We’re getting back to “normal” this week, albeit very delayed (sorry!), but that doesn’t mean the crazy has stopped. I’m tempted to do this thing in reverse order just for the hilarity (and to get to LOLUT faster), but I think I’ll save the best for last.
It’s hard to stay focused when you’re on top, but the Bearcats have avoided a letdown this season despite getting everyone’s best shot. But the CFP committee doesn’t see that, only the results that are closer than expected (hey, guess what, maybe you should actually watch the games). But Cincinnati has a big chance at a signature win this weekend as they have a big visitor from Texas. No, not the Longhorns, they suck and would likely hurt the Bearcats strength of schedule. I mean the Mustangs of SMU, who were ranked just a few weeks ago before dropping back-to-back road games against Houston and Memphis. Win big here, and shut up the haters.
The Cowboys were not very gracious hosts to the Horned Frogs this weekend, and pummeled them on the ground on their way to a surprising 63-17 victory. The Pokes didn’t even put up that many points on Kansas. Wowza. Speaking of which, I bet the Pokes wish they could have a do-over against Texas, considering they won by only 8 points (32-24) in Austin earlier this year. Despite the close loss in Ames earlier this season, the Pokes look like the best overall team in the (current-lineup) conference right now. But they’ve got to head to Lubbock this weekend, and face a Tech team that was just squirrelly enough this weekend to knock off Iowa State.
3. Baylor Bears
Well, the Bears sure bounced back from that surprising loss in Ft. Worth. It was close through much of the game, until Baylor turned it on in the 4th to pull away from the Sooners in Waco, something their Longhorn cousins were unable to do both against OU and KU. With the win, the Bears have put themselves in a strong position to make the Big 12 championship game, especially if the Pokes can handle their business down the stretch. However, the Bears have to travel to Manhattan this weekend, and Baylor has not done very well on the road this season and the Wildcats are playing their best football in some time.
Seriously, this OU team nearly lost to both Kansas and UT. What a joke. Good luck playing in the SEC when you struggle that much against the two worst teams in the conference. The Sooners are still technically in control of their own destiny, but at this point they need to win out to retain their spot in the Big 12 championship. But that will be quite difficult, as they’ll have an upset-minded Iowa State team visiting Norman this weekend, as well as a trip to Stillwater for Bedlam in a couple weeks.
5. Houston Cougars
Is Houston the best team in the state of Texas? I mean, it’s either them or the real University of Texas (the one in San Antonio). The Cougars are 7-0 in AAC play and have won nine straight games after dropping their opener to Tech. They have finally moved into the Top 25, and are poised for a matchup with Cincinnati in the AAC championship game (where they will likely become the Bearcats best win), but they first have to get through a tough Memphis squad in Houston this weekend.
6. BYU Cougars
The Cougars were off this week, probably thinking about how great it would be to get into the conference before the Longhorns leave so they can assert their dominance, so they don’t get to move either way this week. BYU is 8-2 on the season, and have a very good chance at 10 wins with Georgia Southern and USC left on the schedule. But they’ll have to avoid the west-to-east-coast lag since they are playing in Statesboro, GA this weekend.
The Wildcats are on an impressive 4-game win streak, but without a signature win over that stretch, it’s hard to move them higher on this list. The Wildcats are clearly playing very good football, but the four wins have come against four of bottom five teams in the conference (and they get a chance for that 5th one the Friday after Thanksgiving in Austin). Which is, actually, to be expected, considering they are currently in 5th place in the conference standings and the three losses are to team above them in the standings. The Wildcats will get that chance at a signature win this weekend as the #11 Baylor Bears are in Manhattan.
8. UCF Knights
UCF is rolling right along, and despite a tough loss in Dallas to SMU, are still poised for a strong finish to likely their penultimate season in the AAC. They’ve got a very favorable finish with visits from UConn and USF left (could only be easier if they had the Longhorns left on their schedule). Win out, and the Knights are 8-4 in Gus Malzahn’s first season in Orlando, and ready to elevate as they move to the Big 12.
A week after beating the Longhorns, which isn’t as cool as it used to be, the Cyclones lost to the Red Raiders out in west Texas on a last second 62-yard field goal (which would have been good from 70, it was ridiculous). The Cyclones may be 4th in the conference standings, but at 6-4 overall, they are actually tied with the team they just lost to (that sits in 6th) in overall record. Iowa State, for such a veteran-heavy team, has not done well on the road this season, and all three conference losses have come on the road. Their only good road win this season was in Manhattan, back before the Wildcats had things figured out. But they’ll have a shot at one last big road win, as they head to Norman this weekend.
10. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Color me impressed. A few weeks ago when Matt Wells was fired (and probably deserved it after losing to the lowly Longhorns 70-35 earlier this season), and the easiest games on their schedule behind them, I figured the Red Raiders were done for and ready to finish the season stuck at five wins. But they proved me wrong, upsetting the Cyclones in Lubbock to pick up that 6th win needed for bowl eligibility, and likely earn Sonny Cumbie a decent G5 head coach job (if Joey McGuire doesn’t try to get him to stay in Lubbock). Next up though expect Tech to come back to Earth, with the Cowboys in town looking to stay in the driver’s seat in the Big 12 race.
I really wanted to move the Mountaineers down, but Coastal’s loss was enough to drop them below the ‘Eers and keep the mountain people at 11 this week. West Virginia struggled against a resurgent K-State team this past weekend, and while they closed the gap in the late 3rd and early 4th quarters, it just wasn’t enough on the road to catch the Wildcats. At 4-6, WVU can’t afford to stumble in their final two games if they want to make a bowl game, and that starts this weekend with a Texas team that just lost to Kansas and is fighting for it’s own bowl life.
12. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Oh no Coastal, what are you doing? With Saturday’s loss to Georgia State in Conway, SC, the Chanticleers are effectively out of the running for the Sun Belt championship, and while at 8 wins already should still be in the running for a decent bowl game, it’s not quite the expected season for the defending Sun Belt champs. The Chants are, however, still in very good position to get to 10 wins on the season with Texas State (no, not the Longhorns, who Coastal would likely smash at this point) and South Alabama (who have combined for 8 wins this season) left on the schedule.
13. TCU Horned Frogs
A week after a stunning upset over Baylor, the Horned Frogs turned around and completely crapped the bed against Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The Frogs gave up 63 points to a Cowboys offense that has often struggled to put up points in bunches. The gave up eight(!) rushing touchdowns and nearly 450 yards of rushing offense (and would have been 450 if not for Ethan Bullock’s lone rush for -3 yards). I know the TCU defense has struggled this year, but YIKES. The Frogs are now 4-6 on the season, and have a KU team coming to Fort Worth that is up off the mat for the first time in a decade. They need to beat the Jayhawks (something their Longhorn cousins were unable to do) to keep their slim bowl hopes alive.
14. Kansas Jayhawks
I couldn’t tell you the last time the Jayhawks were not at the bottom of this list. Congrats KU, for at least one week you’re officially not the worst team in the conference. A win on the road in conference play for the first time since 2008 will do that for you. Maybe don’t wait another 13 years before you do it again. Next up for the Beakers is a trip to Ft. Worth to face the struggling Horned Frogs. KU doesn’t have anything to play for but pride at this point, but they better not let the hangover from beating the Longhorns in Austin get to them, otherwise they’ll fall right back to the bottom.
15. Texas Longhorns