Big 12 Power Rankings

Wes Maulsby

1.Kansas State: The Wildcats’ control over the national rankings didn’t last long. A road trip to Waco against the struggling Baylor Bears proved too much for Kansas State to handle. Baylor dominated the line of scrimamge to the tune fo 342 yards against a defense that had given up just 709 rush yards throught the first seven conference games. Meanwhile, KSU’s offense was forced out of its comfort zone and was only able to gain 76 yards on the ground. The one thing that has almost alwas been on the side of Bill Snyder-coached teams was an edge in mental toughness. But when Kansas State cut Baylor’s lead to 11 with 12 minutes to play in the third quarter, Baylor responded by scoring 17 unanswered points, breaking the Wildcats and sealing the upset.

2. Oklahoma: The Sooners survived the Mountaineers’ best shot in Morgantown to escape with a one point win. Oklahoma was able to slip by with two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the game to survive the Mountaineers. Tavon Austin looked like a Heisman frontrunner against the Sooners. He racked up 426 yards in offense with 146 yards in kick returns on top of that. Fortunately for Oklahoma, quarterback Landry Jones had a lights-out game with 554 yards passing and six touchdowns against just one interception. The Sooners have two games left including Bedlam against the Cowboys this week.

3. Texas: The Longhorns had the weekend off and missed out on all the chaos that was spreading throughout the nation. Knowing the Longhorns, they should count themselves lucky for skipping that. Texas has had a week to build off a solid win over a scrappy Iowa State team at home. The Longhorns still have a lot to play for as the season winds down. Texas is two wins away from a 10-win season — the first since 2009 — and could find itself in a BCS bowl if Oklahoma loses once more.

4. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys have quietly crept their way back up the conference rankings with wins in five in their last six games. Oklahoma State is fresh off a big win over sliding Texas Tech. The Cowboys’ defense held the Red Raider offense to 383 yards and forced three turnovers. This resurgence has taken place while having to shuffle different quarterbacks due to injury. Oklahoma State is suddenly in a very good position as far as the postseason is concerned. A win over Oklahoma could lead to a potential four-way tie for first place in the Big 12 this season.

5. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are far from the level they showed against West Virginia. They have lost three of their last four games, with their only win coming at home against Kansas in overtime. Texas Tech only has one game left against Baylor,  which is fresh off a win over the No. 1 team in the country. This could work in the Red Raiders’ favor if Baylor is not able to recover both physically and mentally from last week’s win. The Red Raiders will need help if they want to stop the bleeding.

6. Iowa State: The Cyclones used a 28-point second quarter to put away Kansas last week, keeping the Jayhawks winless and putting themsleves in contention for a bowl berth. Iowa State is now 6-5 with a home game agaisnt West Virginia to finish the season. The Cyclones have a chance to notch seven wins for the first time since 2009.

7. TCU: The Horned Frogs have lost four of their last six games for a 3-4 record in conference play. While TCU leads the confernece in total defense, its 20 turnovers is the most in the conference. This has given opposing offenses short fields which is why TCU is allowing 30 points per game in confernece play. But TCU gets Texas in the middle of a turnover drought, having only forced nine on the season while giving it up just seven times. But there are always lots of turnovers in TCU games, so something’s got to give.

8. Baylor: Fresh off a win over the former No. 1 team in the BCS, the Bears’ hopes have skyrocketed. With two games left, the Bears have a chance to get to seven wins after losing their first four conference games. Baylor’s offense had always been potent, but its defense finally stepped up and stopped Collin Klein, the Heisman frontrunner, who was forced into three interceptions. Baylor now has to worry about forgetting this massive win and recovering for its next two games. It still has work to do to become bowl eligible.

9. West Virginia: The Mountaineers are officially hemorrhaging. They have lost five straight games and cannot seem to get over the hump. Even with Tavon Austin and Geno Smith returning to the kind of form against Oklahoma that made West Virginia a Top 5 team, the defense cost it once again. The Mountaineers are allowing 51 points per game in conference play and gave up 50 to the Sooners. They get Iowa State and Kansas to end the season. Losing to both would put this horrid season  among the most historic of collapses, though that’s unlikely.

10. Kansas: The Jayhawks have given up at least 41 points for the third consecutive game. Since holding Texas to 21 in late October, Kansas has allowed a total of 153 points over the last three games. The Jayhawks have one game left, against West Virginia, to get a conference win. Losing that game would secure one of the worst seasons for a Big 12 team in recent memory. It’s not very sunny in Lawrence right now.