowl game - something that felt like a given just two weeks ago.

Next Up: at Texas Tech, Saturday, November 23rd 6:00 p.m. Central (on FS1)

7. TCU Horned Frogs [7]

Last week: W at Texas Tech, 33-31

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

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

Trending: UP. While a victory over Texas Tech may not seem like much, TCU scored a much needed win in their quest for bowl game qualification. Four field goals from their kicker helped the Frogs prevail over Tech in Lubbock, and now TCU only needs to win one of their final two games (Oklahoma and West Virginia) to gain bowl eligibility. Like most games for TCU this year, it was an ugly win. But TCU has shown most weeks that they’re a tough out, and a real thorn in the side of anyone they play.

Next Up: at (9) Oklahoma, Saturday, November 23rd 7:00 p.m. Central (on FOX)

8. Texas Tech Red Raiders [8]

Last week: L vs TCU, 33-31

Current Record: [2-5, 4-6]

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

Trending: NEUTRAL. Tech fell on the short end of things in this one, dropping a much needed game at home against TCU to fall to 4-6 on the season. It’s not impossible for the Red Raiders to win out to reach 6-6, as their remaining schedule (Kansas State, Texas) has gotten less and less intimidating over the past few weeks. But it’s still unlikely that we see Texas Tech in a bowl game this year — ESPN FPI gives the Red Raiders just an 11-percent chance at winning out.

Next Up: vs Kansas State, Saturday, November 23rd 6:00 p.m. Central (on FS1)

9. West Virginia Mountaineers [10]

Last week: W at Kansas State, 24-20

Current Record: [2-5, 4-6]

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

Trending: UP. An impressive win from the Mountaineers keeps the West Virginia bowl game dreams alive. The road win over then-ranked Kansas State was a huge surprise to many following the game and the teams. It was an ugly win, but the Mountaineer defense held the Wildcats at bay and forced two turnovers in the victory. West Virginia has a tough road ahead of them to become bowl eligible — ESPN FPI gives the Mountaineers just a four-percent chance of winning out over Oklahoma State and TCU. But at least for this week, WVU can take solace in knowing that they aren’t the only team to be mathematically eliminated from bowl game contention yet.

Next Up: vs (21) Oklahoma State, Saturday, November 23rd 11:00 a.m. Central (on ESPN2)

10. Kansas Jayhawks [9]

Last week: L at (21) Oklahoma State, 31-13

Current Record: [1-6, 3-7]

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

Trending: DOWN. And that team that has been eliminated, is the Kansas Jayhawks. In fact, one more loss this season will clinch a tenth place Big 12 finish for Kansas, which would be the fifth straight year of coming in last. The last time KU finished in any position better than tenth was their ninth place finish after the 2014 season. That year, Iowa State took the mantle for worst Big 12 team — and ironically, that’s who gets to play Kansas this upcoming weekend.

Next Up: at (22) Iowa State, Saturday, November 23rd 11:00 a.m. Central

BIG 12 STANDINGS (THROUGH WEEK 12)

Conference record listed first, followed by overall record

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

PROJECTED BOWL GAMES

Texas fans can find where all of the internet thinks the Longhorns are going with this link here. As for the rest of the conference, here’s where the Big 12’s best is slated to go bowling this year:

Sugar Bowl (Big 12 vs SEC) - (10) Oklahoma vs (6) Georgia

Alamo Bowl (Big 12 vs Pac 12) - (13) Baylor vs Washington

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

Texas Bowl (Big 12 vs SEC)* - Texas vs Kentucky

Liberty Bowl (Big 12 vs SEC or At Large) - (22) Oklahoma State vs UCF

Cheez-It Bowl (Big 12 vs Pac 12 or MWC) - Kansas State vs Utah State

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

*Note: The Texas Bowl is played between two teams representing the Big 12 and the SEC. Typically, this game is played between the Big 12’s fourth place finishing team, and the SEC’s eighth place team. There is a chance that Texas could finish in fourth in the Big 12, and that the SEC’s eighth place team would be none other than... Texas A&M — that’s actually what I have projected at the time of this article’s publication.

However, because the Texas Bowl is a mid tier bowl game that pretty much only exists to be plugged into an open TV spot during bowl season, both the Big 12 and SEC have responsibility in assigning teams to all the mid and low tier bowl games, including this one. And I can guarantee you that the boosters, athletic departments, and conferences representing these two schools will do everything in their power to make sure the much anticipated return of the Texas vs. A&M game doesn’t happen in a bowl game a punter won MVP in two season ago.

PARTING SHOT