We’re finally through week four of the season, and bascially everyone has played at least one conference game (TCU hasn’t yet played a Big 12 game, and Baylor somehow has played two). So now it’s time to try and start ranking the teams in a totally scientific and practical matter that works out to put KU in 15th place. Yeah, science. And totally not just because we included the new teams (as well as Coastal Carolina (again)), because we were going to include the new teams anyway.
The Cowboys started off sluggish, but a 4-0 start with a wins over Boise State (in Boise) and K-State are easily the best among the Big 8 crew. But they are still on shaky ground, and next weekend welcome in a surprising Baylor squad to Boone Pickens Stadium. It sure must be nice to get to open Big 12 play so often at home.
2. BYU Cougars
The Cougars could have easily taken the top spot, but they’ll need to wait for their Oct 16h game at Baylor before they’ll have a required Big 12 win to take the top spot. BYU is 3-0 versus the Pac-12, but nearly let a mediocre South Florida team come back this past weekend. Next up is a contest against Utah State that the Cougars should win.
The Sooners are 4-0, and that’s about the best thing you can say about them right now. Tulane came about a foot short of a potential upset bid, a sorry Nebraska program threatened all game, and West Virginia held a 13-10 lead into the 4th quarter before giving up two field goals in the final period. But the Sooners are still the Sooners, and OU still has plenty of talent to get the ball quickly rolling in the right direction. But they will have to figure things out fast, as they are headed to Manhattan this weekend.
4. Baylor Bears
The Bears might be the biggest surprise team of the early going. After a closer than expected win over Texas State, Baylor came out and blew out their next two opponents (Texas Southern and KU), before pulling out the victory against Iowa State this past weekend. The Bears will put their new-found Top 25 ranking to the test this weekend, as they head north to face the undefeated Cowboys.
The Bearcats have started the season 3-0, with blow-out wins over Miami (OH) and Murray State, before needing some halftime adjustments to pull away from Indiana on the road in week three. Cincy took this past weekend off, and hopefully the took advantage of the extra prep time, because a trip to South Bend to face the Fighting Irish is looming this weekend. A win over the golden domers would shoot the Bearcats up the rankings and cement them as a Top 5 team nationally.
6. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
The Chanticleers are again 4-0 to start the season, and are finally getting some recognition nationally while sporting a Top-20 ranking. Blow-out wins over Citadel and KU at home, followed by a strong win over Buffalo in New York and another blow-out win at home against UMass are proving the Chants weren’t just a Covid-influenced flash-in-the-pan. Sun Belt action starts this weekend, with Coastal hosting the Warhawks of Louisiana-Monroe.
The Longhorns find themselves here in the middle of the pack where they’ve lurked for the better part of a decade. Their lone trip outside of the state of Texas was a disaster, as they got railroaded by their upcoming (and former) conference mate Arkansas. They bounced back to destroy Rice, before playing a no-defense shoot-out against a bad Texas Tech team (that they still managed to win 70-35). The Longhorns are still very much suspect, and this weekend head north to arch-nemesis TCU.
8. Houston Cougars
Houston would be higher on this list if they hadn’t dropped that season-opening head-scratcher to Texas Tech. But seeing the result of the 28-20 win over Navy this past weekend makes it seem like Houston is headed for a down year once AAC play gets going in earnest. We’ll know for sure this coming Friday, as they head north to Tulsa to face a Golden Hurricanes team that has pushed some decent teams to the brink already this season.
Woof. What a difference a week makes. Had we done this exercise last week, the Wildcats would have been sitting in the top spot. But a poor showing in Stillwater drops the Cats to the bottom-half of the league, both in these rankings and the actual standings. And it wasn’t just a loss, no the Wildcats looked terrible for much of the game in all phases. They’ll need to get things figured out quickly, as the Sooners are in town this weekend and will be looking to get a wildcat-sized monkey off their back.
10. TCU Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs are sitting way down here because 1. they haven’t played a Big 12 game yet, and 2. they lost to SMU this past weekend. TCU is 2-1, and has a good win over Cal, but the Frogs do not look like the terror they once were under Gary Patterson. Their first Big 12 game is this weekend, as they host the Longhorns, and will need to be ready because Texas will likely be looking to snap a losing streak against TCU.
The Mountaineers are an interesting team. At 2-2, it would be easy to write them off, but they lost their opener to a good Maryland team, before bouncing back a couple weeks later to defeat a good Virginia Tech team at home. And just this past weekend, at held a lead against OU before the Sooners squeaked out a win in Norman. The ‘Eers are a decent team, they just need to put all the pieces together. And their next chance is this weekend against Texas Tech.
If it’s surprising how good Baylor is, it might be equally surprising just how bad the Cyclones have been so far this season. Matt Campbell returned nearly everyone to a team that finished runner-up in the Big 12 last season, and were expected to repeat that performance this season and legitimately challenge OU for the league crown. But right now the Clones are 2-2, struggled against Northern Iowa (again), got crushed by Iowa (again), and their best win is over a average UNLV team. They’ve at least got a home game against KU this weekend. Pretty hard to screw that up, right?
13. UCF Golden Knights
The Golden Knights are 2-1 so far on the season, but won their opener against Boise State, and nearly came back against a decent Louisville team this past weekend. The Knights should pick up wins in their next two games (at Navy and versus East Carolina), but the real test will be their road game against Cincinnati in a few weeks.
14. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Why is a team that’s 3-1 so far down the list? Because getting shellacked by Texas definitely devalues beating Houston and Stephen F. Austin (who, admittedly, is one of the best FCS programs in the nation). This is probably a knee-jerk reaction more than any of the others, but Tech should not be giving up 70 points to the Longhorns, especially while only putting up 35. Goodness. A strong showing against WVU this weekend could move them back up, even with a loss, but their defense better make the plane to Morgantown.
15. Kansas Jayhawks
About the best thing we can say about KU right now is that they will not have another win-less season. South Dakota tried, but the worst Dakota school failed to take down the Jayhawks in week one, and so KU is only 1-3 so far this season. Progress. But they still got torched by Coastal Carolina, Baylor, and even a bad Duke team. There’s still a long way to go in Lawrence. They’re headed to Ames this weekend to take on Iowa State, and the Clones have a habit of making this game must more interesting than it should be. Not that a K-State fan site would root for KU to win a game, but it would be hard to deny the hilarity of the Jayhawks escaping Ames with the upset.