The season has flown by so far, and believe it or not, some teams already have half of their season in the books. Despite that, the rankings get their first major shakeup this week, so let's get straight into it!
1.) TCU Horned Frogs (6-0, 3-0), previous ranking: #1
The Frogs maintain their grip on #1 thanks to the stellar play of Trevone Boykin and a resume that is still vastly superior to the Big 12's other two remaining unbeaten teams. The Frogs have victories in two of the Big 12's most imposing road venues, as well as a P5 non-con scalp which renders their position at the top of the rankings indisputable for the moment. The Frogs defense was almost run off the field early against the Wildcats, but after some second half adjustments TCU came back strong and held the cats scoreless in the third quarter and let their offense get them back into the game- and TCU has possibly the best offense in the nation.
Next week: @ Iowa State Cyclones
2.) Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-0, 3-0), previous ranking: #5
With a road win in Morgantown, the Cowboys are in line for a jump, and after seeing what K-State is capable of when healthy, it makes sense to make it a big one. The Cowboys defense is back to forcing turnovers, which should help an offense that is still trying to find its way with Mason Rudolph's up and down performance. Still, the Cowboys have escaped half the season unscathed, and with both of the other undefeated teams playing at OSU this season, right now the road to the Big 12 championship goes through Stillwater.
Next week: Bye
3.) Baylor Bears (5-0, 2-0), previous ranking: #3
Okay, you might think this is a little petty at this point- Baylor has looked great this season, rolling over their opponents without much resistance. All well and good, until you look at who Baylor has been racking up those yards and points against- According to S&P+, out of 128 teams, Baylor has played the 117th, 121st, 123rd and 124th ranked defenses, as well an FCS team (that ranks 101st in FCS defense). So, sure, maybe Baylor is so good that they'll continue to roll absolutely unimpeded through the Big 12 this year, but all the evidence we have so far is that Baylor's offense is good enough to shellack four of the 11 worst defenses in the nation. This week the Bears will actually play a defense in the top 50, and it's the team that easily dispatched Baylor in Morgantown last year. We'll see if this year's incarnation of Baylor is made of slightly sterner stuff.
Next week: Vs. West Virginia Mountaineers
4.) Kansas State Wildcats (3-2, 0-2), previous ranking: #7
Yep, the Wildcats rise notably in defeat as their two losses were to the top teams in the rankings, and now that I've had a look at their offense and defense I think, when healthy, KSU is a pretty good team. That's... more than I can say for sure about most of the other teams in the Big 12, so they move up essentially by default. They'll have another chance to prove that they're top 5 worthy this week though, as they face off with another team that had a rough week...
Next week: Vs. Oklahoma Sooners
5.) Oklahoma Sooners (4-1, 1-1), previous ranking: #2
Oh OU. Just when it looked like you'd turned the corner and might make it all the way through October without a loss for the first time since 2004, you head down to Dallas and lay an absolute egg against the worst Texas team in fifty years. Strange things can happen in rivalry games, and clearly Texas was ready to play in this one, but the fact that Stoops came out and blamed the loss on his players after the game may mean that the alarm bells are sounding a little bit louder than usual up in Norman. The Sooners are going to have to rally and find ways to stop opponents on the ground after the Horns trampled them this week, and they're going to have to do it fast- the Wildcats showed just how capable they were on the ground at home in Manhattan and I'm sure are eager for a repeat performance.
Next week: @ Kansas State Wildcats
6.) Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-2, 1-2), previous ranking: #6
The Raiders demolished Iowa State through all four quarters of the game, outscoring the Cyclones in every frame, as well as collecting three interceptions of ISU QB Sam Richardson which just made things even more lopsided. The Raiders still have steps to go if they're going to become a Big 12 contender in the future- the defense was absolutely gashed by the Cyclones do-everything running back Mike Warren, and they're going to have to prove that they can run up the score and win away from Lubbock- This week will be a good opportunity to dip their toe back in the road waters, though, before a trip to Norman in two weeks.
Next week: @ Kansas Jayhawks
7.) Texas Longhorns (2-4, 1-2), previous ranking: #9
Football is a funny game, isn't it? One week after being left for dead for giving up 50 straight points to TCU, Texas (and Charlie Strong's career) has new life after a dominating victory over the hated Sooners. A bowl game is still likely out of reach, as Texas has no room for mistakes with contests against KSU (who always has UT's number) and Baylor still ahead on the schedule. Still, the Longhorns have something to build around this year for the first time, and it's possible that they go on a run- at the least, momentum is on their side.
Next week: Bye
8.) West Virginia Mountaineers (3-2, 0-2)
Another week, another team from Oklahoma and another disappointment for the Mountaineers. West Virginia's defense did its job again, picking off Mason Rudolph three times and holding him under 300 yards passing on 40 attempts, but the offense held them back again, turning the ball over, but more importantly, failing to connect on big plays. In this game West Virginia had exactly two plays of more than 20 yards, and in a game where the Mountaineers took 98 snaps it means that about 1 in 50 plays for the mountaineers was an explosive one. If you aren't getting big plays you have to have incredible consistency on offense to move the chains, and West Virginia is getting a 50% completion rate and four yards per carry- not enough to move the chains and keep up in the Big 12.
Next week: @ Baylor Bears
9.) Iowa State Cyclones (2-3, 1-1)
ISU freshman running back Mike Warren is a monster. Against Texas Tech Warren ran for an LT-esque statline, collecting 245 yards on 23 carries and almost single handedly driving the Cyclones into offensive competence, despite a fairly miserable performance from the ISU quarterbacks. We'll learn quickly how defenses are going to adjust to the current frontrunner for 1st team freshman all-american at RB, as Gary Patterson is renowned for gameplanning against opposing running games. ISU is not a good team, but Mike Warren may be a good enough player for the Cyclones to pull a few upsets and save Paul Rhoads' job.
Next week: Vs. TCU Horned Frogs
10.) Kansas Jayhawks
An interesting thing I read this week- due to Charlie Weis' mismanagement of the KU roster, Kansas has fewer players on scholarship this year than USC or Penn State had at their sanction ridden worst. This is not going to be a pretty or quick rebuild, guys.
Next week: Vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Agree? Disagree? Want to complain about the rankings being a day late? Let me know in the comments!
(My internet went out, possibly due to a rogue koala or wallaby, to explain the rankings being late)