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Around the Horn: Big 12 Power Rankings Week 6

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With half the conference in action last week, Texas takes a tumble out of the top five.

Austin American Statesman

Four teams were off last week, which put a larger spotlight on the conference’s game of the week — the Red River Showdown. As expected, the game between Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners came down to the wire and even needed to be settled in four overtimes. While the game had a thrilling conclusion, its outcome — for this particular site, at least — was not desirable.

The stinging loss to Oklahoma bumps Texas to 2-2 on the year, out of the AP Poll, and most likely out of any kind of College Football Playoff picture. It’s also cast a serious cloud over Texas’ Big 12 title goal, and even more importantly, coach Tom Herman’s future on the Forty Acres.

In an offseason marred with COVID cases and missed practice, this year was bound to feature chaos and upsets. But even the most pessimistic Longhorns fans expected this team to look and play better than the 2-2 record they’ve earned so far. There’s still more than half the season left in front of us and the talent on this team is capable of better results, but time may be running out for the Horns to right their ship.

In other news in the conference, the other games very much went as expected, with a blowout in the Iowa State and Texas Tech game, and a close, gritty defensive battle in TCU vs K-State. After another week of college football, here’s how the Big 12 Power Rankings stand.

BIG 12 POWER RANKINGS

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.

Last edition’s ranking is in [BRACKETS]

1. (7) Oklahoma State Cowboys [1]

Last week: Bye Week

Trending: NEUTRAL. The Cowboys were off last weekend, and by virtue, retain their top spot in the power rankings. And with most of the conference off this week, it looks like they’ll keep this ranking for next week, too. The Pokes were slated to play the Bears this weekend, but a COVID outbreak at Baylor will give OSU another weekend off. That just means another week for starting quarterback Spencer Sanders, who has missed OSU’s last two games with an ankle injury, to get healthy.

Next Up: vs (20) Iowa State, Saturday, October 24th 2:30 p.m. Central (on FOX)

2. (20) Iowa State Cyclones [2]

Last week: W vs Texas Tech, 31-15

Trending: UP. Going up against a much inferior Texas Tech squad at home, the Cyclones did what everyone thought they would and took care of business against the Red Raiders. It was an all-around solid performance from ISU, with the Cyclones totaling over 500 total yards of offense while limiting Tech to just 270 yards. Quarterback Brock Purdy had his best statistical game of the year, throwing for 302 yards and adding two scores while also running for 42 yards. Running back Breece Hall put on another show with 135 yards rushing and another two scores. But Iowa State’s defense absolutely shut down the Texas Tech attack in this game, allowing just eight points in garbage time (seven of the Red Raiders’ 15 points came via a blocked field goal return for a touchdown). Before second and third stringers came out to end the game, ISU surrendered only 97 yards passing to Alan Bowman and under 50 yards rushing. If the Cyclones can keep playing defense like this against other top-tier offenses, then you’ll see this team in Arlington playing for the Big 12 Title come December.

Next Up: at (7) Oklahoma State, Saturday, October 24th 2:30 p.m. Central (on FOX)

3. (22) Kansas State Wildcats [3]

Last week: W vs TCU, 21-14

Trending: NEUTRAL. The Wildcats escaped their game with a win last weekend, but unfortunately they lost starting quarterback Skylar Thompson for the season. His absence from Saturday’s game was noticeable, as replacement quarterback Will Howard, a true freshman, went just 8-of-19 passing for 117 yards and one interception. He did add 86 yards rushing and a touchdown on the game, but 80 of those yards came on a single play. The lack of passing game affected the rushing game as well, as K-State totaled just 92 rushing yards outside of the 80-yard run — a far cry from the 198 yards they put up in their previous game. Yes, the TCU defense is good. And K-State’s defense is good enough to keep them in most games they play. But the loss of Thompson will limit this K-State team moving forward.

Next Up: vs Kansas, Saturday, October 24th (Time TBD, on FS1)

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4. TCU Horned Frogs [4]

Last week: L vs Kansas State, 21-14

Trending: DOWN. Coming off a big win on the road against Texas for their first win of the year, the Horned Frogs couldn’t keep their momentum going last week against a depleted K-State team. Though the Horned Frogs defense played well, TCU struggled to pick up yards through the air. Quarterback Max Duggan totaled just 197 total yards, including just 154 yards passing. The rushing attack was spread out among seven different ball carriers, and TCU did pick up 189 yards and their two scores on the ground. Unless TCU can re-capture the magic they had moving the ball down the field in chunk plays against Texas, this team will struggle to score points against the better defenses in the Big 12.

Next Up: vs Oklahoma, Saturday, October 24th 11:00 a.m. Central (on ABC)

5. Oklahoma Sooners [6]

Last week: W vs (22) Texas, 53-45 (4OT)

Trending: NEUTRAL. After two straight blown leads and disappointing losses for the Sooners, it looked like this game had the potential to be the third in a row after Texas scored the game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. But the Sooners were able to hold on in four overtimes, snapping their skid by knocking off their biggest rival. The much-maligned Sooner defense played well for a majority of this game, holding the Longhorns to just 17 points through 56 minutes of game time and getting a decent amount of pressure on opposing quarterback Sam Ehlinger. On the other side of the ball, quarterback Spencer Rattler was benched during the first half for poor play, but came back to play well and ultimately lead the team to victory. It’s a wide-open year for the Big 12, and OU has its flaws — and plenty of them. But with head coach Lincoln Riley, you just can’t ever count this team out of the Big 12 title race.

