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Around the Horn: Big 12 Power Rankings Week 3

Just survive and advance, y’all.

Austin American Statesman

As more and more schools begin to kick off, that gives us fans more and more games to watch, analyze, and argue over. But at the end of the day, nothing quite takes your attention like watching Oklahoma get upset by an unranked team.

This past weekend marked the first this season in which every Big 12 school played on the same day. And like many things this year, the outcome was wild and unexpected. Oklahoma lost in historic fashion in a comeback win from Kansas State, only to then hours later see Texas roar back in their game and defeat Texas Tech in an overtime shootout. And in between all of that, TCU and Baylor played their first games, Oklahoma State and Iowa State are still trying to figure themselves out, and Kansas is, well... Kansas.

There’s a lot that went down this past weekend in the Big 12. Let’s try to make some sense of the conference with this week’s edition of the 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. (9) Texas Longhorns [2]

Last week: W at Texas Tech, 63-56 (OT)

Trending: NEUTRAL. Texas may not be ALL the way BACK just yet, but they’re back at the top of these power rankings by virtue of their shootout win over Texas Tech in Lubbock. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger continues to turn heads, from fans, the media, and defenders alike. His final stat line of 27-of-40 passing for 262 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception to go with 16 carries for 69 yards and a score on the ground may not be his biggest offensive output he’s ever had, but his leadership in this game was tremendous.

With just over three minutes left and down 15 points, Ehlinger led the team quickly down the field for a score, then got another one in the waning moments of the game, and finally carried that momentum for another score to put 22 unanswered points to get the Longhorns the win. This has been, in the recent past, the type of game that Texas would lose or give up in. But they managed to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat and escape an upset bid with a win — which is more than we can say about the team below Texas in this week’s rankings.

Next Up: vs TCU, Saturday, October 3rd 11:00 a.m. Central (on FOX)

2. (18) Oklahoma Sooners [1]

Last week: L vs Kansas State, 38-35


Trending: DOWN. Falling from their perch upon the top of these Power Rankings are the Oklahoma Sooners, who by all accounts, blew their previous game against Kansas State to lose in thrilling fashion. Their ranking at two may be a bit of a surprise, especially with OSU and Baylor sitting behind them with perfect records, and K-State also not far behind. The fact is — the Sooners finally don’t have a veteran, Heisman candidate at signal caller. Don’t get me wrong, quarterback Spencer Rattler can play — he threw for four touchdowns and nearly 400 yards. But the youth and inexperience was glaring in this one, as Rattler also tossed three picks and cost the Sooners the momentum and the game. This loss isn’t all on Rattler, as the Sooners defense did him no favors by allowing 31 second-half points, 24 of those unanswered. But despite these flaws, there’s still plenty of belief Oklahoma can figure out some of their kinks as the season goes on.

Next Up: at Iowa State, Saturday, October 3rd 6:30 p.m. Central (on ABC)

3. (17) Oklahoma State Cowboys [3]

Last week: W vs West Virginia, 27-13

Trending: NEUTRAL. Having the 2-0 Cowboys sitting at third in the Power Rankings instead of that other Oklahoma school may surprise some, but I promise there’s good reason for this. After two games, we still don’t know if Okie State is any good. The Pokes beat West Virginia last weekend in a lower-than-expected scoring game. Of course, they were with backup quarterback Shane Illingworth at the helm of the offense, but running back Chuba Hubbard had a mostly inefficient day running the football (though a late 23-yard touchdown helped push him over 100 yards) and outside of wide receiver Tylan Wallace, there weren’t any notable contributions from the passing game. The Pokes defense played well, but it came against a below average Mountaineers offense. The jury is still out on this Okie State team, and unfortunately we may have to wait more than a week for a verdict with their next game coming at Kansas.

Next Up: at Kansas, Saturday, October 3rd 2:30 p.m. Central (on ESPN)

4. Kansas State Wildcats [7]

Last week: W at (3) Oklahoma, 38-35

Trending: UP. The upset of the weekend took place in Oklahoma, with Kansas State’s fiery comeback win over the Oklahoma Sooners. The Wildcats overcame a 14-point deficit at halftime, led by an electric performance from quarterback Skylar Thompson. The Wildcat signal caller threw for 334 passing yards and one touchdown, and added three rushing touchdowns on the ground. After their surprising loss in their opener versus Arkansas State, the Wildcats rebounded in the best way possible by knocking off the Sooners for the second year in a row, resulting in this weekend’s biggest jump up the power rankings.

Next Up: vs Texas Tech, Saturday, October 3rd 2:30 p.m. Central (on FS1)

5. Baylor Bears [4]

Last week: W vs Kansas, 47-14

Trending: NEUTRAL. In their first game of the season, the Bears put on a solid showing and took care of business against the lowly Jayhawks. The Dave Aranda era got off to a great start, with the team dominating the scoreboard and keeping it clean on the field with no turnovers. They’ll get a tougher test this weekend in their first road game with a trip to Morgantown to play West Virginia.


