Lillian Michel/ The Daily Texan
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the October 15 Double Coverage flipbook.
Ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll, the Sooners have found their way to the top 4 in search of a College Football Playoff bid by the end of the regular season. Oklahoma proved its dominance against a talented 4–2 Texas team at the Red River Rivalry with a 55-48 win over the Longhorns. Head coach Lincoln Riley has outcoached opposing unranked offenses by heading a defense that has recorded 381 total tackles and an offense that averaged approximately 471 yards per game. The Sooners’ win against Texas was the first ranked opponent they faced in the season, and Riley and team could face a rude awakening against potential playoff teams if they continue on the same trajectory.
2.Oklahoma State Cowboys
Like the Sooners, the Cowboys are undefeated heading into Week 7 against Texas. Head coach Mike Gundy has coordinated a run-pass option offense that has recorded 1,096 yards in the air and 796 yards on the ground. Oklahoma State’s defense has come up with 308 total tackles throughout five games and will look to improve upon that performance against a run-pass option Texas offense come Saturday.
With maybe one of the toughest schedules in the Big 12 this season, the Longhorns’ Week 2 matchup against Arkansas tested a new Texas team early. The Texas offense only produced 256 yards against the Razorbacks, but quickly turned around its performance with back-to-back 600-plus-yard offensive performances against Rice and Texas Tech. On the road, the Longhorns defeated TCU where newly named starting quarterback Casey Thompson took on his first Big 12 road matchup of his career. In Week 6, Texas dueled it out against the Sooners with an impressive performance, almost securing a win but ultimately being outcoached by Oklahoma’s Riley.
Baylor is 5–1 on the season with one loss to Oklahoma State in Week 5. Junior quarterback Gerry Bohanon has recorded 1,332 yards through six games and has a 66.2% completed passing rating. The Bears creatively exercise the run-pass option, as they have 1,372 yards on the ground this season and almost 1,400 yards in the air. On the other side of the ball, the Baylor defense has a combined 375 total sacks. The Bears’ performance against No. 19 BYU on Saturday will provide clarity to the legitimacy of the team this season.
5.TCU Horned Frogs
In two close losses to both Texas and SMU at home, the Horned Frogs are 3–2 on the season. Junior quarterback Max Duggan has produced over 1,000 yards in the air with nine touchdowns and only two interceptions. The defense has a combined 18 interceptions heading into Week 7 and 282 total tackles. Like Baylor, the Horned Frogs enjoy exercising the run-pass option and also have almost equal yards on the ground as they do in the air. TCU’s Saturday matchup against powerhouse Oklahoma will further solidify the 2021 Horned Frogs’ reputation.
6.Iowa State Cyclones
The Cyclones prepare to face the hardest stretch of their schedule in Weeks 7, 9 and 11 against Oklahoma State, Texas and Oklahoma, respectively. Senior Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy’s 71.2% completed passing rating and 1,133 yards in the air gives the Cyclones a leg up against opposing defenses, but the program struggled against the Iowa Hawkeyes in a Week 2 loss –– the Hawkeyes only accounted for 173 yards and won, comparable to the Cyclones’ 339 yards.
7.Texas Tech Red Raiders
A demoralizing 70-35 loss to Texas could define the Red Raiders’ season. Against the Longhorns, Texas Tech put up 520 offensive yards and gave up 639 yards to a Texas offense with a new man under center. In Week 6, the Red Raiders faced TCU in a 21-point loss and gave up 558 yards, 394 of which were on the ground.
8.West Virginia Mountaineers
The Mountaineers are 2–4 heading into Week 7, with an 0–3 conference record. With three back-to-back losses against Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Baylor, the Mountaineers look ahead to TCU after a Week 7 bye week in an attempt to find themselves in a better conference position. West Virginia has one of the most total team tackles across all Big 12 teams, and came seconds close to beating No. 4 ranked Oklahoma in Week 4.
9.Kansas State Wildcats
With zero wins in conference play, the Wildcats are searching for their first conference win against the Cyclones who are 1–1 in the Big 12. Kansas State’s most impressive win came in Week 1 against Stanford with a 24-7 win, 344 total yards and 53 total tackles. The Wildcats are just shy of 1,000 passing yards and are under 900 yards while rushing.
10. Kansas Jayhawks
Both Kansas programs are winless in conference play, and the Jayhawks look to find only their second win of the season against the Red Raiders on Saturday. Kansas begins to gear up for its hardest stretch of the season with future opponents in Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and TCU. Kansas quarterback Jason Bean leads the team in both passing and rushing yards, and has been sacked seven times over the course of five games.