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Around the Horn: Big 12 Power Rankings Week 4

Last week’s top teams take a tumble in this week’s edition of the BON Power Rankings.

Ricardo B. Brazziell-USA TODAY Sports

Another weekend in the books for the Big 12, this one wilder than any other on the young season. This past weekend saw two ranked teams get upset in Oklahoma :) and Texas :(, a defensive struggle go down to double overtime in the Baylor vs. WVU game, and a thrilling back-and-forth come from behind win in a game featuring two backup quarterbacks in Texas Tech vs. K-State.

The last three weeks have also seemingly killed any kind of chance of a Big 12 team earning a College Football Playoff bid, with Oklahoma State shockingly the only school currently ranked in the top 10 in the AP Poll. But because of the past three weeks, this conference is wide open, now this year more so than it has been in a long time.

So with (for now) the CFP hopes of the conference dashed, but with the Big 12 still up for the taking, who looks poised to play in Arlington this December?


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. (10) Oklahoma State Cowboys [3]

Last week: W vs Kansas, 47-7

Trending: UP. Standing as the last remaining unbeaten in the lowly Big 12, the Oklahoma State Cowboys finally put together a dominant game to earn the number one ranking this week. Although the game was against Kansas, and expectations should always be high against Kansas, Okie State absolutely destroyed the Jayhawks this past weekend. The sneaky-good OSU defense held the Jayhawks to under 200 total yards of offense. And though the Pokes have faced off against two of the worst offenses the Big 12 has to offer (WVU and Kansas), our Defensive Drive Ratings metric has identified OSU as the best defense by a large margin to start the year. On offense, OSU finally shook off the rust of their first two disappointing games to amass nearly 500 total yards of offense. The charge was led by two familiar names — running back Chuba Hubbard, who racked up 145 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, and wide receiver Tylan Wallace, who totaled 148 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches. This was all with starting quarterback Spencer Sanders out of the game, as he continues to battle an ankle injury.

Next Up: at Baylor, Saturday, October 14th 6:30 p.m. Central (on ABC)

2. (24) Iowa State Cyclones [6]

Last week: W vs (18) Oklahoma, 37-30

Trending: UP. After embarrassing home loss to Louisiana Lafayette in the season opener, the Cyclones have rebounded with gritty wins against TCU and Oklahoma to right their season and put them back in the conversation for the Big 12 title. The Iowa State we got this past weekend against Oklahoma is the one many expected going into the season. Matt Campbell’s squad went toe to toe with the Sooners, matching them for total yards (417 to 414, respectively) and first downs (23 to 22) on the game. After falling behind early in the second quarter 17-6, ISU outscored Oklahoma 31-13 over the next 2.5 quarters. Brock Purdy’s numbers don’t leap off the page (12-of-24 passing for 254 yards and a TD), but he played smart and didn’t turn the ball over. That allowed the Cyclones to wear down the vulnerable Sooner defense with star running back Breece Hall, who racked up 139 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. The Cyclones defense also provided some serious pressure in the OU backfield, totaling eight tackles for losses and two sacks on Rattler. Their play against OU (and their win over TCU) have seemingly reassured the AP Poll voters and have re-entered the top 25 poll. They’ll look to defend that ranking against a reeling Texas Tech team this weekend.

Next Up: vs Texas Tech, Saturday, October 10th 2:30 p.m. Central (on ABC)

3. Kansas State Wildcats [4]

Last week: W vs Texas Tech, 31-21

Trending: NEUTRAL. Like Iowa State, Kansas State’s season has rebounded following an Oklahoma win with a solid Big 12 victory to get to 2-0 in conference. Last week’s game vs Texas Tech was a come-from-behind win for the Wildcats, who were led by running back Deuce Vaughn and his 113 yards rushing, 81 yards receiving, and two touchdowns. The come back is even more impressive considering KSU did it with a backup quarterback under center. After Skylar Thompson left the game after taking a hard hit to his right arm in the second quarter, true freshman quarterback Will Howard stepped up to throw for 173 yards and a score on 7-of-12 passing in relief. It was a solid team victory for the Wildcats, but with Skylar Thompson questionable to play in a pivotal game against TCU this weekend, look for KSU to let the Deuce loose and rely on their star running back and his incredible 10.0 yards per touch average this weekend.

