I'll start off by apologizing for my absence last week- I hoped that I'd be able to finish up my major master's assignment in time to get up a power ranking, but each time I thought I was finished I found something that needed tweaking or polishing on a re-read. Frankly though, I'm a little relieved that I didn't have to do one last week, as I would have been faced with a fairly severe crisis of heart vs. integrity- this week's Big 12 action muddled things up quite a bit, but it makes the Power Rankings much more interesting, so we'll get straight into it.
1.) TCU Horned Frogs (5-1, 2-1), Previous ranking: #1
The mega-gauntlet of the Big 12's preseason favorites is over, and the Frogs came out of it in fairly strong position to contend in the conference championship race. 2-1 against three top 15 foes is pretty darn good, and though we're all agreed that yes, we'd prefer to change who the loss was to, poll wise it was probably the best way that things could've shaken out for us. Power rankings wise as well, a heartbreaking (and mildly controversial) close road loss followed up by an extremely dominant thumping of a good Oklahoma State team have the Frogs on the top of the heap. Let's hope they stay that way against one of the two other teams TCU hasn't beaten as a member of the Big 12.
Next week: Vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders.
2.) Kansas State Wildcats (5-1, 3-0), Previous ranking: #2
Man, those last power rankings were pretty good predictors, huh? Winning on the road in Norman is always a big deal, so despite the fairly fluky way it came about (OU's Groza award candidate missing two easy field goals and an extra point) the Wildcats are very much in the role of Big 12 contenders. The only difference between the Wildcats and the Frogs at this point is that their loss in a game they should have won came at home, while the Frogs' loss in a game they should have won was on the road. Particularly concerning- that play action pass off of the quarterback run play is absolutely brutal.
Next week: Vs. Texas Longhorns
3.) Baylor Bears (6-1, 3-1), Previous ranking: #4
Baylor gets a jump, but not a massive one after a tight home win and a road loss to West Virginia. The Baylor offense is a powerful thing that will keep them in every game they're in this year, but the lauded Baylor defense has some severe issues- and will be particularly vulnerable in situations where referees are more willing to call pass interference penalties. Baylor does a lot of things that could be called for pass interference (they were the nation's most penalized team last year as well), and it may simply be that when they're not interfering their secondary just isn't that good (That's not to say it's a bad strategy- the Seattle Seahawks and Michigan State Spartans have won championships by committing PI on virtually every down and betting that refs won't call them all). How the flags come out in Norman Oklahoma will do a lot to shape the conference race this year.
Next week: Bye
4.) Oklahoma Sooners (5-2, 2-2), Previous ranking: #4
That one had to hurt. Generally Oklahoma drops a game early in the season and starts breathing fire- demolishing every other team in their path and building back to national and conference title conversations. This season the Sooners are two games out of first place in the conference standings and lose the first tiebreaker to two of the other three contenders for the Big 12 championship. Trevor Knight hasn't looked fully right since the Sugar Bowl, but came on pretty decently after throwing an ugly pick 6, and put the Sooners into position to go to overtime and then win the game, only to be foiled by their normally sure legged kicker. This is an excellent time for a bye week for the Sooners, as even a coach like Stoops is going to have work to do to get the kids feeling good about themselves after two rough losses. At least they beat Texas!
Next week: Bye.
5.) West Virginia Mountaineers (5-2, 3-1), Previous ranking: #6
The Mountaineers saw what was working and overcame a bit of a sloppy early performance to put on what was likely a contract extending performance for coach Dana Holgorsen and upset a top 5 ranked Baylor team in Morgantown. After seeing early on that "They can't keep up with our receivers without interfering or committing a stupid hands-to-the-face penalty", the Mountaineers simply kept going to that well, and when Baylor stopped getting penalties they ended up burned to a crisp. Given that performance, it's a little more understandable why the TCU OCs kept trying the deep ball against Baylor (but still a terrible decision)- they figured that since Baylor was interfering, they'd get called for it. Now West Virginia is in a very nice spot in the Big 12, with games against two of the four other Big 12 heavies in the bank and with the other two having to go into Morgantown we may very well be in for a TCU-West Virginia-Kansas State 1-2-3 finish (in some order) in the league this year, and if anyone tells you they saw that coming at the beginning of the season they're lying. WVU will have to earn it's power position next week though, as they head on the road to a #6 team that just got humiliated.
Next week: @ Oklahoma State Cowboys
6.) Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-2, 3-1), Previous ranking: #5
The easy part of the schedule is emphatically over for the Cowboys, as they only have one more game this season against a team that isn't a Big 12 championship contender, and given the way the Cowboys handled their first real test of the conference season, things aren't looking great going forward into the teeth of the Big 12 season. The questions for the Cowboys are that outside of the deep ball, Daxx Garman hasn't shown himself to be a reliable quarterback, and if the running game isn't operating at a pace that will allow play action and stuff downfield, it's just not going to work. Amazing how a team's perception can go from "Big 12 contender" to "fringe bowl team" in a week, isn't it? If the Cowboys are going to get back in the conference race, it has to start right away without any moping about last week- it's all tough sledding from here.
Next week: West Virginia Mountaineers
7.) Texas Longhorns (3-4, 2-2), Previous ranking: #7
Texas seems locked into the #7 spot at this point, and this is likely where they'll stay barring a big upset. The previously stout Texas defense gave up buckets of points and yards to Iowa State at home, but Tyrone Swoopes appears to have come on enough to win games- at least against Iowa State. I really don't know what to make off a Texas team that can manage to play Oklahoma so close, but can also manage to play Oklahoma so close, so we'll just call them a talented team that probably has an upset in them, so let's hope they get it out before Thanksgiving.
Next week: @ Kansas State Wildcats
8.) Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-4, 1-3), Previous ranking: #9.
Yes, despite just a seven point win over the Jayhawks at home, the Raiders move back up to the #8 spot this week, as they came quite close to upending West Virginia the week before. This is a confusing Red Raider team without much consistency- the defensive coordinator is new, the OC seems to be of the Anderson/Burns mindset of throwing the ball even when the run is working better (Made worse by the fact that the Tech playcaller is also the head coach). Still, Tech has struggled quite a bit away from Lubbock this season, which means that the Raiders will have decent shots to pull an upset or two in their Twilight Zone-esque stadium when Oklahoma and Baylor come to town, but are likely to be in for a world of trouble with this week's road trip to Fort Worth.
Next week: @ TCU Horned Frogs.
9.) Iowa State Cyclones (2-5, 0-4), Previous ranking: #8
Huzzah for the Cyclones defeating Toledo! Less huzzah for the Cyclones gacking away a game against the Longhorns- a game that they desperately needed to cool the national chatter about Paul Rhoads' job security. I don't think Rhoads is going anywhere this year, but when the national chatter gets going it can really put a damper on recruiting, something that ISU already has its issues with. Still, it's the perfect time to have a bye week to pick up the pieces and hopefully see Texas Tech get pounded and move up in the Power Rankings by default.
Next week: Bye.
10.) Kansas Jayhawks (2-5, 0-4), Previous ranking: #10
Kansas isn't leaving the basement without a win, and I don't think they're getting one this year.
This has been the FoW Power Rankings- the only Power Rankings Baylor fans demand!