I feel bad for the guy who has to do the power rankings after this week (Oh, that's me. Damn.) because the Big 12 is worlds different after last week despite only playing a small handful of games. Let's start with the headliner that has thrown the whole conference picture on its head.
West Virginia Mountaineers 30, #11 Oklahoma State Cowboys 21
Wow. The supposedly sturdy defense of Oklahoma State let West Virginia score 23 more points than they managed against the mighty(?) Maryland Terrapins last week and the Mountaineer defense bounced back to hold the Cowboys to 21 while scoring a touchdown of their own to create the momentum for the Mountaineers early in the game. The Mountaineer defense was particularly stout on the ground, holding the Cowboys to less than three yards per carry, which forced Oklahoma State into third and long situations that the Cowboys struggled to convert in the air which combined with the Cowboys putting on their best TCU impression and shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly with penalties (10 for 96 yards). Despite a two score victory against the eleventh ranked team in the nation, West Virginia let it be a lot closer than it needed to be with numerous questionable decisions in the fourth quarter, including repeatedly throwing and running out of bounds while trying to milk the clock at the end of the game and putting together one of the worst red zone performances you'll ever see in turning second and goal on the three yard line into fourth and goal on the seventeen. What do you take from this performance? Well, West Virginia's defensive improvement is certainly legitimate (someone gave me a hard time last week for saying that West Virginia's defense wasn't bad in the Maryland loss, so I feel a bit vindicated this week) and they may have found the right man to quarterback them this season in freshman Clint Trickett. On the Oklahoma State side, the losses at running back that I was worried about to begin the season are looming a bit larger now, though the defense did its part in holding Trickett to below 50% completions and less than two yards per carry the offense is not the same threat if it's as one dimensional as it looked against the Mountaineers.
Next week: West Virgina- @ Baylor Bears, Oklahoma State- Kansas State Wildcats
Staff Picks: Yeaaaah. Everyone had Oklahoma State by multiple scores. I feel better knowing that the fellows at the Smoking Musket probably had similar predictions.
#14 Oklahoma Sooners 35, #22 Notre Dame Fig Thing Irish 21
It's time to be afraid of Oklahoma again. The opportunistic Oklahoma defense got a pick six on just the third play of the game, then after the Sooners kicked off they immediately intercepted Tommy Rees again on the very next play off of a deflection to set the Sooners up on the Notre Dame 32. After that it was all fairly academic as Notre Dame had to press to keep up, while the Sooners gashed the imposing Notre Dame run defense for over 200 yards rushing at a pace over 5 yards per carry. Why Blake Bell didn't start the season for the Sooners was a mystery to me to start the season, and it seems even more of a mystery now as Bell has looked fantastic in his two weeks as a starter, throwing six touchdowns and no interceptions. Every Notre Dame score and rally was answered by the Sooners, who also refused to let momentum turn by committing turnovers. The interesting bit will be seeing if TCU's smaller but significantly faster defense does a better job against the Oklahoma running game than Notre Dame's behemoth 3-4, but after first five weeks of the football season Oklahoma has finally asserted that it is the class of the Big 12... for now.
Next week: TCU Horned Frogs
Staff Picks: HawkeyedFrog and FungoFrog both picked Oklahoma to win, which sends Jamie into the shame corner for the week. HawkeyedFrog gets bonus points for picking the perfect margin of victory and only being one point off of each actual score, predicting 34-20.
Iowa State Cyclones 38, Tulsa Golden Hurricane 21
Welcome to the win column, Iowa State! The Cyclones defense deserves a ton of credit in this one, forcing four turnovers and holding Tulsa to just 3-12 on third down conversions on the night, but the game was won for the Cyclones on the ground as they rolled up almost 200 yards rushing and did a good job of keeping the Golden Hurricanes offense off the field and from finding any rhythm. Cyclone QB Sam Richardson put up a fairly efficient performance as well, completing over 60% of his passes and tossing two touchdowns to one interception, but the man of the match was running back Aaron Wimberly who rolled up 137 yards at a 7.2 yards per carry clip. It may not be enough to get Iowa State out of the basement of the Big 12 power rankings (the comparisons still need doing) but at least it's a first step for positive momentum before Big 12 plays starts next week. The best thing about this game? I'm reasonably confident this will be the last time Iowa State plays Tulsa this year, as I don't see the Golden Hurricane making it to bowl eligibility and yet another rematch with the Cyclones.
Next week: Texas Longhorns
Staff Picks: Thursday game, we were late. Oops.
TCU Horned Frogs 41, SMU Mustangs 17
I know you've probably read enough of my thoughts on this from the gamethread, postgame reactions and postgame analysis (and you're going to get more on Monday) so I'll keep it short and sweet. The TCU team that showed up in the second half can beat anybody in the Big 12, the TCU team that showed up in the first half will lose to anybody in the Big 12 (yes, even Iowa State and Kansas). Let's hope the lessons we take from this game will serve us well in the weeks ahead, because the competition is about to level up in a big way.
Next week: @ Oklahoma Sooners
Staff Picks: Everyone picked TCU by at least 18, but HawkeyedFrog was holding on to an almost perfect prediction in the fourth quarter when it was 31-10 (he had 31-9). Hawk still predicted the biggest TCU win though, so kudos once again. (Yes, my bolded alter-ego congratulates myself on picking well).