Next Up: at TCU, Saturday, October 24th 11:00 a.m. Central (on ABC)

6. Texas Longhorns [5]

Last week: L vs Oklahoma, 53-45 (4OT)

Trending: DOWN. Another heartbreaking loss for Texas has booted the team out of the AP Poll Top 25, and soured many fans on the current coaching regime. Any hope that this team conjured up preseason is now dead and it’s hard to see the path in which Texas can salvage their season. Yet again, a late offensive push from the Horns was too little, too late, though it did end up taking four overtimes to finally put this game away. Ehlinger had another box score stuffed game, but the bigger story is the poor situational play calling and abysmal special teams play. These two factors, despite all of the flaws, have kept Texas from a 4-0 record. The Horns are off this weekend, but after their bye, it only gets tougher from here on out with the top four teams in these power rankings still remaining on their schedule.

Next Up: vs Baylor, Saturday, October 24th 11:00 a.m. Central (on ESPN)

7. West Virginia Mountaineers [7]

Last week: Bye Week

Trending: NEUTRAL. The Mountaineers have gotten off to as good a start as they could have hoped for, coming out of their bye with a 2-1 record. You can only play who’s on your schedule, but those two wins coming against two cellar-dwelling teams (Eastern Kentucky and Baylor) keep WVU below Texas in the Power Rankings. Head coach Neal Brown has this team playing exceptionally well on defense, dominating up front with stand-out play from a defensive line anchored by brothers Dante and Darius Stills. If quarterback Jarret Doege can figure some things out on offense, this team could make some noise in the Big 12.

Next Up: vs Kansas, Saturday, October 17th 11:00 a.m. Central (on FOX)

8. COVID-19 Baylor Bears [8]

Last week: Bye Week

Trending: DOWN. The Bears somehow managed to lose during their bye week. In case you missed the headlines from earlier this week, as mentioned above, Baylor’s season has once again come to a halt, as a COVID outbreak amongst their team has infected at least 28 players. Baylor has played the least amount of games of any team in the Big 12, with only two games under their belt. Their game against Oklahoma State, originally planned for this weekend, was postponed. So we’ll next see the Bears (or whatever is available of them) next weekend in Austin. Hopefully.

Next Up: at Texas, Saturday, October 24th 11:00 a.m. Central (on ESPN)

9. Texas Tech Red Raiders [9]

Last week: L at (24) Iowa State, 31-15

Trending: DOWN. The Red Raiders struggled in every imaginable phase of the game last Saturday, save for a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. Two weeks removed from their offensive explosion against Texas, Texas Tech only mustered up 270 total yards of offense, and only 69 yards and three first downs at halftime. On the other side of the ball, Texas Tech gave up over 500 yards of offense. Sure, Iowa State is a good team. But this defense has shown us enough this year — they’re absolutely awful. Texas Tech is hands down the second-worst team in the conference as of right now, with flaws on both sides of the ball.

Next Up: vs West Virginia, Saturday, October 24th 4:30 p.m. Central (on ESPN2)

10. Kansas Jayhawks [10]

Last week: Bye Week

Trending: NEUTRAL. While the Raiders are hands down the second-worst team in conference, Kansas is even more of a lock for worst team in the conference. There’s such a huge gap in talent between the Jayhawks and any other team in conference, that it may be a minor miracle to see Kansas log even a single win this year. Add in that with coach Les Miles positive with COVID-19, he’s not allowed to be around his team. After a bye week, the Jayhawks return to action to face the Mountaineers on the road and are expected to return to delivering disappointing results.

Next Up: at West Virginia, Saturday, October 17th 11:00 a.m. Central (on FOX)

BIG 12 STANDINGS (THROUGH WEEK 5)

Conference record listed first, followed by overall record

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

AROUND THE NCAA

In this section, we’ll provide updates regarding news and scores from around the NCAA.

ACC — The ACC now has the majority of teams within the AP Poll top 25, with No. 1 Clemson, No. 4 Notre Dame, and No. 5 North Carolina representing the conference. No. 13 Miami and No. 23 Virginia Tech round out the other schools ranked within the conference.

Big Ten — The Big Ten will resume play on October 24th. Currently, the conference sports five ranked schools: No. 6 Ohio State, No. 9 Penn State, No. 16 Wisconsin, No. 19 Michigan, and No. 24 Minnesota.

SEC — The SEC was on upset alert last week, with both Florida and LSU losing in their respective games against Texas A&M and Missouri this past weekend. Currently, there’s six ranked schools in the SEC: No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia, No. 10 Florida, No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 15 Auburn, and No. 18 Tennessee.

PAC-12The Pac-12 will resume play on November 7th. Currently, the conference sports just two ranked teams — No. 12 Oregon and No. 25 USC. That’s the lowest number of ranked teams from a single conference in the Power Five.

PARTING SHOT