Welcome to the first edition of the 2022 Bring on the Cats Big 12 Power Rankings. Remember that this isn’t a ranking of how good a team actually is, and these aren’t standings. But it’s very much a “what have you done for me lately” kind of ranking, and it’s not 100% serious. So feel free to be enraged regardless.
I very nearly didn’t write these up this week, and was fully planning on waiting until we had three games under our belts this season to properly sort things, but after a classic #collegefootballsaturday that included an epic El Assico in Iowa City and some nonsense in Morgantown, I decided to go ahead and break it out a week early. So let’s dive in and power-rank the Big 12!
Yup, BYU is 2-0 on the season and managed to knock off #9 Baylor in Provo in double-OT. The Cougars open the season at 1-0 in Big 12 play, a mark that will stay unchallenged the rest of the season. Next up is another tough challenge as BYU heads to Oregon to take on the Ducks in the Autzen Zoo.
2. Kansas State
I contemplated putting Texas Tech here, but K-State gets the nod this week for thoroughly dominating Missouri on a rain-soaked day in Manhattan. K-State’s defense has not allowed a touchdown in 120 minutes of football (I absolutely refuse to acknowledge what happened at the end of the game against a third-string defense that assumed, correctly, that the game was over). Up next is a visit from Tulane, who is 2-0 on the season, but has played UMass and FCS Alcorn State.
3. Texas Tech
The Red Raiders gave up a 17-3 halftime lead to #25 Houston and needed a last-second field goal to force overtime, but managed to hold the Cougars to a field goal in the second overtime period before scoring a touchdown to take the victory. Also, LOL at Tech fans for rushing the field after the game. Your team went to (and won!) a bowl game last season, and it was just Houston. Next up is a trip to Raleigh, NC to face off against NC State.
Yes, seriously. For the first time since 2009 the Kansas Jayhawks are 1-0 in Big 12 play, and for the first time since 2011 they have started the season 2-0. Lance Leipold has really worked some wonders in Lawrence, and if he can keep it up it’s entirely possible that it will be his last season in Lawrence (especially now that Frost is officially out in Lincoln). Next up for the ‘Hawks is a trip to Houston to face the Cougars.
The Sooners haven’t done anything wrong, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been exceptional in any way. OU is 2-0, but struggled early against Kent State and fell behind 3-0 before finally waking up just before halftime to cruise to a 33-3 win. And they won’t face a stiff test until they open Big 12 play against K-State on Sept 24th, because next up for the Sooners is the trainwreck that is Nebraska.
A 38-13 win in Boulder to open the season was a decent start to the Sonny Dykes era in Ft. Worth. They followed that up with a 59-17 drubbing of FCS Tarleton State this past weekend to move to 2-0 on the season. The Horned Frogs get an early bye week this week before heading across the metroplex to face off against SMU on the 24th.
Like their Sooner State companions, the Cowboys haven’t done anything wrong, but they haven’t exactly looked good to open the season. They opened the season nearly allowing Central Michigan to come back and steal a win in Stillwater, and then fell into an early 3-0 hole themselves this weekend to Arizona State before finally waking up for a 34-17 win. Next up is a break game, as they welcome in FCS Arkansas-Pine Bluff to Stillwater to close out their non-conference slate.
8. Iowa State
Iowa State started the season 2-0, and now holds the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the first time since 2014 — way back when Paul Rhoads was still the head coach in Ames. The Cyclones last three wins in El Assico have come in Iowa City, and the 69th playing was particularly brutal. The Clones pulled out a 10-7 victory in regulation, thanks to Iowa kicker Aaron Blom brutally shanking a last-second field goal that would’ve forced overtime. Next up for Iowa State is a visit from the Bobcats of Ohio. Can they stay undefeated?
You know what? The Longhorns might not be soft as Charmin anymore. Sure, they fell to Alabama in a preview of their future in the SEC, but the ‘Horns held a late lead against the #1 Crimson Tide, and Bama needed a last-second field goal to escape Austin with the victory. So Texas isn’t #back, but they are looking like they may finally not be the joke that they’ve been for the better part of a decade. Next up for the Longhorns is a tough contest against UTSA. The Road Runners have played in a combined four overtime periods in their first two games, narrowly losing to Houston and barely beating Army this weekend.
I’m giving Texas the benefit of narrowly losing to Alabama in regulation over Baylor losing to BYU in overtime. And the Bears win over FCS UAlbany isn’t exactly inspiring either. We won’t really know if Baylor is really going to challenge for the Big 12 crown again until they travel to Ames on Sept. 24th. Next up for the Bears is a home match-up versus Texas State in Waco. The Bobcats might actually put up a fight, so the Bears to need watch out so they aren’t the next victims of the #FunBelt.
Houston’s double-OT loss to Tech drops them to third of the 1-1 teams, especially with the Cougars being ranked and the Red Raiders not. But despite Houston’s hopes for the playoffs being dashed, they are still a good team that could make a lot of noise this season. We’ll know a lot more about them this coming weekend against a KU team that appears to be quietly getting better.
The Bearcats lost to Arkansas in Fayetteville to open the season, quickly dashing their hopes at a repeat of advancing to the CFP. And a home-opening win over FCS Kennesaw State is nothing to write home about, at least not enough to move them in front of any other 1-loss teams above them. Next up is a visit from the Redhawks of Miami (OH), and anything is possible when #MACtion is involved.
The Knights are the last of the 1-loss teams this week, with a win over FCS South Carolina State to open the season followed by a loss in Orlando to Louisville. Can’t lose at home to an un-ranked Cardinals squad and expect to move up this list. UCF started slow last season, and it’s looking like the same this season. Next up is a trip down the Atlantic coast to Boca Raton, where they will face off against Florida Atlantic.
The Tigers looked intriguing after beating Louisiana Tech, but fell flat on their face when they had to play a Big 12 team.
15. Texas A&M
The Aggies fell victim to the #FunBelt, despite spending millions on their head coach and roster, and over a million to bring Appalachian State to College Station. But they are still 1-1.
The Buffs are 0-2 after falling to TCU in Boulder and getting bombed by Air Force in Colorado Springs. Might not want them back in the Big 12 after all.
17. West Virginia
What an epically terrible way to lose your conference opener – falling to KU at home on a pick-6 in overtime. The Mountaineers nearly lost it in regulation after surrendering a 14-point lead to fall behind by 14, then needed a 4th-quarter comeback to force overtime. And then after surrendering a touchdown to open overtime, they nearly lost on an incomplete pass that was at first ruled a fumble. But then it got so much worse, as the very next play JT Daniels’ pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. WVU is the lone team to start the season 0-2, and Neal Brown’s seat has to be feeling white-hot after showing a negative progression in his four seasons in Morgantown.
At least Nebraska finally fired Scott Frost, but decided not to wait until his buyout dropped in three weeks. Maybe should have just fired him at the end of last season...