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Around the Horn: Big 12 Power Rankings Week 12

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After an unscheduled bye week, how do the Longhorns shape up with the rest of the Big 12?

Brian Bahr / Getty Images

With just a handful of weeks remaining in the 2020 season, the Big 12 Championship contenders still have yet to be decided. In fact, a path still exists for six of the 10 teams to finish in the top two spots. In this season of Thanksgiving, I’m especially thankful for competitive football and for Texas somehow still being in the hunt.

And speaking of Thanksgiving, another year of power rankings means another year of Thanksgiving Plate power rankings.

THANKSGIVING POWER RANKINGS

  1. STUFFING — There are thousands of different ways to make this, and most of them are great. But make no mistake, whatever variation your family prefers, this is a quintessential Thanksgiving side dish that is just as popular as it can be unique.
  2. MASHED POTATOES AND GRAVY — When done right, this is hands down one of the best parts of a Thanksgiving meal. Creamy mashed potatoes with butter and light seasoning, with brown gravy on top — that’s perfection. You’ll be guaranteed to find the heartiest part of Thanksgiving dinner on every plate at the table this year.
  3. ROLLS/ CORNBREAD — Every family rolls with something different (pun intended), but these little guys make some of the best sides on the Thanksgiving table.
  4. PUMPKIN PIE — An underrated pie becomes the King of Fall Desserts each year at this time, and I’m here for it. Homemade is always great, but shout out to HEB for supplying us with the best store-bought pies each and every year.
  5. MAC AND CHEESE — The only reason this isn’t higher is because it technically isn’t a Thanksgiving food. But depending on what brand you buy or how you make it, it can be the most popular dish at your table.

BONUS CATEGORY

LEFTOVERS — Literally anything. Either from the list above or from other sides, it’s all great, and somehow these trump any other kind of leftovers at any other time of year.

SO BAD THAT IT’S IN A CATEGORY OF ITS OWN

  1. CRANBERRY SAUCE — No. Just no, thanks.

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. (13) Iowa State Cyclones [2]

Last week: W vs Kansas State, 45-0

Trending: UP. You couldn’t have asked for a better weekend if you’re an Iowa State fan. Not only did Oklahoma State drop their game to Oklahoma, a more-than-convincing win over Kansas State vaults the Cyclones into first in the conference. This team seems to be firing on all cylinders, as Matt Campbell’s Cyclones always seem to heat up when the weather gets cold. That’s the good news. The bad — of the “contenders” in the Big 12, they’ve got the toughest remaining schedule by far, with games against Texas (in Austin) and a frisky West Virginia still remaining. For a team that’s been a proverbial dark-horse conference winner the past few years, the path is finally laid out late in the season for ISU to win the Big 12. But they’ll have to earn it from here on out.

Next Up: at (17) Texas, Friday, November 27th 11:00 A.M. CT (on ABC)

2. (11) Oklahoma Sooners [3]

Last week: W vs (14) Oklahoma State, 41-13

Trending: UP. Bedlam was over almost immediately, with the Sooners laying waste to their in-state rival with a four-touchdown win. After starting the year off 1-2, the Sooners have gone into hyperdrive, averaging 50.2 points per game while allowing on average just 21.8 points per game. That spread has helped them achieve a five-game winning streak and a spot in the top two of the conference. With the remaining schedule consisting of WVU and Baylor, odds are high that we see this team in Arlington playing for the Big 12 title come mid-December.

Next Up: at West Virginia, Saturday, November 28th 6:30 p.m. Central (on ABC)

3. (17) Texas Longhorns [4]

Last week: Bye Week (COVID)

Trending: NEUTRAL. After two weeks off following a bye week and the postponement of the Kansas game due to COVID, the Longhorns find themselves as healthy as they’ve been all year and in control of their own destiny in conference with three games to go. Their first test is their biggest— a home date with Big 12-leading Iowa State. Tom Herman and company can stuff away most of the stink from earlier this season with a win against the Cyclones this Friday. After that, road matchups in the Sunflower State against K-State and Kansas would be all that stand in the way between the Horns and the Big 12 Championship. It’s there for the taking.

Next Up: vs (13) Iowa State, Friday, November 27th 11:00 a.m. Central (on ABC)

4. (23) Oklahoma State Cowboys [1]

Last week: L at (18) Oklahloma, 41-13

Trending: DOWN. For what’s considered their biggest rivalry, you’d think Oklahoma State would be a little more competitive against Oklahoma. Instead, head coach Mike Gundy’s Cowboys got dusted, adding another notch in the loss column to the Sooners under Gundy’s tenure — he’s 2-14 against them since he became head coach in 2005. The OSU offense looked lost in this one, with the team only able to accumulate 246 total yards. Meanwhile, the stout Cowboys defense succumbed to the Sooners and allowed just under 500 total yards on the day. Injuries have plagued this team in recent weeks, but OSU couldn’t get anything done against the OU buzzsaw. There’s still a slim hope that Okie State can claw back into the conference championship picture, but ironically, they’ll need to up their scoring in order to compete.