Next Up: at West Virginia, Saturday, October 3rd 11:00 a.m. Central (on ABC)

6. Iowa State Cyclones [6]

Last week: W at TCU, 37-34

Trending: NEUTRAL. After a disappointing opening week loss, the Cyclones righted the ship with a win against TCU. The game wasn’t as close as the score indicates, with TCU nabbing a touchdown as time expired to close the gap from 10 to three points. Running back Breece Hall led the charge on offense, totaling 155 yards on the ground to go with three rushing scores. Now at 1-1, hopefully this victory is a breath of fresh air for the Cyclones, as the team welcomes the fresh-off-a-loss Sooners into Ames this weekend.

Next Up: vs (18) Oklahoma, Saturday, October 3rd 6:30 p.m. Central (on ABC)

7. Texas Tech Red Raiders [9]

Last week: L vs (8) Texas, 63-56 (OT)

Trending: NEUTRAL. Tech gave Texas everything it had on offense and then some this past Saturday, scoring 56 points in just under 57 minutes of game time. Unfortunately, games are longer than just 57 minutes, and the Red Raider defense failed to hold on to a 15-point lead. We saw in Tech’s other game this season that their defense, specifically their pass defense, is incredibly susceptible. Their offense led by quarterback Alan Bowman is capable of blowing up the box score and putting up points. Unfortunately, so is their defense.

Next Up: at Kansas State, Saturday, October 3rd 2:30 p.m. Central (on FS1)

8. West Virginia Mountaineers [5]

Last week: L at (15) Oklahoma State, 27-13

Trending: DOWN. After a beatdown of Eastern Kentucky in their opener, a more humbling result comes against a much better Okie State team. It was an incredibly sloppy performance from WVU, as the Mountaineers racked up 12 penalties for 106 yards. That created too big of a hole for this less-than-average Mountaineers offense to overcome. But on a positive note, WVU’s defense played well. But the team will need to play more disciplined and better on offense in order to finish the year at or above .500.

Next Up: at vs Baylor, Saturday, October 3rd 11:00 a.m. Central (on ABC)

9. TCU Horned Frogs [8]

Last week: L vs Iowa State, 37-34

Trending: NEUTRAL. In their first game of the season due to COVID postponements, the Horned Frogs looked very un-TCU like in giving up 424 yards of offense, including three touchdowns of over 30 yards. You could chalk the defensive performance up to COVID or lack of practice time this year, and Gary Patterson is one of the best coaches in the conference and TCU has historically had a great defense as far as the Big 12 goes, so I wouldn’t expect this level of play to stick for too long. But they’ll have their hands full in their next game against the conference’s top offense in a road matchup against the Texas Longhorns.

Next Up: at (9) Texas, Saturday, October 3rd 11:00 a.m. Central (on FOX)

10. Kansas Jayhawks [10]

Last week: L at Baylor, 47-14

Trending: DOWN. Same old same old for the Jayhawks, who were soundly beat in a road trip to Waco against the Baylor Bears. The Jayhawk defense and special teams stunk, allowing 203 rushing yards and two kickoff returns for touchdowns on the day. On the other side of the ball, Kansas couldn’t find anything in the passing game, with quarterback Jalon Daniels throwing for just 159 yards on 19-of-33 passing. Though Baylor looks to be one of the stauncher defensive units in the Big 12 this year, this result is just what’s to be expected out of most Kansas games this year.

Next Up: vs (17) Oklahoma State, Saturday, October 3rd 2:30 p.m. Central (on ESPN)


Conference record listed first, followed by overall record

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


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

ACC — After some COVID postponements, the ACC season is now fully underway with every member of the conference having played at least one game. (1) Clemson appears every bit the favorite for another ACC title, and the conference as a whole boasts five teams ranked in the Top 25.

Big Ten — The Big Ten will return to action in late October to play an eight game season. For now, the only teams ranked in the Top 25 are (6) Ohio State, (10) Penn State, (19) Wisconsin, and (23) Michigan.

SEC — The SEC returned to action this past weekend, and with their return many of the top ranked teams in the country hit the field for the first time this year. Much of the SEC’s weekend slate of games went as-planned, with the exception of then-ranked (6) LSU coming up short against Mike Leach’s Mississippi State Bulldogs, losing by a score of 44-34.

PAC-12The PAC-12 announced last week that the conference would move forward with a seven game, conference only schedule beginning on November 6th. On paper this looks like it’ll be a down season for the conference, with (14) Oregon the lone ranked team from the Pac-12.