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Big 12 power rankings: Blown smoke & broken mirrors

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kliff Kingsbury is making a prorated $1.5 million this season after a contract extension he signed in August. For our purposes, let's say he made the $1.5M all year. That's $18,292.69 per point his team allowed to TCU.

That's almost as nuts as Alabama donors.

To the rankings ...


1. TCU Horned Frogs (6-1, 3-1) -- It takes a unique set of circumstances to score 82 points in a conference game -- like the opponent is coached by Kliff Kingsbury, for example. But, it takes talent to shovel that much dirt on a dead carcass, and Gary Patterson's bunch moved a mountain of it. Trevone Boykin had 785 total yards and 7 passing TDs as TCU had a 400-yard passer, two 100-yard rushers and a 100-yard receiver in the same game. TCU has had so much offense this year that it ran out of fireworks -- after budgeting for 30-40 TDs -- and has to order enough for two more home games.

"Defensive back Dante Barnett had the best game of his career, helping lead a stellar [K-State] defensive effort."

2. Kansas State Wildcats (6-1, 4-0) -- Program win No. 500 came in grand fashion as the Wildcats recorded their first conference shutout at home since smoking Missouri 66-0 in 1999. Defensive back Dante Barnett had the best game of his career, helping lead a stellar defensive effort that took a lot of attention away from quarterback Jake Waters, who looked more like a guy trying to preserve himself against additional harm than the guy who played with reckless abandon through the first half of the season. Let's call that situation "developing" because if Waters runs dry, so does any shot at a Big 12 title run.

3. Baylor Bears (6-1, 3-1) -- A week off probably came at a good time for BU, which saw its improved defensive unit, which still leads the Big 12 in total defense (325.3 ypg) suddenly spring leaks the past two games and give up 485 (TCU) and 456 (WVU) yards; not to mention the team's obscene 215 penalty yards in Morgantown. Not that any of it will matter in a home game against Kansas, which will serve as a comfy starting place for the Bears to try and fight their way back up the national polls from No. 12 - the lowest rank Baylor has been this season in either poll.

4. Oklahoma Sooners (5-2, 2-2) -- The Sooners had a week off to sit and stew over a 1-2 record over their past three games. The way OU is playing right now, going to Ames is no gimmie, and a loss would put Oklahoma at 2-3 in the league in November. The record will improve by year's end with Tech, KU and Oklahoma State on the slate, but it's a "meh" year in Norman now.

5. West Virginia Mountaineers (6-2, 4-1) -- With each win, it's hard not to look back and wonder where this team might be had it been able to beat Alabama or Oklahoma. Clint Trickett is second in the Big 12 in total offense behind Boykin, and the Mountaineers have good balance in the run game with sophomore running backs Rushel Shell and Wendell Smallwood. This team has won four in a row, but it isn't good enough to win the conference. That said, it will be a serious headache for other top teams for the remainder.

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-3, 3-2) -- After being just average against the league's worst three teams (average margin of victory against Texas Tech, Iowa St. & KU: 11.3 points), TCU and West Virginia put the Cowboys in their place. And, a third-straight Top 25 opponent -- a fundamentally sound one -- is in store in Manhattan for a Cowboys team that isn't especially good at anything.

7. Texas Longhorns (3-5, 2-3) -- "Could you ever believe I ended up at Texas?" Those are the words of one Charlie Strong, according to a get-to-know-me Sports Illustrated article from last July. It's reasonable to expect Texas will finish the year 5-7, but Strong told the media this week that it's easy to sell recruits on the idea of early playing time. Necessary or not, the player purge this year helped wreck his first season, and if a couple of big recruiting classes don't fill most of those gaps AND the record doesn't improve, Strong's detractors will be quick to ask: "Could you ever believe Strong coached at Texas?"

8. Iowa St. Cyclones (2-5, 0-4) -- Having played three Top-25 teams in seven games, you would think things would be a bit easier for the Cyclones moving forward. But, nope. Three more ranked teams (OU, West Virginia and TCU) lie in wait. Half your schedule against the Top 25? Such is life in the SEC Big 12.

9. Brady Hoke's stake-out and Jimbo Fisher's ability to shape solid human beings.

10. Alabama Crimson Tide donors: What do you give a coach who you've already sold your soul to in the form of just short of $7M per season to coach college football? Why, you go ahead and pay off the remainder of his $3.1 million mortgage. Alabama, in case you were wondering, checked in as the fourth-poorest state as recently as September. My state is going broke, but you Alabama people are crazy. Just plain bat-poo crazy.

11. Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-5, 1-4) -- Tell me whatever you want, no Power 5 team should ever, EVER, lose like Tech did to TCU. The Frogs blew away the smoke and cracked the mirrors on Kliff Kingsbury's "program," and there's no happy ending in sight; not with Texas, Oklahoma, at Iowa State and Baylor (in Arlington) left in this season. But hey, Kirby Hocutt, Teddy KGB says pay dees man hees mahnee.

12. Kansas Jayhawks (2-5, 0-4) -- The ONLY reason KU remains at the bottom of this ranking is because it lost by double digits to Texas Tech. But really, that conversation is akin to wondering if Dede Mulligan gave you clams or crabs. KU didn't win in October, and it won't get November off to a good start having to play in Waco.