Finally a full game of Big 12 teams playing against each other, which means that things are finally going to be settling down a bit. Still this week featured a showdown of the #2 and #3 teams of last week's rankings- let's see how things ended up!
1.) TCU Horned Frogs (5-0, 2-0), previous ranking: #1
That was the best performance I've seen from TCU this season by far. The offense looked as impressive as ever, absolutely shredding the Longhorns defense in the first quarter (and then whenever else they wanted) through the air and the ground with near equal effectiveness. All well and good. Then there was the defense, which looked like a real TCU defense for the first time this year- they flew to the ball, they put their helmet on the ball, they made plays in the backfield and they attacked the ball and the receiver instead of panicking when balls started flying. They're not the late 2014 TCU defense yet, but they're not the defense that gave up 50+ points to Texas Tech either. That's some power, right there.
Next week: @ Kansas State Wildcats
2.) Oklahoma Sooners (4-0, 1-0), previous ranking: #2
The Sooners left no doubt in this one, as their defense made great strides in shutting down a West Virginia offense that had looked very solid the first few weeks, while their offense answered a late challenge by the Mountaineers by piling on the points and turning a tight affair back into a very comfortable victory. That's the sort of mental toughness that has been lacking from the Sooners in recent years, where they have seemed much more likely to crumble under adversity than rally to face it. Stoops has a contender in Norman again, which nobody should be surprised about.
Next week: Red River Shootout (@ Dallas)
3.) Baylor Bears (4-0, 1-0), previous ranking: #5
And the Bears continue their ascent up the power rankings, but this time it's from their own accomplishments, rather than simply the failings of teams above them. Baylor did the Baylor thing in Arlington, continuing to apply pressure to the Raiders until the damn broke and the points started rocketing up. It will be interesting to see how Baylor does on the road in Lawrence this week as the temptation to look past the Jayhawks to a revenge match with West Virginia will be strong. #3 seems like it will be a place for the Bears to settle in for a while until the conference powers start colliding in the second half of the season.
Next week: @ Kansas Jayhawks
4.) West Virginia Mountaineers (3-1, 0-1), previous ranking: #3
I'll start with this preface: It's hard to win in Norman. The fact that the Mountaineers were in a position to do so before their offense got bogged down is a good sign for West Virginia fans, and they still can be a major player in the Big 12 race if they keep winning- but Saturday was a reality check for the WVU offense that they're going to have to get squared away as they continue their run through the conference heavyweights- OSU, @ Baylor, @ TCU and Texas Tech are the next four games, so we'll see just how much the Mountaineers have improved.
Next week: Vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
5.) Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-0, 1-0), previous ranking: #6
Ehhh, I really don't know what to do with this Cowboys team. On the one hand, they're 4-0 and beat Kansas State... but it was a win over a backup quarterback who is a lot more wide receiver than QB, and their offense managed absolutely nothing outside of the quarterback- and it still took some official controversy to get the win even then. Still, to be a championship team at some point you have to get lucky or benefit from a bad call (right, Baylor?) so I can't punish the Cowboys too much- they're wracked with injuries, but are still 4-0. The schedule starts to pick up this week though, as the Cowboys head North to Morgantown- if they come out with a win they may launch themselves back into top 3 discussion.
Next week: @ West Virginia Mountaineers
6.) Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-2, 0-2), previous ranking: #4
The good news for the Raiders is that the worst is over- they emerged from the TCU/Baylor double header with two losses, yes, but they know that the offense can hang with two of the best in the country and they have two weeks to improve against the Big 12's lesser lights before taking on another nasty back to back against OU and OSU. Tech is likely out of Big 12 title contention now, but there's still plenty of time to rack up wins and show that they're heading the right direction under Kingsbury.
Next week: Vs. Iowa State Cyclones
7.) Kansas State Wildcats (3-1, 0-1), previous ranking: #8
The defense held up admirably well for the most part, especially against the lethargic OSU running game, but the offense is just... bleah. Even at full health the Cats have trouble doing anything productive when they have the ball, and injuries are starting to pile up, particularly at the quarterback position. And of course, this week the Wildcats take on a much more lethal passing offense with a healthy running game and scoring points in bunches will be a necessity. I don't like their chances against a suddenly improved TCU defense.
Next week: Vs. TCU Horned Frogs
8.) Iowa State Cyclones (2-2, 1-0)
Congratulations to the Iowa State Cyclones for their first 1-0 start in Big 12 play since the 2002 football season! I've been writing off the Cyclones because of their early struggles, but now I will admit that Iowa State is the team that is most likely severely underrated at the moment. Those losses against Toledo and Iowa look much better now, now that the Rockets and Hawkeyes have rankings to go with their (still) spotless win/loss records, and with a beatdown win over the Jayhawks now on their ledger it's entirely possible that ISU could still do things in the Big 12 this year- It's not necessarily likely, but it's possible!
Next week: @ Texas Tech Red Raiders
9.) Texas Longhorns (1-4, 0-2)
After narrow losses against undefeated California and Oklahoma State, it was easy to believe that the Longhorns had turned the corner and were going to put together a big performance against a young TCU defense. Instead, the Longhorns found themselves shut out until the backups gave way late in the fourth quarter, while their defense was humiliated as early as the first quarter. It's going to be very hard for the Longhorns to come back from this, particularly when it seems like they may be tuning out Charlie Strong.
Next week: Red River Shootout (@ Dallas)
10.) Kansas Jayhawks (0-4, 0-1)
The odds are firmly against Kansas winning a game this year, but we'll see if the team can just get a little better week to week. Still, a beatdown in what should be the closest remaining game on their schedule is very rough. It's about to get rougher.
Next week: Vs. Baylor Bears
Agree? Disagree? Think that Texas is somehow going bowling after all this? Leave a comment and let me know!