1. Oklahoma State Cowboys
It's been a long road back to the top for the Cowboys, but now that Big Brother had fallen it's time for...
Yes, I'm kidding.
Actually 1. Baylor Bears
I still have some serious doubts about the Bears, but there's no denying that they look like the most powerful team in the conference at this point with a dominant win over the Oklahoma Sooners. Baylor clogged running lanes repeatedly and put together a pair of great red zone stops to keep the Sooners from seizing momentum while the Bear offense stalled early, and Blake Bell simply couldn't beat the Baylor defense through the air consistently. Will the Bears go undefeated? I don't believe so, but with their first win over a ranked foe they've earned the top spot until they lose.
2. Oklahoma State Cowboys
I'm always a little disappointed when UT/OSU isn't on Halloween, as it's the one night I'm comfortable seeing that much orange. Still, we've got ourselves a showdown this week with #2 OSU heading to #3 Texas after their thorough demolishing of the Kansas Jayhawks. I may be alone in liking Wes Lunt better than Clint Chelf at QB for the Cowboys, but with Johnathan Gray out for the Longhorns the Cowboys should be favored in either case.
3. Texas Longhorns
The Longhorns managed to escape from Morgantown with a win, which is no easy feat (just ask the #2 team) but they lost their best offensive player in the bargain for the rest of the season. Malcolm Brown is going to have a chance to establish himself as Texas' key on offense the next few weeks, but he's not as much of a big play threat as Gray- can Texas continue the power rushing style against a solid OSU defense without asking too much of Case McCoy? It's a tough ask, but will make for a very interesting game on Saturday.
4. Kansas State Wildcats
The Wildcats make the jump to their best position of the year thanks to a dominant road win over Texas Tech, combined with OU's continued struggles. Kansas State has two more losses than OU including that anchor of a loss to NDSU in the opener, but when you compare similar opponents, KSU could have (should have?) beaten Baylor, came closer against Texas on the road and thumped Tech while OU let the Raiders hang around late. If they restarted the season now, KSU may well be the second best team in the conference- that's what good coaching will do for you.
5. Oklahoma Sooners
It was all in front of OU early on in the game, ball on the Baylor two yard line with a chance to take the tarp-less crowd out of the game early and Blake Bell couldn't bull his way into the end zone- for the record I think if your quarterback is a Blake Bell/Cam Newton type you're doing them a disservice by making them take goal line snaps from the shotgun- giving them a chance to build momentum is good, but it's also giving the defense a chance to get a man in the backfield as opposed to a straight surge from behind center. As it was, Bell was hit, bounced off and hit again before he made it back to the line of scrimmage and Baylor was able to stay in the game long enough for its offense to put enough pressure on the OU defense to make it break- when it did, the floodgates opened and despite a good effort by the OU defense the Bears surged to a comfortable win. For the Frog Fan that enjoys discouraging facts, consider that TCU's defense is also likely to slow down Baylor considerably early on- do you think TCU's offense is going to get down to the 2 yard line? It seems unlikely, and points to a grisly end. OU loses the comparison to KSU because, much like my thoughts in ranking Texas Tech and KSU last week, I think KSU is on a run that will see them soundly beat the Sooners in Manhattan- this bodes poorly for TCU as well.
6. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Baker Mayfield gave the offense a spark in the second half to keep the game from being a total laugher, but Tech could simply not stop KSU from gaining a first down if the wildcats rushed three times and didn't commit a penalty. You can have a good offense, strong special teams, clutch quarterback and a dreamboat head coach, but if you can't stop that most basic of football strategies from gaining ten yards in three plays, you will lose. Tech gets some credit for its head to head win over West Virginia, but this is almost certainly the sixth best team in a conference that will have seven bowl teams and may end the year on a Tuberville-esque five game losing streak. Look for BU/TTU to be ugly.
7. West Virginia Mountaineers
Almost, but not enough. West Virginia surged ahead, then faltered, then surged back, then faltered again and couldn't match the Longhorns in overtime. Kudos to the Mountaineers to making a game of it against Texas, but they're still in the same position we thought they would be, needing to avoid being upset by ISU and KU to make a bowl game. Not the worst position to be in, but not the best either.
8. TCU Horned Frogs
Hooray, eighth! Barring some sort of divine information on behalf of the Frogs (divinities love purple, right?) this is where the Frogs will finish the year, having secured victories over the two worst teams in the conference and no one else of consequence. What a long way down for a team that had a darn good shot at knocking off LSU in the opener.
9. Iowa State Cyclones
I think Iowa State is better than Kansas. It's not supported by the w/l record, but they just looked like a better team in their loss to the Frogs than Kansas did in theirs. Getting Kansas at home will help bolster that claim, but Iowa State has secured itself a bottom two finish without an astonishing win over OU next week.
10. Kansas Jayhawks
I predicted that Kansas would get a Big 12 win this season, but despite having two of the bottom four teams ahead on the schedule it's becoming increasingly difficult to see how that's going to happen. Charlie Weis probably gets another year as head hawk, but it's going to take quite a bit of improvement that I don't see happening with KU's schedule next year- @ Duke no longer looks like the likely win it was expected to be when it was scheduled, after all.