Next Up: at TCU, Saturday, October 10th 3:00 p.m. Central (on FOX)


4. TCU Horned Frogs [9]

Last week: W vs (9) Texas, 33-31

Trending: UP. This week’s biggest riser are the TCU Horned Frogs, who defeated the Texas Longhorns in an uglier-than-it-looks 33-31 win. Coach Gary Patterson has had the Longhorns’ number since the Frogs joined the Big 12, and this win marks his seventh against the Horns. Patterson’s record of 7-2 vs Texas the past nine years compared to the 6-33 record TCU had against the Horns while both schools were in the Southwest Conference really highlights how much this coach has changed the national narrative of TCU football. Quarterback Max Duggan had a productive game, throwing for 231 yards and rushing for another 79 yards and two scores. TCU also got solid play from their special teams unit, with kicker Griffin Kell going a perfect 4/4 on field goals. These solid performances and strong coaching helped TCU overcome 14 penalties totaling 109 yards — something that’s shocking to see and unlikely to happen again on a Patterson-led program.

Next Up: vs Kansas State, Saturday, October 10th 3:00 p.m. Central (on FOX)

5. (22) Texas Longhorns [1]

Last week: L vs TCU, 33-31

Trending: DOWN. Two straight weeks of playing down to the wire games bit the Longhorns in the rear this past weekend, coming up short against TCU at home. Keaontay Ingram had a crucial fumble near the goal line on what was shaping up to be the game winning drive. Instead, Ingram’s fumble was the last Texas would touch the ball, taking away an opportunity for Ehlinger and company to pull off another late comeback. There’s plenty who point to this play as the one that lost the game or the referees and penalties. A week after committing 10 penalties for 100 yards, Texas committed 12 for 92 in this game (and a handful of these penalties were costly, taking away large chunk plays). In truth, this was a game that TCU controlled for the majority of action. Herman’s Horns have started conference play in 2020 very unorganized and undisciplined, as 22 penalties in two straight games is a Texas record. The defense looked slightly improved compared to against Tech, which is a small plus. But the main problem is Texas’ frustrating ability to continually shoot themselves in the foot - either with inconsistent play, play calling, or penalties. The Longhorns will need to scrap together clean games moving forward if they want a shot at the Big 12 Championship and Playoffs.

Next Up: vs Oklahoma (in Dallas), Saturday, October 10th 11:00 a.m. Central (on FOX)

6. Oklahoma Sooners [2]

Last week: L at Iowa State, 37-30

Trending: DOWN. And DOWN GO THE SOONERS. Another week, another upset at the hands of a traditionally middling Big 12 team that seems to have Oklahoma’s and Lincoln Riley’s number. Quarterback Spencer Rattler continues to showcase his talent (25-of-36 passing with three total TD’s) and his youth (a game-killing interception from the freshman quarterback is now his fourth in three games) as Oklahoma drops its second straight game for the first time since 1999. The Oklahoma defense has surrendered 38 and 37 points in their first two Big 12 games, and with a Red River Rivalry contest against Sam Ehlinger and Texas, that 37.5 points allowed per game average could go up. With the team’s playoff hopes all but dead, another loss may put their conference title bid to rest, as well.

Next Up: vs (22) Texas (in Dallas), Saturday, October 10th 11:00 a.m. Central (on FOX)

7. West Virginia Mountaineers [8]

Last week: W vs Baylor, 27-21 (2OT)

Trending: UP. As much as I wanted to put Oklahoma below West Virginia, I couldn’t get the Mountaineers any higher than seventh in the Power Rankings. If this team could find a consistent identity on offense, it would make a great case for the top five. quarterback Jarret Doege, who threw for 211 yards on 30-of-42 passing with one touchdown and two interceptions, needs to get in a rhythm for the Mountaineers to to take the next step, but a quietly sound running game paired with a tough defense will put this team in excellent position to win games and return to the promised land of bowl season. Which is a little ironic given the recent memory of West Virginia teams is typically opposite of what this season is showing us.

