After a few weeks of stability at the top, we have a new number one in the power rankings, as the Wildcats return to the top spot for the first time since week 4 — when they beat the Sooners in Norman for their first win over a Top 10 team this season. Fitting they return after their second Top 10 win of the season.
We had a good shakeup this week through the middle with a Cincinnati loss and we saw the addition of ECU, who has wins over UCF and BYU already this season, and still has Cincy and Houston on the docket.
The biggest mover this week was absolutely the Cowboys, who will sit in the corner this week and think about what they did, or rather didn’t do this weekend — score any points at all as a Top 10 team against a lower ranked team. History, baby!
1. Kansas State
I absolutely maintain what I said last week: when completely healthy, the Wildcats might be the best team in the conference. And that was never more apparent than during the incredible 48-0 blowout of the then-#9 Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday. The Cats hit on all cylinders in every facet of the game in the rout, and put themselves back on the clear path towards a rematch with TCU in Arlington in December. There are still plenty of challenges ahead, but the schedule is favorable to the Cats with two more home games remaining in the final four-game stretch. The first of those comes this weekend with the Longhorns in town for Harley Day.
(6:00pm CT, FS1 (but maybe FOX))
The Horned Frogs fall this week after K-State’s stunning performance and their own lackluster-at-times effort against West Virginia on Saturday. In a show of what happens when the expected starter plays a complete game against TCU, the Horned Frogs needed touchdowns late in both halves to preserve the victory in Morgantown. The Frogs are good, and good teams overcome when they aren’t playing their best, and so they are still the expected to be the “home” team at the Big 12 Championship game. Next up is a visit from the Red Raiders in what should be their easiest game left this season.
(11:00am CT, FOX)
The Green Wave took their bye week this week, and thanks to Cincinnati’s loss to UCF, are now all alone atop the standings of the American as the sole unbeaten team in conference play, including wins at Houston and over a sneaky-good East Carolina team. They’ve got a trip to Tulsa on the docket this week, and they’ll need to stay focused instead of trying to look ahead to a visit from UCF the following week or their stay alone at the top will be short-lived.
(11:00am CT, ESPNU)
The Longhorns get a bump this week because they didn’t lose to BYE this season. No injuries, no stripper monkeys, nothing of note out of the 40 Acres this week for the first time in a while. Wild. Anyway, the Longhorns are a better team with Quinn Ewers at QB, despite the loss to Oklahoma State the week prior, and with a week off to get healthy and prepare they should be ready to try and get themselves back in the discussion for Arlington this weekend against the Wildcats.
5. East Carolina
We welcome the Pirates to our rankings this week after the purple and gold swashbucklers knocked off BYU in Provo on Saturday. It’s their second-straight win over a Big 12 newcomer this season, and their third straight win overall since a road loss at powerhouse Tulane. They will look to make it three straight wins over Big 12 newcomers next week after their bye as they head back out on the road, this time heading up to the home of Skyline Chili to face the Bearcats.
The Bears ended Texas Tech’s home mystique on Saturday with a convincing 45-17 win over a Red Raiders squad that couldn’t quite seem to figure out who was supposed to play quarterback. The Bears blasted out to a 24-3 lead in the third before the Red Raiders finally started to come alive. But it was all Bears in the fourth, with a 21-point run that included a pick-6 off the arm of the Red Raiders backup QB. They’ll be looking to keep their win streak rolling as they stay on the road this week, heading north to face the Sooners.
(2:00pm CT, ESPN+)
The Cougars are quietly rebuilding their season after their early struggles, and have won their last three since their loss to powerhouse Tulane to end September. And they’ve been wins over good teams, including two road games. They’ll look to keep that win streak alive with a tough road game this week as they venture up I-45 to face off against SMU in Dallas.
(6:00pm CT, NFLN)
Again, the Knights are pretty good when they get to play in Florida, which has been every game but one for them so far this season. They knocked off Cincinnati on Saturday 25-21, but nearly didn’t after giving up a go-ahead touchdown to the Bearcats with three minutes left in the game. But they managed to execute down the stretch, retaking the lead with just 48 seconds on the game clock, and then forced a turnover-on-downs to complete the victory. With the win, the Knights move into second place in the American standings behind Tulane, but it will be hard to hold on to that spot with two straight road games — neither in Florida — ahead on the schedule. This week it’s a trip to west Tennessee to face Memphis.
(2:30pm CT, ESPN2)
This might be too far to drop the Bearcats after just their second loss of the season, but UCF is the second-best opponent they’ve faced since their season-opening loss at Arkansas. That’s why they were stuck in 5th place for several weeks; their schedule just wasn’t that great. But starting this past weekend it certainly got tougher, and now they’ve got the Midshipmen headed to town this weekend... who are tougher than their 3-5 record would indicate.
