A good week for the conference overall has most teams feeling a bit of Big 12 pride, new confidence in their team's prowess, but also a bit of concern about where those crucial wins are going to be coming from to get everyone in the bowl and conference seeds that they're dreaming of. Here's what a Hawkeyed glance around the league says about where each team ranks this week.
1.) Oklahoma Sooners (3-0), Last week: #1
Oklahoma picked up the best win of the whole Big 12 conference season by posting a 24 point victory over a very young, but very talented Tennessee Volunteer team that I think will be good for an upset or two this year (I'm looking at you, Third Saturday in October) and have closed up the non-con with the best resume of any conference team- especially since that Lousiana Tech team that OU handled effortlessly blew away fellow Big 12 non-con victim North Texas this week. The first true road test will be for the Sooners this week though (Tulsa doesn't count, the crowd was at least half Crimson) as they head to Morgantown to take on red hot West Virginia. Holding on to the crown of #1 isn't going to be easy from here on out.
Next week: @ West Virginia
2.) TCU Horned Frogs (2-0), Last week: #3
This may be a bit of a homer pick but... Oh my goodness, that defense. A week after rumbling for 220 yards, the B1G Ten offensive player of the week, David Cobb came to Fort Worth and is going home with just 41 yards on his tally. The Frogs held the run-run-run Gophers to under 100 yards rushing and forced five turnovers. The offense is still a bit of a work in progress, but "working" and "progressing" are things that could not have been said at any time about the TCU offense last year- and if the defense continues to perform at this level there's not a team in the Big 12 that the Frogs don't have a good shot against. I feel pretty darn good about the Frogs right now, though with a week off there'll be opportunities for other teams to impress.
Next week: Bye. It would be nice to have a bye week during the conference season someday, wouldn't it?
3.) Oklahoma State (2-1), Last week: #2
The Cowboys drop despite pasting what may be CUSA's best team, but that's more of an endorsement of TCU than a condemnation of OSU's performance. The Cowboys mixed in a grinding ground game with big plays (though they were quite hit and miss) in the passing game from backup Daxx Garman. The roadrunners may not be a power 5 team, but they do have a win over AAC team Houston and a very tight loss against an Arizona team that I put in the top 25 of my Frogpoll ballot. This team will not roll over and die, even if J.W. Walsh is out for a number of weeks- at least they'll have another full week to get Daxx prepped before their first conference game.
Next week: Bye
4.) West Virginia Mountaineers (2-1), Last week: #5
The Mountaineers went on the road and take down B1G Ten member Maryland (yeah, I'm not going to get used to that) and the offense was sensational- with quarterback Clint Trickett throwing for 511 yards and four touchdowns compared to just one interception. They might have moved themselves up further if the defense had continued to hold up their end of the bargain- instead the Mountaineers defense let the Terps come back from a 22 point deficit halfway through the second quarter to just eight at the half- that's the sort of lapse that turns a blowout into a nailbiter, and in the end the Mountaineers had to sneak a field goal in as time expired to clinch the win. The Mountaineers gave up 447 yards to a not exactly high octane Terp offense, so there's room for improvement- and they'll need it soon if they're going to hold on next week.
Next week: Oklahoma
5.) Kansas State Wildcats (2-0, 1-0), Last week: #4
The Wildcats get bumped from the top 4 despite the narrow escape against Iowa State looking significantly better now, but the Hawkeyed index is going to be watching the Thursday night clash between Kansas State and Auburn very closely- and wouldn't be at all surprised if the Wildcats pull the upset and vault to the top of the power poll next week.
6.) Baylor Bears (3-0), Last week: #6
The Bears did their thing to the Bulls, strafing them through the air for almost 500 yards and 5 TDs while the defense kept the Bulls off the board for the first half and the game was in hand. And now that the Baylor non-conference schedule is over we know about as much about them as we did before the season started- they're a good deal better than SMU (0-2, got demolished by UNT), Northwestern State (1-1 in the FCS schedule) and Buffalo (lost to Army). One day we'll know if the Bears are for real, competition does pick up this week, comparatively!
Next week: Bye
7.) Texas Longhorns (1-2), Last week: #7
The Longhorns didn't get the upset against a hobbled UCLA team, but just staying close was a definite uptick from last week's utter beatdown from the mighty Mormon horde. UCLA is probably still overrated, but the defense is at least legit, and Tyrone Swoopes looked pretty decent against it (even though he wasn't asked to do too much) and the running game worked well for the most part. The downside for the Longhorns is that the defense gave up 443 yards and let a backup slice them up for a 75% completion rate (even if they did keep it generally short) and 4.6 yards per carry in the running game. Still, things are looking a lot better for the Longhorns in the long run, and if Swoopes keeps progressing they could end up a threat by the end of the seaso... dang it.
Next week: Bye
8.) Iowa State Cyclones (1-2), Last week: #9
Paul Rhoads needed this one, as nothing cools a warmish seat quite like a win over a hated rival, and he got it in dramatic fashion against ISU's in-state big brother program. Though Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz will get blame for icing the kicker when he missed, only to see Cole Netten put the second try through the uprights, the Hawkeyes were pretty much doomed from the moment the Cyclones took the lead in the fourth quarter. ISU let the running game go in the fourth quarter and just let Sam Richardson continue along with his great day throwing the ball, continually picking on the Hawkeye linebackers in coverage en route to almost a 70% completion rate and two touchdowns without throwing a pick. The Cyclone defense continually stuffed the Hawkeye running game and flummoxed Iowa QB Jake Rudock, and finally got ISU a win- and a pretty good one at that. At least better than the wins #9 in the list has...
Next week: Bye
9.) Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-1), Last week: #8
Ouch. We mentioned Minnesota's run-run-run offense earlier, but Arkansas is coached by our old pal Bret Bielema and he has even less of an idea that people are allowed to do other things in rock-paper-scissors than throw rock. And yet, against Tech, it worked to the tune of 7 rushing touchdowns and a 49-28 blowout. Arkansas had five players average over five yards per carry against Tech, even when the Raiders knew it was coming. Interestingly, the Raiders running game served them well in this one, as Tech's DeAndre Washington averaged 6.5 yards per carry before things got out of hand enough where Davis Webb had to try and throw the Raiders back into it exclusively- which he did not succeed with. It looks like things are going to be tough for Tech defending the run all year, and it's lucky that they have a week off to try and wash the tire marks out of their jerseys from where they were run over last weekend.
Next week: Bye.
10.) Kansas Jayhawks (1-1), Last week: #10
Freshman Duke running back Shaun Wilson ran for a school record 245 yards against Kansas, averaging over 20 yards per carry. Duke as a whole rumbled for 9.1 yards per carry. Yeah, Kansas is really, really bad.
Next week: Central Michigan
A pretty quiet week in the Big 12 this weekend, with the marquee game on Thursday, but I'm sure somehow the power rankings will be entirely different again. And on that note, I'm off for a few days ladies and gents, but I'll be back with you again next week- in much closer physical proximity as well. Have a great weekend!