Next Up: vs Kansas, Saturday, October 17th (Time and Network TBD)

8. Baylor Bears [5]

Last week: L at West Virginia, 27-21 (2OT)

Trending: DOWN. In their first “true” test of the season (their first game was against Kansas), the Bears fought tooth and nail with the Mountaineers, but eventually lost to a very formidable West Virginia team in double overtime. So why such a low ranking in these power rankings? Simply put — their offense. Yes, West Virginia appears to have a good defense to start the season, and the road trip to Morgantown is as tough as they come in the Big 12. But the Bears offense was in hibernation for most of this game. Baylor mustered up just seven points at halftime, had to score late on a bit of flukey catch-and-run 34-yard passing touchdown, and then added one more score in overtime. On top of the scoring struggle, Baylor managed only 27 yards on 33 rushing attempts, and quarterback Charlie Brewer’s two interceptions and 49.0 QBR didn’t help, either. We knew to expect a defensive battle going into this. But it’s alarming for Baylor to be completely stymied for an entire game.

Next Up: vs (10) Oklahoma State, Saturday, October 17th 6:30 p.m. Central (on ABC)

9. Texas Tech Red Raiders [7]

Last week: L at Kansas State, 31-21

Trending: DOWN. The loss to Kansas State stings, especially with this loss coming right after the OT loss to Texas. This is the second game in a row in which Texas Tech held a fourth quarter lead, only to squander it and end up on the losing side. Quarterback Alan Bowman, who was injured in the first quarter of last week’s game, may or may not suit up and play against Iowa State. His backup, Henry Colombi, played well in relief, but given the Red Raiders’ defensive struggles it may take a whole lot more than just “playing well” to win a road game against an Iowa State team coming off an upset win over Oklahoma.

Next Up: at (24) Iowa State, Saturday, October 10th 2:30 p.m. Central (on ABC)

10. Kansas Jayhawks [10]

Last week: L vs (17) Oklahoma State, 47-7

Trending: DOWN. What is there to say about the Jayhawks that hasn’t already been said in this young season? Well, aside from the paltry 92 yards passing, the 3.01 average yards per play, or allowing almost 600 yards to the Oklahoma State offense, there’s not much else to cover. The only “positive” news for Kansas this week came on Thursday afternoon, with head coach Les Miles testing positive for COVID-19. Kansas will be off this weekend before heading up to face West Virginia on the road.

Next Up: at West Virginia, Saturday, October 17th (Time and Network TBD)


Conference record listed first, followed by overall record

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


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

ACC — The ACC is as top heavy a conference as they come, with four schools in the AP Poll top 10 (No. 1 Clemson, No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 7 Miami, No. 8 North Carolina) and six of the fifteen schools under .500 to start the season. There’s two big games weekend in ACC play, with Mack Brown’s No. 8 UNC Tar Heels hosting the No. 19 Virginia Tech Hokies at 11:00 a.m. Central on ABC, and No. 7 Miami traveling to play No. 1 Clemson at 6:30 p.m. Central on ABC.

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. 20 Michigan, and No. 25 Minnesota.

SEC — The SEC is chugging along, with No. 4 Florida and quarterback Kyle Trask dominating the headlines for the conference. With how this season is going, there’s a chance that we could see three schools from this conference in the CFP. Currently, there’s a whopping seven ranked schools in the SEC: No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia, No. 4 Florida, No. 13 Auburn, No. 14 Tennessee, No. 17 LSU, and No. 21 Texas A&M.

PAC-12The Pac-12 will resume play on November 7th. Currently, the conference sports just one ranked team; No. 12 Oregon. That’s the lowest of the Power Five conferences.


Throwback to the last time we saw Texas wearing their icy whites in the Red River Rivalry game.