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Keeping Up With the Conference: Week 11 Power Rankings

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Where do the Longhorns stand in the Big 12 as they hit the home stretch of their season?

Austin American-Statesman

With almost half of the conference on bye last week, chaos took a backseat to normalcy, as all three of the Big 12 matchups gave us winners that Vegas, ESPN, SB Nation, pretty much everyone on earth expected.

Sure, there was a pretty big hiccup along the way (Baylor beat WVU by just how many points?) But in the end, Week 10 got us where we all thought we were going. Now, the attention shifts to a Week 11 that’s chock full of big games that carry significant ramifications for the rest of the season.

Texas looks to rebound against a red-hot Kansas State team, as each team vies for the chance at the Big 12 Championship in Arlington.

Oklahoma looks to make amends for their surprising loss to said red-hot Kansas State, and keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive against an Iowa State team also needing a win to make it to Arlington.

Baylor looks to keep their undefeated season rolling in a road game against a TCU team needing wins to make a bowl berth.

But most importantly, Texas Tech squares off against WVU in Morgantown in the “Loser Comes in Dead Last in the Big 12 Bowl.”

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. (12) Baylor Bears [1]

Last week: W vs West Virginia, 17-14

Current Record: [5-0, 8-0]

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

Trending: DOWN. This was a messy win. I’m sure Baylor fans will chalk this one up to poor weather, but the Bears had a week and a half to prepare for a home game in front of a loudly supportive crowd, against a cellar-dweller in WVU, and they let this game come down to the final drive? The Bears defense balled out, and it continues to show week in and week out that it’s the best in the conference. But this offense can be so pedestrian and cautious at times, that it severely hamstrings this team’s chance at winning. We haven’t seen it yet, but picturing Baylor’s offense trailing late in the game is something that I’m not sure turns out well for them.

Next Up: at TCU, Saturday, November 9th 11:00 a.m. Central (on FS1)

2. (9) Oklahoma Sooners [2]

Last week: off Week 10

Current Record: [4-1, 7-1]

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

Trending: NEUTRAL. Nothing doing for the Sooners, who took the bye week to sulk on their loss and potentially ruined CFP hopes. The only way the Sooners can make it to the playoff is to get some help from the eight teams above them, to win out, and to most importantly have the other Big 12 contenders (Baylor, K-State, Oklahoma State, and Texas) play well. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, though, as OU would also need to win convincingly against these schools, and with none of them having much of a résumé out of the conference, it means a big loss to OU would most likely sink the school in the CFP rankings. OU is in a tight spot — one they probably won’t get out of.

Next Up: vs Iowa State, Saturday, November 9th 7:00 p.m. Central (on FOX)

3. (16) Kansas State Wildcats [3]

Last week: W at Kansas, 38-10

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

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

Trending: NEUTRAL. The Wildcats took care of business in taking out their in-state rival at their own house. Though Kansas shouldn’t pose as an immediate threat or serve as a landmark victory, winning the games you should win, and doing it comfortably, is a great sign of a good, well-coached, and well-executing team. The Wildcats face their last true tough test in a road game at Texas. If the Cats can out-duel the Horns, then they’re just one OU loss away from moving up to second in the Big 12.

Next Up: at Texas, Saturday, November 9th 2:30 p.m. Central (on ESPN)

4. Texas Longhorns [4]

Last week: off Week 10

Current Record: [3-2, 5-3]

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

Trending: NEUTRAL. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the Longhorns. Much of Longhorn Nation is down on this team, and it’s understandable — to a degree. Much of this team’s shortcomings can be attributed to injuries in key positions, especially the defensive backfield. As mentioned earlier this week on Burnt Orange Nation, this a prime recipe for disaster.

Yet after weeks of being off the playing field, Texas should see a significant number of these contributors return for their game against Kansas State. Of course there’s more-than-questionable coaching decisions and the offense has sputtered a bit as of late. But assuming Texas can field a defense that more closely resembles their preseason unit for the rest of this season, then the Longhorns have as good a shot as any to rebound well and make the Big 12 Championship.

