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Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 6

Even wiith the undefeated of the Big 12 taking a week off, the action heated up with the remaining 8 teams duking it out in contests all decided by less than a touchdown. Chaos is always fun to sort out!

Bob Stoops refuses to wear the Golden Hat himself.  Probably a good call.
Bob Stoops refuses to wear the Golden Hat himself. Probably a good call.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the FoW Power Rankings, which inspire even the national media to leave Baylor out.  There wasn't as much chaos as usual this week, but there certainly was a lot of attempted chaos, which is actually even harder to sort through.  Let's get to it!

1.) West Virginia Mountaineers (4-0, 1-0), Previous ranking: #1

The Mountaineers took a much needed week off, and their win over Kansas State is looking more solid after the Wildcats' win against Tech- who just happens to be West Virginia's next opponent.  There are both good and bad parts of this matchup for West Virginia, as on the one hand the Mountaineers haven't really been racking up the points you generally need to beat a team like the Raiders but, on the other hand, they've been playing teams with much better defenses than the Raiders.  Then again, the last time a ranked West Virginia rolled into the twilight zone that is Lubbock they rolled back out with a 35 point loss- so safe to say the Mountaineers will have their minds fully on the task at hand in this one.
Next week: @ Texas Tech

2.) Oklahoma Sooners (3-2, 2-0), Previous ranking: #2

After a shocking upset in Dallas knocked the Sooners for a loop last year, Stoops likely had visions of another 2011 or 2012 style scorched earth victory in Dallas that have so endeared him to the fans and boosters north of the Red River for the majority of his coaching career.  What happened instead was a slugfest contested primarily between the monster tailbacks of each team- and OU was all too happy to keep feeding their monster to the tune of 35 carries, a welcome change of pace after Perine and Mixon were both left hungry in the Sooners losses to Houston and Ohio State.  The Sooners are now through the first of two rough parts of their schedule, as they'll be rotating home and away games for the rest of the season but have the misfortune of playing Baylor and current #1 West Virginia in back to back weeks later in the season.  Who knows, maybe by the end of the season a 10-2 OU team would be good enough to consider for a playoff spot! . . .  Hahahaha, no, this conference is terrible.  
Next week: Vs Kansas State.

4.) Kansas State Wildcats (3-2, 1-1), Previous ranking: #6

On the plus side, the Wildcats got scores in all three phases of the game- a 99 yard kickoff return TD and a pick 6 to go with the usual offensive output, but the worrisome part of that is that both of them were needed for KSU to keep the pressure on and eventually outpace Tech.  The Wildcats put together another solid performance on the ground, running for almost 250 yards, but they were still unable to get anything going in the passing game- which is particularly concerning when you remember that they were playing against a Texas Tech defense that is pretty bad against just about everything.  The Wildcats put up 150 yards less of air yardage than any of Tech's previous opponents, and they did it on another 50% passing performance that is going to get them in trouble when thye play more of the explosive teams in the conference.  Now that said, the defense is pretty good, and will certainly keep the cats in every game this year, but it's going to be tough to keep up if the Cats ever end up falling behind or just... in need to pass ever.
Next week: @ Oklahoma Sooners.

5.) TCU Horned Frogs(4-2, 2-1), Previous ranking: #4

Thank goodness for bye weeks!  The Frogs survived their annual heart attack against the Jayhawks and now can take the time to address the myriad issues that seem to be holding them back from putting on a consistent performance.  One big help could be in the cards though, as the return of the Big 12's most dangerous man, Kavontae Turpin, could apparently come as soon as the West Virginia game, but TCU's offensive issues go deeper than simply not having their all-star special teamer and slot wizard.  TCU needs to remember what exactly it is that makes a spread offense effective- forcing the defense to defend the entire field- that's what sets up the deep routes.  You can't just always expect to go to the deep routes if you aren't making the defense pay for neglecting to cover every area of the field beneath those deep routes.  If you don't have the best receiver in the nation lining up for you on one sideline who can soar into the air, high point a ball and come down with it every time, it's simply not sustainable.  The pieces are there, and the Frogs have two weeks to figure out how to put them together to a team that will be able to take on the Power Ranking's current #1 team, West Virginia.
Next week: Bye.

