Sometimes it just doesn't look like it's going to be your year, and in the Big 12 it seems pretty clear that things aren't heading in a great direction. Five teams in the Big 12 have won at least a share of the conference championship since 2011, all but one of them have had a loss in their first two games and the lone remaining outlier plays a Baylor non-conference schedule and went through arguably the worst offseason of any program of all time. Let's survey the carnage!
1.) Texas Longhorns (2-0), previous ranking: #1
The rest of the conference decided not to offer competition for the Longhorn's top spot this week, which is fitting, considering the lack of competition offered by UTEP's Saturday visit to Austin. The Longhorns defense allowed just one big play all day and the offense pretty well did what it wanted to do. Given the level of competition, it's about as good quality a performance as it was possible to have, but the Longhorns will be at the top of the rankings based on their ND performance for at least another week, or more likely, until someone does something more impressive. Still, the defense will get its first look at a Big 12-ish offense this week, as the Longhorns hit the road for a taste of the Bear Raid.
Next week: @ Cal Bears
2.) West Virginia Mountaineers (2-0), previous ranking: #2
It says something about the Big 12 conference this year that the Mountaineers went into halftime tied with an FCS team, and there was never any real thought about moving them down. The Mountaineers offense picked it up in the second half and the defense remains a solid pass defending unit, but showed a bit more vulnerability on the ground than they did against Mizzou the week before. That could definitely be an area of concern if anyone in the Big 12 had shown much of an inclination to running the ball in an important game other than Texas. The Mountaineers don't look great yet, but they still look good enough not to have anyone threaten their #2 spot- unless of course, they start another fanbase chirping about how they deserve a spot in the Big 12 next week.
Next week: Vs. BYU Cougars
3.) Oklahoma State Cowboys (1-1), previous ranking: #Tied for 5
There's really no good way to separate the next few teams, but I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the team that, without the referees making such an egregious mistake that they were suspended, would still be undefeated this week. It wasn't an easy decision, as the vaunted Cowboy offense managed under 350 yards against CMU and were actually outgained by the Chippewa's QB Cooper Rush's passing total alone. Still the OSU defense bent but didn't break (except for those times when it did) and did enough to win even in spite of another somewhat lackluster performance by the running game. The Cowboys have no time to dwell on their confusing loss though, as they'll be counted on to take on a decent ACC team coming off of an emotional rivalry win and try to restore a bit of the Big 12's sheen.
Next week: Vs. Pitt Panthers
4.) TCU Horned Frogs (1-1), previous ranking: #3
In the space of one game, and indeed sometimes in the same quarter, the Frogs made a strong case to be the #1 team in the rankings as well as being the #7 team in the rankings. The offense was often efficient, the running game was solid, the receiving group is deep and dangerous, but also put itself in terrible positions with turnovers and absolutely unconscionable penalties that ripped away momentum, killed tempo, took points off the board and even put points on the opponent's side of the board. The defense was solid, then got gashed as they were left on the field, then stiffened up again, then got gashed again when we really needed a top late, and the special teams both set us up for a game winning field goal, then got it blocked. As frustrating as the loss was, it was a loss that screams both "Young players growing" and "correctable mistakes", and there's still a good chance that with a bit more maturity the Frogs could find themselves holding the Big 12 championship at the end of the season. And happily, they get to take a step toward that goal before anyone else against a team that had an even worse day at the office on Saturday.
Next week: Vs. Iowa State Cyclones
5.) Oklahoma Sooners (1-1), previous ranking: #8
Oklahoma's time in the bottom half of the Power Rankings ended quickly this week, not because of anything in particular that they did well, so much as the rest of the Big 12 just totally falling apart. The Sooners got back on the winning track by thumping the overmatched Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, but that season opening loss is going to hang around in people's minds for a long time to come... Unless, of course, Oklahoma manages to do the unthinkable and knocks off #3 Ohio State in Norman. That kind of performance would go a long way to wiping out the bad taste of the Big 12's non-conference failings, but on the other hand a loss would be OU's first 1-2 start since 2005, which would definitely cause the fanbase grumblings of 2014 to begin all over again. Stoops' "Big game Bob" moniker has been treated as more of a joke than anything lately, but if OU was looking ahead to any game this season, this would be the one.
Next week: Vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
6.) Kansas State Wildcats (0-1), previous ranking: #7
In what is likely a case of absence making the heart grow fonder, the Wildcats show this week that sometimes it's better to just sit out a week, let the rest of the conference implode and then when you look around at the rubble you see "Hey, KSU only lost to a top 10 team by 13..." The Wildcats do nothing and move up and, with Florida Atlantic on the docket this week, find themselves in a nice spot to be able to move up again next week. Purple power indeed!
Next week: Vs. Florida Atlantic Owls.
7.) Texas Tech Red Raiders (1-1), previous ranking: Tied for #5
I was going to make a joke about Texas Tech leaving their defense back in Lubbock, but you know, giving up tons of points is pretty much par for the course for the Texas Tech defense in Lubbock as well. My personal theory is that Kliff Kingsbury hates seeing those signs with a large D and a white picket fence that were big in the 80s and 90s so much that he decided to never give Raider fans an opportunity to bring them into the stadium. Any time a Texas Tech player gets hit the referees could legitimately call it a personal foul- on account of him being a defenseless player. Prosecutors have a 100% conviction rate in Lubbock, due to there never being any defense. I could keep going all day, much like any offensive player against a Texas Tech defensive starter, but I think you get my point. Texas Tech remains a fireworks factory on offense and a house made of matchsticks on defense.
Next week: Vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
8.) Kansas Jayhawks (1-1), previous ranking: #4
Thus ends the winning streak. The Ohio Bobcats proved from the outset that there is a big difference between playing one of the very worst teams in FCS and playing even a moderately competent FBS team. Kansas still has a long way to go before they get to the "moderately competent" level, but the fact that the players didn't quit and kept trying to rally at the end is enough to keep them out of the bottom two. It could be even worse next week, though...
Next week: @ Memphis Tigers
9.) Iowa State Cyclones (0-2), previous ranking: #9
In a rivalry game that is historically close, against an Iowa team that isn't particularly high powered, with an ISU defense that looked pretty good andagainst Kirk Ferentz, who hates running up the score almost as much as he loves signing giant contract extensions... Iowa State of course got their doors blown off in a crushing and humiliating defeat. There is seemingly nothing positive to say about Iowa State's football team at the moment, other than I still think Matt Campbell was a good get for the Cyclones. Beyond that... Maybe next year.
Next week: @ TCU Horned Frogs
10.) Baylor Bears (2-0), previous ranking: #10
Baylor remains in the basement, not for their terrible offseason deeds or tone deaf tributes to a rapist enabler this time, but simply because they put together one of the most disappointing and difficult to watch football games I've ever experienced. So much potential for fireworks on both offenses, but just 12 damn points in the first half that it still felt we were lucky to be getting. Despite the blowout, this isn't an Art Briles era Baylor team... which is probably the nicest thing that you can possibly say about them.
Next week: @ Rice Owls
Agree? Disagree? Want Baylor our of the Big 12 and Rice in? Let me know in the comments below!