Nine Big 12 Conference teams took part in five games that were decided by a grand total of 25 points this past weekend, providing for wild entertainment and subsequent good conversation. Here's this week's attempt to make some sense of things,which, after the smoke cleared, really has started to show two distinct groups despite close contests.
1. Baylor Bears (6-0, 3-0) -- Most teams would be done trailing big to one of the best teams in the league late in a game. Baylor isn't most teams, but it is the best team in the Big 12. Was it pretty? Nope. Was it a testament to the Bears refusing to lose? Yes. And, maybe most importantly, a win like this one against TCU goes toward building that invincible aura that can propel a team to large-stage greatness.
2. TCU Horned Frogs (4-1, 1-1) -- Gary Patterson and his Frogs were 11 minutes away from crashing not just the Big 12's party, but the national scene's as well. It was obvious against OU that TCU is legit this year, and the Baylor game only strengthened that notion. A golden opportunity was lost in Waco, that's true. But, should Baylor stumble, TCU has supplanted Oklahoma as the team waiting in the wings.
3. Oklahoma Sooners (5-1, 2-1) -- Oklahoma took a 1-2 punch to the face over the past two weeks, and the staggered Sooners still have to face Baylor later this year. A defense that appeared to be among the nation's best early this season has given up 33, 37 and 26 points over the last three games, and Trevor Knight has been ordinary at best. In fact, if he didn't have Sterling Shepard (who is responsible for 714 of Knight's 1503 passing yards and four of Knight's 6 TD completions), there's no telling just how average OU's offense would be at this point. Teetering, OU plays K-State in Norman on Saturday.
4. Kansas State Wildcats (4-1, 2-0) -- Coming off a bye, the Wildcats are faced with the daunting-on-paper task of heading on the road to face Oklahoma. It's a make-or-break game of sorts for K-State, which can do its part to continue OU's recent slide down these power rankings. Travis Green's knee injury opens up a spot in a secondary that appeared to be gelling quite nicely, and that could be a bit scary as the Big 12 largely treats any sign of a weak pass defense like a chainsaw handles a Sharknado.
5. Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-1, 3-0) -- Is it time to pump the brakes a little regarding OSU? After a noticeably sluggish effort at home against Iowa State, the Cowboys went to Lawrence and symbolically laid an even bigger egg - needing a fourth-quarter kickoff return touchdown to escape with a seven-point win. Mike Gundy has repeatedly cautioned anyone who will listen that his team is young. It's hard to remember things like that when you see a team ranked nationally mid-year, but the fact is this team has shown it isn't very far from stubbing its toe pretty darn hard in the coming weeks.
6. West Virginia Mountaineers (4-2, 2-1) -- Fat and happy after feasting on KU and Texas Tech, the Mountaineers start a three-game stretch against teams currently ranked between No. 4 and No. 15 nationally. WVU has had two solid showings against Alabama and Oklahoma, but the difference between "fun/entertaining" vs. "good" is the scoreboard. The jury is still out on this intriguing bunch, and it will swing a lot of Top 25 votes in a hurry with a home win against Baylor.
7. Texas Longhorns (2-4, 1-2) -- Since the calendar flipped to September, the Longhorns have one win - against Kansas. Still, Texas has been more competitive of late and nearly righted a whole lot of wrongs by barely losing to OU. The defense will keep the team in a lot of the final six games, and it will be up to Tyrone Swoopes to continue to grow and lead the offense to the point that wins begin to happen for Charlie Strong.
8. Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-4, 0-3) -- Really interesting game on tap for the Red Raiders this week as they host Kansas. Saying this bottom-feeder game is interesting validates my Big 12 sickness, but I have my eye on this game because, frankly, I don't believe in what Kliff Kingsbury is or isn't building in Lubbock, and losing at home to downtrodden KU would open some eyes. Overall, TTU needs this game because a glance down the remaining six games shows perhaps only one or two more wins barring a surprise.
9. Iowa St. Cyclones (2-4, 0-3) -- After two hard games against Baylor and Oklahoma St., ISU got a small gift in a mid-year winnable contest with Toledo, which it took advantage of. The season-long uphill battle continues this week in Austin, a massive challenge for a challenged offense going up against one of the best defenses in the nation. Maybe the Cyclones can catch Texas coming off a bit of a hangover following the OU game?
10. Jameis Winston's decision-making -- Can somebody please, PLEASE explain to the Florida State Seminoles quarterback the concept of a whole being greater than its parts? Winston and his enablers want to point at each instance and make the case that none of what Winston has done or been involved in is that serious. Perhaps, but when there are 100 issues, the stress weight adds up no matter what after time. The young adult, his dad, his coach or his university just can't or don't seem to want to acknowledge that because responsibility is hard, y'all.
11. Kansas City Royals substitute Jarrod Dyson's bravado -- It tickles me when a role player, a non-starting role player, feels the need to voice his or her bravado like the little brother or sister hiding behind the bigger person in the middle of the fight. Dyson mouthed off this week, saying the Baltimore Orioles also have the feeling that the American League Championship Series won't head back to the East Coast with the Royals up 2-0. Is the swag deserved? Absolutely. Kansas City has taken the MLB playoffs by storm. But, should Dyson be the one to pipe up? No, and anyone who has been on a team or in a locker room in this situation understands that ... except Dyson and all others who never seem to know their place.
12. Kansas Jayhawks (2-4, 0-3) -- It was an honest-to-goodness good job and good effort for the Jayhawks, who were within sight of knocking off a Top 25 opponent. It gives a reason for some optimism. The concern, however, is that as a season wears on and losses continue under ran interim coach, it gets harder each week to bring the effort necessary to compete. A lot of things are working against KU at this point, but if this group truly has figured something out that it can hold on to under Clint Bowen, then perhaps a win in Lubbock is possible.