Once again home field advantage loomed large this week as in every game this week the home team took at least a two score lead at some point in the game, but unlike last week that didn't necessarily translate into a big loss for the road team. With both Oklahoma and TCU finding ways to rally to survive while Texas simply continued their dominant performance, we learned a little bit more about the Big 12 this week. Here are your rankings!
1.) TCU Horned Frogs (9-1, 6-1), previous ranking: #1
The Frogs maintain their hold on number one not because they looked consistent or dominant, but because they simply refused to lose in a game that was among the strangest I've ever seen. When every bounce was somehow ending up in the Jayhawks favor (and often in their fingertips), the Frogs refused to let the tide of momentum sweep them into what looked at times like an inevitable defeat. At some point in any championship season there is a game that is a complete gut check where things go wrong- champions will overcome the setbacks, while lesser teams fall to the irresistible force. It happened to the Rose Bowl team in the San Diego State game, where what looked live a very comfortable lead turned into a hair raising escape, and I'm sure many of you will remember the 2005 Texas team's escape against another Kansas Jayhawk team- and happily, we had no need for referee interference to complete our come back. Saturday may have hurt our playoff position, but not our Power Ranking. Hopefully next Thursday will solidify things more.
Next week: Bye.
2.) Baylor Bears (8-1, 5-1). previous ranking: #2
Baylor claims that "Bye" is just as strong an opponent as Minnesota, and is very upset that the playoff committee doesn't agree. Given the way the Cowboys have been playing lately, I expect a similar challenge for the Bears this week.
Next week: Vs. Oklahoma State.
3.) Kansas State Wildcats (7-2, 5-1), previous ranking: #3
The Wildcats got a much needed week off to regroup after the butt-kicking they suffered in Fort Worth before continuing on their rough season ending stretch- the road games are tough, but suddenly the home game against the hated Jayhawks doesn't look like an entirely sure thing anymore either. Of course, the transitive property doesn't work in football, but if it did...
Next week: @ West Virginia Mountaineers
4.) Texas Longhorns (6-5, 5-3), previous ranking: #4
The Longhorns have banded together and found a winning formula on offense to go along with their sterling defensive play, and as a result will be bowl eligible this year (and may even end up paired with similarly barely bowl eligible Texas A&M). Coach Strong made a statement this week that Texas "would not lose five games again"- but with a game looming against TCU it's a lot more likely that the statement should be "Won't lose six games again". Still, the Longhorns are a lot better than Oklahoma State and are fighting hard for Coach Strong, so you can be sure that they'll be ready when the Frogs hit town on Thanksgiving.
Next week: Bye.
5.) Oklahoma Sooners (7-3, 4-3), previous ranking: #6
The Sooners move up despite a poor performance from new QB Cody Thomas for the simple reason that Oklahoma finally realized that they have all the components necessary for a nasty running game- and they escaped Lubbock with a win because of it. Admittedly, winning in Lubbock this year is so easy an Oklahoma State team can do it, but being on senior day (the last "home" game against Baylor is held at cowboy stadium) adds a bit more oomph and impressiveness to the win. If only they'd run the ball like that last week...
Next week: Vs. Kansas
6.) West Virginia Mountaineers (6-4, 4-3), previous ranking: #5
The Mountaineers had an extra week to recover from the trampling they received at the hands of the Texas run game, just in time for another run-heavy attack to roll into town. If the Mountaineers offensive line can keep Clint Trickett upright they'll have a good chance at turning the Big 12 into a two team race, but whether or not they can actually do it against a talented K-State d-line is still a long way from being settled.
Next week: Vs. Kansas State
7.) Kansas Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6), previous ranking: #8
I was honestly tempted to move the Jaybirds up to #2 this week after their phenomenal effort against the Frogs, but they'll have to settle with this for just now. The record is still bad, but I think everyone left on the schedule knows what sort of situation you can find yourself in if KU gets a few breaks. KU may have to fight to hang on to this spot, but for this week they may be undervalued. Look out, OU's winning streak against the Jayhawks, you're only a few tips away from trouble.
Next week: @ Oklahoma Sooners
8.) Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-5, 3-4), previous ranking: #7
Oklahoma State not only got outgained better than 2:1 against Texas, the Cowboys turned the ball over twice and gave up 300 yards passing to young Longhorn QB Tyrone Swoopes- not known as a particularly good passer before this week. Somehow the Cowboy defense kept them in this game for a lot longer than they would have otherwise been, but the offense is absolutely foul in Stillwater right now and there's no relief on the horizon this season. Goodbye bowl streak, Cowboys, unless you want to pull something special out against the Bears..
Next week: @ Baylor
9.) Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-7, 1-6), previous ranking: #9
It's showdown time for the bottom of the Big 12! The Raiders are finally looking like they have a pulse- leading through much of their game against the Sooners, and their offense is generally starting to find their identity under Patrick Mahomes- and Mahomes even avoided the token interception that Tech quarterbacks have made sure to throw in each and every week to this point in the season. Still, that wasn't enough to get Tech their second Big 12 win of the season, and the Raiders are now assured of missing a bowl this year. There's definitely some growth in Lubbock now that Davis Webb has vacated the starting position though, so I'm expected the Raiders to stay out of last place, even on the road.
Next week: @ Iowa State
10.) Iowa State Cyclones (2-7. 0-6)
Iowa State has a reputation for pulling off one game a season that they really have no business winning, but this year it looks like they pulled off that feat twice- this team really could be winless without anyone really blinking an eye about it. Still, at home against the Raiders, the Cyclones will get a chance to show that they're not through fighting for coach Paul Rhoads- which may help secure him another season at the helm.
Next week: Vs. Texas Tech.