Welcome back to this week's edition of the Big 12 power rankings, where things are finally getting interesting. Two Big 12 teams fell this weekend, while three others were in games that were considerably tighter than anyone expected. Who's on top of the mountain as we kick off conference play this week?
1.) TCU Horned Frogs (3-0), previous ranking: #1
The Frogs on to the top spot this week, but the margin is shrinking considerably. Not because their performance against SMU was poor, but simply because the losses on defense are reaching absolutely staggering proportions, and even the best offense in the country (which we may actually have) can't be expected to bail the defense out every week if they aren't growing and getting better every week. You know, this week would be an excellent time to start as the Frogs head west to historically haunted ground (The Frogs are 6-18 against Tech in Lubbock, and haven't won there since "Do the Bartman" was on top of the billboard charts).
Next week: @ Texas Tech Red Raiders
2.) Oklahoma Sooners (3-0), previous ranking: #2
The Sooners avoided a trap game as their littlest brother came to town just one week after their big win in Knoxville, and the offense looked like it may have found the proper balance- though, like most Big 12 teams, the defense is a big question mark after Tulsa put up 38 points and hung around all game. In the end, the most interesting part of the game is just what Baylor coaches were doing on the Tulsa sideline during the game.
Next week: Bye
3.) Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-0), previous ranking: #7
The Power Rankings love teams that beat P5 teams (especially on the road) and all of the top 3 have now completed that feat. A bit of the luster may have fallen from the win since it was the week after the Hogs had been handled by Toledo, but winning in Fayetteville is a great feat for a team that needed a shot of confidence after the Hogs pounded them into the ground last season. Whomever wins Saturday's showdown in Lubbock will the the power rankings' #1 team next week without question* (Unless there's a 2013 kick catch interference situation).
Next week: Vs. TCU Horned Frogs
4.) West Virginia Mountaineers (2-0), previous ranking: #3
The Mountaineers will have a chance to take a P5 scalp this week as the Big Ten's Maryland Terrapin team (that still sounds weird to say) comes to Morgantown looking to avenge last years loss. The Mountaineers have looked great so far (which is a big change from how they've looked in non-con in previous Big 12 seasons) but now we'll see if they're going to continue to impress when the competition gets more difficult.
Next week: Vs. Maryland Terrapins
5.) Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-0), previous ranking: #6
It was against UTSA, so standard disclaimers apply, but that defensive performance was exactly the calculated risk-taking, turnover forcing sort of performance that the Cowboys rode to their only Big 12 championship, and the offense continued to pull its weight as well. At this point there's very little separation between the top 6 programs on the list, but Oklahoma State's home schedule could definitely give them an inside edge to the Big 12 title. Now we just have to see if they're good enough to overcome the historic thorn in their side- a trip to Austin.
Next week: @ Texas Longhorns
6.) Baylor Bears (2-0), previous ranking: #5
Baylor faced its most fearsome non-conference opponent yet and emerged unscathed, but move down due to other teams actually playing teams. The Bears get a small point of comparison for the rest of the Big 12 as they play a Rice Owls team that was already run over by the Texas Longhorns two weeks back.
Next week: Vs. Rice Owls
7.) Texas Longhorns (1-2), previous ranking: #9
Despite racking up another loss (and in heartbreaking fashion to boot) the Longhorns are a lot scarier this week than they were before- they hung punch for punch with what looks like a pretty good Cal Bear team and their offense looked much more effective than the moribund mess that we've become accustomed to seeing under Charlie Strong. Why couldn't they wait until after they'd played us before they had to go and change things?
Next week: Vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
8.) Kansas State Wildcats (3-0), previous ranking: #4
This was a bad week for KSU, and despite the actual standings not caring about how ugly the win was, this is about power and the Wildcats looked a lot more pitiful than powerful as they struggled repeatedly to get anything done on offense against a Louisiana Tech team that gave up 41 points to Western Kentucky (in regulation) just a week before. KSU is sort of an anti-TCU at the moment, with a good defense holding up while a struggling offense tries to find its way- but will that be enough when the high powered offenses of the Big 12 start coming to town? At least Coach Snyder has a week to try and come up with a few new wrinkles.
Next week: Bye
9.) Iowa State Cyclones (1-2), previous ranking:#8
It was close, but the Cyclones are now 3/4ths of the way through the very winnable section of their schedule with only one win to show for it, which has to have coach Paul Rhoads feeling a bit nervous heading into the bye. At some point moral victories can't be enough for the Iowa State fanbase and administration, and they'll actually want to get back to competing for bowl bids, and it's now very unlikely that that's going to happen this year. At least the Cyclones have plenty of time to prepare for what should be their most winnable game of the season- at home against our #10 team.
Next week: Bye
10.) Kansas Jayhawks(0-2), previous ranking: #10
No Jayhawk action last week, but KU will make up for that this week as they take on the Big Ten's other "Why in the world did they add that team?" candidate, Rutgers, on the road this week. Even Rutgers should be able to handle the incredibly thin Jayhawks without issue, generally, but with the calamity around the Scarlet Knight's coach at the moment, there may be no better time this season for KU to steal a win.
Next week: @ Rutgers
Agree? Disagree? Think Baylor should be #10 for all time? Let me know in the comments, because the rankings will be entirely different again next week!