Kansas State is certainly not the most glamorous team in the conference, but it may be the toughest and most physical. It forced Oklahoma into three turnovers, and ran for over 200 yards while holding the Sooners to just 88. The Wildcats have the week off as they enter the easiest part of their schedule with games against Kansas and Iowa State. Kansas State will have to be ready for the end of the season though as its road game against West Virginia is one of four games against ranked foes to end the season.
The Mountaineers had a tough time against Maryland, which limited West Virginia’s potent offense to 363 yards while piling on 351 on the Mountaineers’ defense. Even more concerning for the Mountaineers is that they were only able to run for 25 yards against the Maryland defense. If West Virginia cannot remedy its defense and run game then it will have a tough time against the offenses in the Big 12. Saturday’s home game against an explosive Baylor team will be important one for the Mountaineers to see where they stand.
The Longhorns had the week off to nail down what went right on offense and what went wrong on defense against Ole Miss. Texas had its highest offensive output since hanging 70 points on Colorado in 2005. However, the defense gave up a 75-yard touchdown pass, a 48-yard touchdown run and an uncharacteristic 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Texas defense came into the season with lots of hype, but has had a tendency to give up big plays, and has the unfortunate habit of committing drive-extending personal fouls. The task gets a lot tougher this week as the Longhorns go on the road to take on Oklahoma State.
The Sooners experienced a setback on Saturday as they fell at home to Kansas State in a poor offensive showing. Oklahoma was done in by turnovers and its inability to get anything going on the ground. Additionally, its defense was unable to stop the Wildcats on the ground and only managed one tackle for loss and could not register a sack. The Sooners’ lofty preseason expectations seem to have given way for doom and gloom up in Norman. Also, Landry Jones has not been able to become the Heisman candidate that some had expected.
The big problem for the Horned Frogs comes in the red zone. TCU is No. 117 in red zone efficiency so far this season. The Horned Frogs have only managed to score on 56 percent of their trips into the red zone and they have developed a habit of turning the ball over when they get close to the end zone. TCU goes on the road to play SMU before diving completely into conference play in October. TCU will have to take advantage of its scoring opportunities if it wants to have a chance to win the conference.
The sixth spot in the conference is essentially a toss-up between Baylor and Texas Tech. The Bears get the nod for going on the road and beating a Louisiana-Monroe team that may be the best in program history. The Bears have an offense that can challenge any team in the conference and are probably more vertical than any other Big 12 team. But the big issue for Baylor is its lack of defense. La.-Monroe actually outgained Baylor last Friday, and were if not for three turnovers, that five-point game might have gone the other way.
The Red Raiders got bumped down a little for not having played anyone worth mentioning. Their defense seems to be improved, having only allowed three touchdowns so far this season while leading the nation in total defense (yes, that stat is correct). But the Red Raiders’ offense is still rolling and makes up one of the four Big 12 teams in the top five nationally in passing offense. The Red Raiders also lead the nation in first downs, averaging 35 a game. Texas Tech gets its first test of the season with a road trip to Ames to play an Iowa State team that is capable to beating high profile teams at home.
The Cowboys rebounded two weeks ago with a win over outmatched Louisiana-Lafayette. The Cowboys’ offense is one of the best in the country, but it was held in check by Arizona in its first year under Rich Rodriguez. After leading the conference in turnover margin last season, Oklahoma State is No. 105 in turnover margin this season, which has left its defense exposed. Oklahoma State will have to make sure its defense is ready for a Texas offense that is starting to click and its offense will need to avoid turnovers if it wants to beat Texas for the third consecutive season and have a chance to repeat as Big 12 champions.
The Cyclones are 3-0 for the second consecutive season, and for the third time in last ten years. With the Big 12 as strong as it has been in years, the Cyclones need to take as many games as they can at home if they wants to return to a bowl game. This weekend’s game against the Red Raiders is one of the few games on the schedule not against a ranked opponent. Iowa State is third in the conference in total defense and with Texas Tech leading the nation in total defense, Saturday’s game should be a defensive slugfest. Actually, scratch that. This game should be a high-scoring affair, same as every game in the Big 12.
After starting the season off with a win, it’s all been downhill for Kansas. The Jayhawks are last in the conference in scoring and total offense, and in the bottom third of the conference in total defense. The addition of Charlie Weis and Dayne Crist have not provided good results as the Jayhawks are only averaging 21 points a game. Kansas has a week to prepare for its next game against in state rival Kansas State. It’s going to be difficult for Kansas to stay out of the basement in the Big 12, but with so many unlikely results every year in college football, who knows what kind of surprises the Jayhawks can manage over the next two months.