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Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 3

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We're about one more bad week away from renaming this feature the weakness rankings. In the meantime, let's power up and see how the Big 12 teams compare this week.

#1 is dead.  Long live #1!
#1 is dead. Long live #1!
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

I sincerely hope that the Big 12 doesn't overreact if it doesn't produce a great team this year and is left out of the playoffs again.  Right now it's looking like a conference without a dominant team (which it is) but it's not particularly far removed from having a ton of potential as the Longhorns and Frogs continue their youth movements and Oklahoma bounces back (because they always do).  As embarrassing as it would be to left out of the playoff two out of three years, remember how close we were to having two teams in the first one, and unless Alabama or LSU wants to hop over, there is no slam dunk expansion candidate that will make the conference better year in and year out.  It's ugly now, but the fate of the conference is too important to decide on the basis of one potentially bad season.  Now, let's get into the rankings!

1.) West Virginia Mountaineers (2-0), previous ranking: #2

This may honestly be the first time for the Mountaineers to take the top spot in the FoW Big 12 power rankings since their inception, so congratulations to West Virginia!  Not only have they bested each of their opponents, they had the good sense to take the week off last week to attempt to avoid the worst of the Big 12's non-conference curse.  West Virginia is far from perfect, as they still don't appear to have much in the way of big play capability, but they're still looking like the most complete offense and defense pairing in the conference so far.  Still, next week will be the biggest test of the non-conference schedule to date as BYU heads to Morgantown fresh off of two heartbreaking losses against the cream of the Pac 12 south.  This will be a good eye opener for the Mountaineers as they get their first look at a strong dual threat QB.
Next week: Vs. BYU Cougars

2.) Oklahoma State Cowboys (2-1), previous ranking: #3

The Cowboys showed some serious resolve in coming back from a soul crushing loss against CMU last week in order to take on a likely coastal division contender in the ACC and stay fight through some early adversity.  Oklahoma State has explosive plays aplenty, and the defense held up well against one of the best backs in the nation from 2014, but the offense has proven inconsistent, alternating three and outs with quick strikes that turn into touchdown drives.  The biggest difference this year is that the Cowboys seem to have found a cure to some of their red zone issues in RB Rennie Childs, who totaled four rushing TDs, three coming in the red zone.  If the Cowboys can keep their offense from stalling in the red zone (and keep from being one dimensional) they may end up with the conference's best offense- which gives them as good a chance to win the Big 12 as anyone at this point.  
Next week: @ Baylor Bears

3.) TCU Horned Frogs (2-1, 1-0), previous ranking: #4

The Frogs hop up by one spot in the rankings after taking an early lead in the conference standings by trouncing Iowa State.  Kenny Hill showed that he's still a great talent, but has a penchant to start slow and really benefits from rhythm and tempo in the offense after the Frogs pick up a first down.  Kyle Hicks also tacked up probably his best performance in purple so far, going over 100 yards rushing and picking up two TDs, despite the severely limited offensive playbook.  Perhaps most encouraging on the offensive side though was the performance of John Diarse, who showed great hands, a penchant for breaking the first tackle and almost went over 100 yards for the first time.  Defensively the Frogs were a bit hit and miss, but did shut down ISU's key receiver Lazard, holding him to just one reception for nine yards and allowed only one play of more than 40 yards- a definite good sign before both SMU and before Big 12 play gets serious.  The sour note for Saturday was a nasty looking injury to TCU's do-it-all weapon Kavontae Turpin, if he can't play that definitely cuts down on the big play options for the Frogs against SMU and possibly a good deal longer.  Get well soon, Turpin!
Next week: @ SMU Mustangs (I know I argue with everyone about this every year, but why is this still a home and home thing?)

4.) Texas Longhorns (2-1), previous ranking: #1

"The West remembers."  It took just over a decade, but the Cal fanbase finally got to relieve its frustrations on UT for Mack Brown's politicking for the 2005 Rose Bowl bid, and did so in a particularly satisfying fashion.  The Longhorns offense was again impressive, significantly outgaining the Golden Bears, but the mistakes that the Longhorn signal callers made, combined with some undisciplined play and a suspect secondary, dug the Horns a hole too deep to climb out of.  Texas was clearly the more talented team on Saturday, but it simply didn't matter- and if not for a Cal player lazily dropping the ball at the one yard line (and the refs screwing up the call that followed) the score could have been worse.  Charlie Strongs latest Texas team still has an acre of potential, and could grow into something very frightening by years end, but right now the young talent is still too inconsistent for the Horns to hang onto one of the top three spots in the power ranking.
Next week: Bye

