1. No. 3 Oklahoma
The Sooners are sitting pretty through four games, putting up nearly 45 points per game while allowing just over 16. Everyone knew redshirt sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight would come back from a rough start, but what has to be most encouraging for Oklahoma is its run game, led by freshman Samaje Perine and sophomore Keith Ford, which averages 222 rushing yards per game. This is a balanced team that many predict will represent the Big 12 in the College Football Playoff.
2. No. 7 Baylor
The Bears’ offense is No. 1 in the nation, for good reason. Redshirt senior quarterback Bryce Petty is near the top of the Heisman watch list and the offensive line has kept him upright, not allowing a single sack on the year. The real surprise for Baylor is how well its defense has played this season, although against some sub-par teams. They allow only 13.8 points per game and rank in the top five in the nation for sacks and tackles for loss.
3. No. 23 Kansas State
If it weren’t for three missed field goals against Auburn, the Wildcats would be a top-15 team in the country. But that’s the way things went, and, although they lost, there were some positives. Senior Jake Waters is handling the quarterback position much better than last year, throwing and running with efficiency while the defense is playing well. Head coach Bill Snyder has them playing well, and while they could easily be upset by almost any team — sorry, Kansas — in the conference, they can also beat anyone.
4. Oklahoma State
The Cowboy offense showed last Thursday against Texas Tech it can put up points with Daxx Garman at the helm. Coupled with senior running back Desmond Roland in the backfield, the Pokes’ offense is getting better every week. However, the Cowboys aren’t great at any one position, which limits their upside.
5. No. 25 TCU
After a disastrous 2013 season, TCU is the surprise of the Big 12 so far. The Horned Frogs have quietly snuck themselves back into the top-25 with a dominant 57-0 shutout of SMU. They also crushed a Minnesotta, a team that blew out Michigan in the Big House. There are still some questions about how good they really are, but head coach Gary Patterson’s bunch is much better than many expected. However, the undefeated Horned Frogs won’t be perfect for much longer as they play Oklahoma and Baylor in back-to-back weeks.
The Longhorns are making steady improvements, but they aren’t ready quite yet. Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is making great strides, but with a shaky offensive line and inefficient run game, there will be too much pressure on him as the going gets tough with games against Baylor and Oklahoma over the next
7. West Virginia
Nothing has changed for the Mountaineers since last week; they aren’t bad, but, at the same time, they aren’t very good. They played close games against both No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma, thanks to the play of redshirt senior quarterback Clint Trickett, but they also let Maryland hang around. With Kansas and Texas Tech coming up, West Virginia may be able to build some momentum before a home matchup against Baylor.
8. Texas Tech
Sophomore quarterback Davis Webb is still really good. In fact, he may be the Big 12’s best quarterback. However, the Red Raider defense is still atrocious. The defense is allowing over 38 points per game, which includes contests against the likes of Central Arkansas and UTEP. A good offense can only take a team so high; a bad defense can drop it really low.
9. Iowa State
A tough early season schedule has the Cyclones at just 1-3 with conference season underway. There aren’t many bright spots for the Cyclones, and the schedule doesn’t get much easier with Oklahoma State coming into town.
After getting shut out by Texas, the Jayhawks fired head coach Charlie Weis. That may be a step in the right direction, but their talent level won’t get better any time soon.