6.) Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-2, 2-1), Previous ranking: #4

Is it better to have to come back from down 17 at home against Iowa State, or come back from down 10 on the road at Kansas?  Is it better to be unwilling to run the ball, or unable?  These are the questions that divide TCU and Oklahoma State at the moment, and this week I'm giving a slight nod to the Horned Frogs because I think they have more potential to address their current limitations.  That said, the Cowboys do have a dynamite passing game, and it paid off in a big way once Iowa State took their 17 point lead- OSU connected on a 35 yard touchdown pass and immediately seized on the momentum swing while ISU flailed away with its two QB system to its own detriment.  The biggest perk for the Cowboys, though, is that they took actually handled the time in the fourth quarter well.  This was one of their huge issues in the loss to Baylor, so being able to manage the time and score 24 points in the last 17 minutes is a definite relief.  The key development for the Cowboys on the bye week will be if they can find, for the first time in two years, find a successful running game while Mason Rudolph is behind center.  If they can, this is a team that can contend for the Big 12 title.  If not their season will likely end with another beatdown in the Bedlam game.
Next week: Bye

7.) Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-2, 1-2), previous ranking: #7

The Raiders stay locked in at #7 this week despite their loss to the wildcats, for much the same reasons that we discussed with Kansas State before- there is no new information.  The Raiders have a very good passing game, Patrick Mahomes is an exceptional talented player and... that is about the limit of nice things to say about Tech.  The running game has taken a serious step back from last year due to the absence of possibly the Big 12's most underestimated weapon, DeAndre Washington.  As a result, Mahomes not only has to shoulder the 500 passing yards per game that Tech needs to be successful, but he also has to take on the lion's share of the carries as well.  The end result did result in 5 total touchdowns for Mahomes on Saturday, but resulted in a net rushing total of -3 yards as even Big 12 defenses seem able to handle Tech's running game with a six or seven man front more often than not.  Factor in possibly the worst defense of any power 5 and it's easy to see why so many quarterbacks have left Texas Tech the past few years- perhaps the guy from behind the Slurpee machine at 7-11 could pass for 300 yards in this offense, but he'd probably transfer back to 7-11 to avoid the pressure of having to carry the team by himself.  This week we'll see how Mahomes handles what has been the best defense in the Big 12 so far, and just as importantly, if there's anyone else who can help him pick up the slack.
Next week: Vs. West Virginia

8.) Texas Longhorns (2-3, 0-3), Previous ranking: #8

When your players have to tell your AD to try to shut down the coaching search business and let your current coach do his job, you are looking at a program with problems.  On the one hand, Coach Strong appears to be aware of these problems, as he appointed himself his own defensive coordinator this week to attempt to silence some of those calls and settle the fanbase.  Sadly Coach Strong's increased supervision of the defense did little to actually improve the quality of the Texas defense, as OU rolled up almost 700 yards of offense and never managed to come up with a satisfying answer for OU's running attack.  Offensively, the Longhorns have definitely improved from last year's efforts, and D'Onta Foreman is good to the point of being potentially terrifying, but like much of the Big 12, the Horns are a very flawed team.  Their signature win over Notre Dame looks pretty bad after the Irish started 2-4, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to see where the 6 wins Texas needs for bowl eligibility are going to come from.  Given that Coach Strong probably needs 8 to save his job, it's time to start gathering film on Herman's offense for next year's Texas preview.
Next week: Vs. Iowa State

9.) Kansas Jayhawks (1-4, 0-2), Previous ranking: #10

The Jayhawks move up after developing a bit of offensive creativity and showing a very strong performance on the defensive line.  The Power Rankings are going to make a bold prediction here and now that KU will actually win another game this season, almost certainly against someone currently ranked above them in the rankings.  But then again, maybe it's just because it was TCU/KU again.
Next week: @ Baylor Bears

10.) Iowa State Cyclones (1-5, 0-3), Previous ranking: #9

Last week Iowa State was looking at a #7 spot, while this week Iowa State looked like a good bet for #8.  Then the fourth quarter happened, and now Iowa State is here.  Don't be disheartened, though, Cyclone fans- now that you don't have a 17 point lead on the other teams of the power rankings, you've got a chance!  On a serious note... why in the world are they using the two QB system when Joel Lanning is actually doing pretty darn well?
Next week: @ Texas

Agree?  Disagree? Think Fox Sports should join the Power Rankings and ESPN in forgetting who that other team in the Big 12 is?  Let me know in the comments.