Next Up: vs Kansas State, Saturday, November 9th 2:30 p.m. Central (on ESPN)

5. (23) Oklahoma State Cowboys [5]

Last week: W vs TCU, 34-27

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

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

Trending: UP. An important win for the Cowboys vaulted them into a somewhat surprising 23rd spot in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. But with All-Conference WR Tylan Wallace out for the season with a knee injury, the offensive burden now rests on the bruising shoulders of RB Chuba Hubbard. Hubbard has been more than capable this season, with 1,604 rushing yards to his name, but will he be enough to carry a team that ranks 103rd in the nation in total defense?

Next Up: off Week 11, vs Kansas, Saturday, November 16th (Time and Network TBD)

6. Iowa State Cyclones [6]

Last week: off Week 10

Current Record: [3-2, 5-3]

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

Trending: NEUTRAL. Iowa State is another team coming off a bye week, and another team that entered their bye coming off a loss. The Cyclones had hopes of playing in the Big 12 Championship this season, but after getting off to a 3-2 record with games still left against Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas State, going undefeated the rest of the way seems dubious. They’ll need a big upset in Norman in order to get back on track to make the Big 12 Championship. Good thing for them, they’ve got a bit of a blueprint on how to do that.

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

7. TCU Horned Frogs [7]

Last week: L at (23) Oklahoma State, 34-27

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

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

Trending: DOWN. QB Max Duggan reverted back to a pumpkin last weekend, more so resembling a true freshman QB than the one that lit up Texas two weeks ago. The initial stat-line doesn’t read too bad, with 21/39 for 251 yards passing and 68 yards rushing making for a pretty good yardage total of 319 yards. But it’s the three interceptions — after throwing just one prior all season — that killed TCU in this game. The Frogs head back home to face Baylor, where they’ll have to have a much better game from Duggan if they want to beat a much, much better Bears defense.

Next Up: vs (12) Baylor, Saturday, November 9th 11:00 a.m. Central (on FS1)

8. West Virginia Mountaineers [9]

Last week: L at (12) Baylor, 17-14

Current Record: [1-4, 3-5]

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

Trending: UP. The only team moving up in the rankings this week is West Virginia, following their moral victory in Waco last Thursday. This team still has a plethora of issues on offense, as the running game is non-existent (WVU ranks 128th out of 130 schools in total rushing offense) and is dragging down their already mediocre passing game (WVU also ranks 120th in total offense). Their defense is respectable, and managed to keep them in a game against a much better Baylor team. But the offensive drought is what limits this team.

Next Up: vs Texas Tech, Saturday, November 9th 11:00 a.m. Central (on ESPN2)

9. Kansas Jayhawks [8]

Last week: L vs Kansas State, 38-10

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

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

Trending: DOWN. Kansas is back to earth after their big loss at home to Kansas State. With the worst defensive unit in the Big 12 (ranked 122nd in the nation), the Jayhawks are giving up an average of 473.2 yards per game to opposing teams. Kansas may be fun again, and the success they’ve had this season rivals any of the past ten years. But they really only have chances against other teams with bad defenses that allow them to play in a shootout. Texas and Texas Tech, for example, were winnable for Kansas. Kansas State? Not so much.

Next Up: off Week 11, at Oklahoma State, Saturday, November 16th (Time and Network TBD)

10. Texas Tech Red Raiders [10]

Last week: off Week 10

Current Record: [1-4, 3-5]

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

Trending: NEUTRAL. Holding onto the bottom spot through their bye week, Texas Tech has suffered through a season filled with injuries, awful luck, and just downright stupid plays and decisions. This team is occasionally capable of playing close games against good teams, like they did against Baylor in their double overtime affair. But they’re also capable of losing to the worst of the worst, such as two weeks ago against Kansas. There is good news, though, for Texas Tech fans — their basketball team should provide another solid season.

Next Up: at West Virginia, Saturday, November 9th 11:00 a.m. Central (on ESPN2)

BIG 12 STANDINGS (THROUGH WEEK 10)

Conference record listed first, followed by overall record

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

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

Camping World Bowl (Big 12 vs ACC) - (16) Kansas State Wildcats vs Virginia

Texas Bowl (Big 12 vs SEC) - Texas vs Mississippi State

Liberty Bowl (Big 12 vs SEC or At Large) - (23) Oklahoma State vs (25) SMU

Cheez-It Bowl (Big 12 vs Pac 12) - Iowa State vs Washington State

First Responder Bowl (Big 12 vs Conference USA) - TCU vs Louisiana Tech

PARTING SHOT

Undeniably, the highlight of the week for all of Longhorn Nation: