What a strange weekend.
Of course, it really shouldn’t be all that strange. This is the Big 12, and strange things happen. Time and space can be bent, the best teams can stumble against the worst, and somehow, some way, the conference teams can go 4-3 on a weekend and still feel like maybe it should have been 0-7. And that was with two intraconference games. Welcome to the Big 12.
The Sooners were off this weekend, and so didn’t give themselves a shot to trip over their own feet. That’s good news for the conference as a whole, because the fewer opportunities like that, the more likely it is that OU can stay in the Top 4 and end up in the College Football Playoff. And while that means we have to listen to more Sooner fans boast, it also means all the rest of the conference teams get a bigger paycheck at the end of the season.
The Wildcats were also off this weekend, getting rested and recharged before the start of conference play. The Cats still hold the best “on paper” win in the conference, and looked impressive doing so. Oklahoma State will be a real challenge in Stillwater next weekend, but for now K-State still feels like the second best team in the Big 12.
The Longhorns beat Oklahoma State on Saturday night to start 1-0 in conference play. But man, it sure felt like if the Cowboys could have gotten out of their own way they could have beaten the Longhorns. This 3rd spot still feels like a fraud. The Longhorns may be 3-1 and have the “best loss”, but they have yet to leave the state of Texas, and really, have yet to play a road game this year (no, playing Rice in NRG Stadium in Houston is not a “road game”). Until Texas plays a legitimate opponent outside the state of Texas — which may not happen this year with only trips to WVU and Iowa State requiring the Longhorns to leave Texas — I’m going to feel like UT is a bit fraudulent.
The Cowboys are 3-1, with their sole loss a close one in Austin on Saturday night. The Pokes have talent and some skill, but they are painfully sloppy to watch. Penalties slowed the Cowboys far more often than the Texas defense last night, and if they can get the mistakes cleaned up they could do something special. They may well play better at home, but the Pokes have only played one of their first four games at T. Boone Pickens Stadium, so we can’t be sure. Also, credit Oklahoma State for scheduling two road games in the non-conference (even if one was at Tulsa).
5. Baylor Bears
The Bears are still undefeated, but they did not look great against Rice on Saturday night. After the Longhorns, the Bears are my second-favorite pick for the “biggest fraud” award. The Bears may be 3-0, but they haven’t played anyone of substance yet — cupcakes aren’t real food. Baylor welcomes Iowa State next weekend, and if the Cyclones can get out of their own way, I expect ISU to hand Baylor it’s first loss of 2019. But these rankings are about whats happened, not what I expect to happen, so Baylor gets to stay at 5...for now.
The TCU vs SMU game this weekend was painful to witness. TCU’s vaunted defense had trouble slowing the Mustangs offense, and though they managed to score 38 points, the TCU offense looked, well, offensive for much of the game. The Horned Frogs have the pieces, but they lack direction on offense and it’s hurting the team overall. For Kansas State fans, this should feel eerily familiar to the last few years in Manhattan. I’m not saying Gary Patterson needs to go, but he should probably be in the market for a new offensive coordinator sooner rather than later.
The brutal loss to Missouri a couple weeks ago seems to have done more good than harm for the Mountaineers. After getting spanked by the Tigers, the ‘Eers have turned around and won two straight against Power 5 competition. No, NC State and KU are not powerhouses, but they aren’t cupcakes either, and the win this weekend in Lawrence easily could have gone to the Jayhawks. I don’t expect the Mountaineers to win many more games this year, but they at least showed they have the determination to be better.
The Cyclones shook off their slow start and exploded for a 72-20 victory over UL-Monroe this weekend. Except that after the first few series it felt as though this game was going to look like the Northern Iowa game to open the season. The Cyclones probably should have waited to un-cork this magic until conference play begins, but maybe they figured a few things out against Warhawks. Maybe.
“Didn’t play” may be the best thing that the Red Raiders could have done this weekend. This ranking feels a bit too low, but they did get beat by a mediocre Arizona team a week ago and I still can’t justify pushing them back up the rankings. So, for now the Red Raiders get stuck in the penultimate spot in the rankings, mostly because they didn’t do anything to move one way or another.
10. Kansas Jayhawks
My goodness. The Jayhawks couldn’t stay out of the basement for longer than one week. After getting some much-deserved props for beating a Power 5 team on the road last weekend, KU went a squandered probably their best chance for a conference victory, home or otherwise, on Saturday, making it highly likely that the kids in Lawrence will go 0-9 in conference play for the sixth time in the past decade. Miles to go, indeed.