5.) Kansas State Wildcats (1-1), previous ranking: #6

Bill Snyder's purple cat team throttled a bad team last week, and didn't show that they'd shored up their potential weakness in creating big plays... and yet, here they are in the top 5, due to the Big 12 not being particularly good.  Oh dear.  One of the top teams in the Big 12 this year managed just over 159 yards passing against a bad FAU team.  What a time to be alive, man.  Fortunately the Wildcats will get one more shot to try and get the passing game going before Big 12 play as they welcome the last of the conference's FCS opponents to Manhattan this weekend.
Next week: Vs. Missouri State Bears

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

Thank goodness Louisiana Tech's offense took a little bit to get warmed up, because once the Bulldogs got going there was nothing the Raiders could do to stop them on defense.  Honestly, this is probably the most Texas Tech-y Texas Tech team that I've ever seen.  The offense is darn good (particularly the Mahomes part), while the defense is bad to the point where it legitimately hurts to watch.  Tech has the potential to flux up and annihilate someone ranked above them on this list, while also seemingly equally capable of getting smoked by one of the teams beneath them.  They are chaos personified- but they also have the week off.
Next week: Bye (O/U- 70)

7.) Oklahoma Sooners (1-2), previous ranking: #5

He may still have it in him to do the job as the high man, but I don't think Stoops really has the gift for defense that he showed when he started as coach of OU.  Two times now he's come up against an Urban Meyer run heavy spread with plenty of time to prepare, and two times now he's come up well, well short.  Yes, Ohio State recruits better than anyone who isn't Bama, but with the amount of talent they lost last year, they should not be good enough to just romp over OU by three touchdowns in Norman.  And now OU finds itself at 1-2, the same record as Kansas, and near the bottom of the power rankings, and there's really not much more you can say about the situation yet.  Yes, Ohio State is good and Houston should be at least decent, but... losing by three TDs at home?  When it would've been four if not for referee incompetence?  Yeah, it's not good.
Next week: Bye.

8.) Kansas Jayhawks (1-2), previous ranking: #8

Kansas' offense is really, truly putrid.  Kansas ran 71 offensive plays and averaged 4.5 yards per play.  Pretty bad.  If you take away KU's one big 66 yard play, and the average drops to 3.6 yards per play, which is putrid.  Throw in two picks, a few lost fumbles and a rotation of three ineffective QBs and you get an offense that fits in with the rest of the Big 12 like a tomato in fruit salad- sure, it technically belongs, but it kind of ruins the good time for everyone else.  Poor damn Kansas.  At least they got that win, though!
Next week: Bye

9.) Iowa State Cyclones (0-3, 0-1), previous ranking: #9

I don't think Iowa State really knows who it wants to be yet, which on some level makes sense when a team gets a new coach, but also means that this rebuild in Ames is going to take longer than coach Campbell likely anticipated when he took the job.  ISU's two QB system seems to confuse the offense more than it sparks them, and the Cyclones two biggest offensive weapons from last year have not been put in the best position to be successful yet.  The defensive scheme is sound, but the speed and talent is lacking in the secondary for the cyclones to be running the 4-2-5 at the level needed to be effective against Big 12 offenses.  A realistic goal for Iowa State is to make a bowl two out of every four years, but this year it seems much more likely that the Cyclones will win zero games than ISU finding a way to even sniff four, much less 6.
Next week: Vs. San Jose State Spartans (Booooooo)

10.) Baylor Bears (3-0), previous ranking: #10

Every week I expect to bump the bears in these rankings, and every week they find new ways to surprise and disappoint me.  Even Jim Grobe, who was brought in specifically to run a clean program for a year, has been shockingly incompetent in that regard.  And when anyone related to your program starts saying things like the guy who has committed at least two acts of violent assault and has been indicted on sexual assault charges is "Just a great guy in a bad situation", I honestly don't want to spend any more of my time discussing their football team than I have to.  Baylor delenda est- and the sooner, the better.
Next week: Vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Agree?  Disagree?  Think I should actually talk about Baylor football?  Let me know in the comments- but I'm still not going to do the last one, screw those guys until they clear out every bit of the festering legacy of the Art Briles regime.