The giant mixer that is the Big 12 season has begun in earnest, with all ten teams in action against each other on Saturday, making the rankings much easier (until teams start beating the ones others have lost to anyway). We have a new number one at last, and happily, it's the same one that started the season in our horribly biased preseason poll!
1.) TCU Horned Frogs (4-0, 1-0), Previous ranking: #2
Hail to the king. Not only are the Frogs still undefeated, but they now have the best scalp in the conference by far, as well as quite possibly the third best scalp in Minnesota, so as much as we may want to temper expectations, there's really no argument for anyone else to be in this spot this week- and frankly, I think the game was a lot closer to being a 44-33 or 47-33 game than it was to being an OU win. For at least one week, the Frogs are on the Iron Throne and Trevone Boykin is the Kingmaker.
2.) Kansas State Wildcats (4-1, 2-0), Previous ranking: #3
That frustrating loss against Auburn looks more and more impressive as the Tigers from Alabama did unspeakable things to LSU this week, much like KSU did to Texas Tech. I mentioned in last week's power rankings that Kansas State might be up 41-0 before calling off the dogs, and I missed on that. It was 31-7. Kansas State QB Jake Waters looked great in slicing up the suspect Tech secondary, while the K-State defense picked off Raider QB Davis Webb four times. I'm very relieved that this one is in Fort Worth this season, as K-State is only getting better.
Next week: Bye
3.) Oklahoma Sooners (4-1, 1-1), Previous ranking: #1
The Sooners take a tumble as their offense was simply unable to find consistent success against the Frogs in the second half. The beastly running game that dominated conversations after their game against West Virginia was nowhere to be seen against TCU's stellar defensive front, and when push came to shove on fourth and one, the Sooners massive offensive line couldn't shove the Frogs back for a yard. When the big plays dried up and Trevor Knight couldn't run for third down conversions, the Sooners simply had no answer for what TCU was doing on defense. That said, the Sooners are the most talented team in the Big 12, and they have historically responded very well to early season losses- so if TCU plans on putting OU firmly behind them in the conference title chase, we'd better win out.
Next week: Vs Texas (Dallas)
4.) Baylor Bears (5-0, 2-0), Previous ranking: #5
I'm still in a bit of a Game of Thrones mindset after Marshall's Frog Poll post, so I'll use a quote from A Dance with Dragons to explain why I think the fine folks over at ODB are Homer-y-er than a bald Simpson to have the Bears at #1 in their rankings for this week. "What victories has he ever won that we should fear him?" It's undeniable that the Bears have put up impressive numbers so far this season, as they always do, but their win over a Texas Longhorn team that has looked consistently poor since a sandblasting of North Texas in week 1 is by far the best that they have... and they didn't look great in doing it. If not for a pair of bad special teams plays by the Longhorns (and a few very strange calls) this could easily have been a 21-14 game just as easily as it could've been 35-7 or 28-0. Bryce Petty had a bad game, which I'm sure he'll be extra motivated to make up for at home against TCU, but a repeat of his 7-22 performance would lead to a game a lot more similar to the 2012 TCU Baylor game than either of the Bears close wins. If the Bears win, they'll get a big jump, but in the meantime... What victories has Baylor won, that I should rank them in the top 3?
Next week: Vs TCU
5.) Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-1, 2-0), Previous ranking: #4
The Cowboys had a lot of struggles in the first half against Iowa State, before a very strange ruling on what was initially ruled a goal line stop by the Cyclones was overturned and ruled a touchdown based on very disputable video evidence (not saying it's definite, but it was definitely disputable). The Cowboys took the lead and the momentum into the second half and rolled up the Cyclones from there. Cowboy deep ball master Daxx Garman threw two picks compared to one TD, but had his completion percentage improve a bit, and the Cowboys did run a decent amount against the Cyclones fairly respectable defense. The Cowboys get to rest easy against the Jayhawks this week, but after that we get a good look at how good they are when they make their first trip to Fort Worth.
Next week: @ Kansas
6.) West Virginia Mountaineers (3-2, 1-1), Previous ranking: #6
The Mountaineers exacted a bit of revenge from last year's humiliating loss to the Jayhawks, scoring 26 points in the first half while shutting KU out through halftime as well. Then, however, the Mountaineers went to sleep and their offense wouldn't score again, though they did return a kick for a score to keep things from looking too dicey. The Mountaineers also turned the ball over three times against the Jayhawks, further raising concerns about the Mountaineers. Still, this is going to be a bowl team this year, and they're likely to pull off an upset somewhere simply because Clint Trickett is pretty dang good, but they need to be careful in Lubbock- I'm sure they remember well in Morgantown what happened in their last visit.
Next week: @ Texas Tech
7.) Texas Longhorns (2-3, 1-1), Previous ranking: #7
The Longhorns were on the verge of moving up with a good showing against Baylor, particularly on defense, but ultimately the defense relented much like TCU's defenses last year. Some poor decisions (a field goal from well out of their kicker's range that was returned the other way) moved the game out of reach for the horns, but this is definitely a team with growth potential as Swoopes gets more comfortable with the offense- the defense is nasty. I think their game with West Virginia will be huge for the bowl hopes of both teams, as Texas has a deep hole to climb out of thanks to its rough non-conference schedule. In the meantime, it's hate week and anything can happen in Dallas.
Next week: Vs. Oklahoma (Dallas)
8.) Iowa State Cyclones (1-4, 0-3)
The Cyclones may be developing a bit of a victim complex, and though it's true that they've been on the receiving end of a number of screws from the Big 12 these past few years, I'm not really convinced that there is a conspiracy against ISU. Still. the numbers for Iowa State aren't pretty and it's going to be harder and harder for Paul Rhoads to rally the troops if they don't get a bit of good fortune somewhere in the Big 12 season, as once players start feeling sorry for themselves (we got screwed, the conference is against us), it's easy for them to hang their heads when they face a little adversity. It's a nice week to get Toledo in to raise the confidence and the spirits a little bit, so I'm not writing ISU off yet, but if they face hardship against the rockets, my bet is on the hardship.
Next week: Vs. Toledo
9.) Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-3, 0-2)
Maybe Davis Webb is just bad? The Raiders went into the season knowing they were going to have some rebuilding to do in their defensive front, but the thought was that a high flying offense would be enough to keep them in games and keep them plugging along at a 6-7 win pace. Instead the offense has sputtered and the faithful are tracking the movements of Tech transfers Baker Mayfield and Michael Brewer with wistful sighs and dreams of what could have been. Webb has been turning the ball over repeatedly, and despite a fairly decent stable of running backs Kingsbury is keeping the fate of the Tech offense firmly in Webb's hands- to ill effect. If the KU game were on the road I don't know that I would say there was a game on the Raiders schedule that I was sure they would win, that's how bad they've looked so far. Still, a lot of momentum was generated two years ago when a lackluster Tech team upset West Virginia, perhaps history can repeat itself and the Raiders can start to get turned around. At this point, I kind of doubt it though.
Next week: Vs. West Virginia
10.) Kansas Jayhawks (2-3, 0-2)
Kansas is still very bad, and I will write less and less about them with each passing week. They made the game against West Virginia look more competitive than it was by rallying when West Virginia stopped caring.
Next week: Vs. Oklahoma State