(3:00pm CT, ESPNU)
It’s hard to move the Sooners up any further when their best win is still that home victory over KU two weeks ago. The Sooners defense gave up just 13 points to the Big 12’s worst offense, but it wasn’t exactly a banner day in Ames for OU. They even felt the need to break out some trickeration against the Cyclones, running a fake-field goal play late in the first quarter that saw the holder throw a forward-pitch to the kicker for a touchdown. Whatever it takes, I guess. They’ll probably need more of that this weekend as they host a much more offensively-competent Baylor squad. (and LOL at the “mighty” Sooners getting stuck on ESPN+ this week)
The Jayhawks were off this week and, like the Longhorns, surprisingly didn’t lose to BYE like they have so many times in the past decade. The Hawks are still just one game away from bowl eligibility, but opportunities to pick up that 6th win are fading fast. This week they host an Oklahoma State squad that will likely be fired up after the butt-kicking they got in Manhattan. Sorry KU, but we’re not sorry about that.
(2:30pm CT FS1)
12. Texas Tech
On the night that Patrick Mahomes was inducted into the Tech ring of honor, the Red Raiders finally dropped a home game this season and weren’t particularly competitive in the process. Having three quarterbacks throw five interceptions will certainly have that effect. It’s hard to blame the defense for giving up over 400 yards of offense and five touchdowns when the offense keeps giving the ball away. McGuire has some good things going out in west Texas, but they’re definitely still a year or two away from being consistently competitive. No rest for the weary, as next up they head east to Fort Worth. Expect another blowout loss.
13. West Virginia
The Mountaineers sure gave it all they had, but it just wasn’t enough against the talented Horned Frogs. They took an early led, and even recovered to tie late in the first half before TCU blitzed down for a score before halftime. Then they hung with the Frogs enough to close to within three points with four minutes left, and then snagged an interception on TCU’s next drive. But a 3-and-out (who punts down a score with three minutes left?) followed by a sustained touchdown drive from TCU ended the game once and for all. The loss drops WVU to 1-4 in Big 12 play and 3-5 overall, and with four games remaining (including two against ranked foes) it’s very likely that the ‘Eers will miss a bowl game in what may well be Neal Brown’s final season in Morgantown. Next up is their last good chance for a victory, as the head west to Ames.
(2:30pm CT, ESPN+)
14. Iowa State
The Cyclones did what they’ve done all year: played really good defense and really terrible offense — and they still covered the spread yet again. Matt Campbell’s offense has yet to find its groove this season, and they continue to waste the end of Xavier Hutchinson’s stellar career in Ames. Somehow they do have winnable games left on the schedule, with both West Virginia and Texas Tech still left to visit Ames this season, but at 3-5 overall, and games in Stillwater and Fort Worth left, bowl eligibility is basically off the table at this point. But to even think about that, they’ve got to beat WVU this weekend.
The Cougars continued their struggle through October with a 27-24 loss at home to ECU. They struggled on both sides of the ball in this one, and after taking a 24-17 lead in the 3rd, it was all ECU to the finish. With BYU unable to move the ball in the fourth, the Pirates needed just a last-second field goal to take the victory and avoid overtime in Provo. With the loss, BYU fell below .500 this season at 4-5, and will need to hope that Stanford’s struggles continue late in November or they might miss a bowl game for the first time 2004. And I say that because next up is a trip to Boise to face the Broncos, who are 5-0 in MWC play and 6-2 overall — and road teams always struggle on the blue turf.
(6:00pm CT, FS2)
16. Oklahoma State
Too low you say? No. When you make history for having the worst shutout loss as a Top 10 team to a non-Top 10 team in all of major college football history, well... you get to sit at the bottom of the rankings for the week. Sorry Cowboys, you deserve this.
Nothing went right for the Pokes on Saturday. Despite just three turnovers, the Cowboys offense could never move down the field, and never crossed the K-State 30-yard line all game. The longest play of the game came on a 22-yard desperation scramble from back-up QB Gunnar Gundy against the Wildcats 3rd-string defense late in the 4th. The defense held up a couple times, forcing four punts and two field goals, but never really had an answer for the Wildcats offense, which had three scoring drives with four or fewer plays and converted two fourth downs for touchdowns.
The offense should at least have a better time moving the ball against KU this week, and the defense will also look for a better showing against a good Jayhawks offense. At 6-2, the Cowboys aren’t out of contention yet, but they are stuck solidly behind K-State and TCU right now for a bid to the Big 12 CCG.
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