Next Up: vs Texas Tech, Saturday, November 28th 11:30 a.m. Central (on FOX)

5. West Virginia Mountaineers [5]

Last game: W vs TCU, 24-6

Trending: NEUTRAL. Fresh off a defensive gem of a win over TCU, it’s the Mountaineers who will play one of the largest roles in determining who plays for the Big 12 title. With games still remaining against Oklahoma and Iowa State, WVU can play spoiler to either of those teams with an upset win. The Mountaineers have been turning heads this season with a rejuvenated defense and a game-manager style of play from quarterback Jarret Doege. Like Okie State, it’s ironic that what holds this team back is its ability to score. But WVU’s defense, perhaps the best in the conference, will keep them competitive in most games, if not sometimes good enough to win on its own like they did against TCU.

Next Up: vs (11) Oklahoma, Saturday, November 28th 6:30 p.m. Central (on ABC)

6. Kansas State Wildcats [6]

Last week: L at (17) Iowa State, 45-0

Trending: DOWN. Just a little over a month ago, the Wildcats were seen as a potential conference winner. Fast forward to now, where a third straight loss has all but sunk the team’s chances at a Big 12 Championship game bid. A lot of this losing streak is attributable to the injury and loss of quarterback Skylar Thompson, but this past week showed that there’s more holes than just quarterback on this roster. A winnable game against Baylor awaits them this weekend before ending the season at home against Texas.

Next Up: at Baylor, Saturday, November 28th 6:00 p.m. Central (on ESPN2)

7. TCU Horned Frogs [7]

Last week: L at West Virginia, 24-6

Trending: DOWN. Though WVU’s defense is no joke, TCU struggled to get anything from their offense yet again this season. Quarterback Max Duggan was abysmal on Saturday, producing only 161 passing yards and a pick through the air and 19 yards on the ground. It also doesn’t help the Frogs that their once-feared defense has began to break over the past few weeks, allowing 392 yards of total offense to WVU, including 180 yards on the ground. The one ray of hope for this team, this year at least, is that after Kansas an upset win in a home matchup against Oklahoma State could net the team a bowl berth. But beyond that, this team should be looking towards next season.

Next Up: at Kansas, Saturday, November 28th 7:00 p.m. Central (on FS1)

8. Texas Tech Red Raiders [8]

Last week: W vs Baylor, 24-23

Trending: UP. The Red Raiders won a thriller in Waco two weeks ago with a walk-off, go-ahead field goal as time expired. That capped off a 12-point fourth quarter to complete the come-from-behind win. With quarterback Alan Bowman back in the fold, Tech has juuuust enough offense to keep themselves in games. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility to see the Red Raiders in a bowl game, either. They’ll need to get past Oklahoma State, first, but after that a game with Kansas awaits.

Next Up: at (23) Oklahoma State, Saturday, November 28th 11:00 a.m. Central (on FOX)

9. Baylor Bears [9]

Last week: L at Texas Tech, 24-23

Trending: DOWN. The Bears’ most recent loss is more heartbreaking than most. After being up 23-12 in the fourth quarter, the Bears stalled out and lost their fifth straight game. With three more games left, there’s still plenty to build on for head coach Dave Aranda. They catch Kansas State after a supremely disappointing loss, and games against OU and Okie State offer a challenge but can be used as a benchmark to evaluate talent for next year. As far as this season goes, though, their loss to Tech pretty much cements this as a lost year.

Next Up: vs Kansas State, Saturday, November 28th 6:00 p.m. Central (on ESPN2)

10. Kansas Jayhawks [10]

Last week: Bye Week (COVID)

Trending: NEUTRAL. An outbreak of COVID has yet again delayed the Jayhawks football program, this time with it forcing a postponement of a game against Texas. There’s nothing more to write here. This might be the worst team in all of college football.

Next Up: vs TCU, Saturday, November 28th 7:00 p.m. Central (on FS1)

BIG 12 STANDINGS (THROUGH WEEK 11)

Conference record listed first, followed by overall record

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

BOWL PROJECTIONS

Though the selection process is different for this year, that doesn’t mean we can’t still make predictions on which bowls the Big 12’s best will find themselves in come holiday season.

The projections are based off of the current Big 12 standings and national rankings. Big 12 representative in BOLD.

Cotton Bowl (At-Large vs At-Large) - (13) Iowa State vs (8) Northwestern

Alamo Bowl (Big 12 vs PAC-12) - (11) Oklahoma vs (18) USC

Liberty Bowl (Big 12 vs SEC) - (17) Texas vs Missouri

Texas Bowl (Big 12 vs SEC) - (23) Oklahoma State vs LSU

Cheez-It Bowl (ACC vs Big 12) - (19) North Carolina vs West Virginia

Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Big 12 vs Big 10) - Kansas State vs Purdue

First Responder Bowl (Big 12/ACC vs Group of Five) - TCU vs SMU

PARTING SHOT

Be thankful for Justin Tucker, the A&M Rivalry (RIP) and the nine-year anniversary of this instant classic. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!