Welcome to the roller coaster that is the Big 12 Conference.
Last week we were in a dark place after the Cats lost to Tulane and that other school did things. Well we’re back with mirth this week thanks to the chaos that happens around here on a regular basis.
And yes, if you weren’t aware, K-State is the real reason that OU is
running away from leaving the Big 12. If you can’t beat ‘em, run away. Right, Texas?
1. Kansas State
Yep, that’s right. And guess what, it’s 100% an earned boost this week. The Wildcats have won in Norman in back-to-back attempts, becoming just the second team to do that in the at least the last decade. That other team? The Kansas State Wildcats in 2012 & 2014. I bet the Wildcats would’ve had a longer streak had they played every year from 1996-2010...
Chris Klieman is now 3-1 versus the Sooners during his tenure in Manhattan, and all three wins have come against a Sooners squad that had been ranked in the Top 10. The Wildcats get the boost for beating the previously-ranked #6 team and preseason Big 12 favorite in their own house...again.
Next up is a visit from the sneaky Red Raiders. They needed overtime to beat both Houston and Texas at home, and struggled in their first road trip earlier this season.
The Bears get a big jump this week for also opening Big 12 play on the road and beating the home team. Iowa State isn’t on the same level as OU on any planet, so no way for the Bears to leap past K-State, but it was a good win for Baylor, and gives them a better win than anything KU has at this point of the season. Baylor still has some things to work out to match last year’s win total, but they are getting better. Next up for the #16 Bears is a visit from #9 Oklahoma State in a rematch of the 2021 Big 12 Championship Game.
Look here, I ranked you punks #1 last week, but it’s going to take more than squeaking by Duke to keep your spot. But the Hawks are still 4-0 for the first time since 2009 (when they went on to finish 5-7, LOL), and two of the three wins have come agaisnt teams in Power 5 conferences. It looks really good on paper, but the eye-test says something different. Jalen Daniels and the Jayhawks may finally have their luck run out this weekend, as they welcome in an Iowa State team that is looking to avenge their loss to Baylor.
4. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys move down this week solely because they decided they needed a bye week this early in the season. Or the Big 12 decided for them. Either way, they didn’t play, and it’s hard to move up when you don’t make any noise for yourself. OSU is back in action this week as they head to Waco to face off against the Baylor Bears, and they’ll be looking to avenge their loss in last season’s Big 12 Championship.
The Horned Frogs blasted out to an early lead against SMU, and went up 28-7 in the 2nd quarter before the Ponies started to close the gap. But the Frogs were able to keep SMU at arms-length all night, and headed back across the metro with a very nice 42-34 win to improve to 3-0. Thankfully it was a short trip, because they need all the time they can get to be ready for the Sooners to come to Ft. Worth this weekend.
The Sooners offense is good. They can put up points in a hurry. But their defense does have enough flaws that K-State was able to exploit to put up a lot of points of their own. TCU doesn’t have a QB that can stretch the field on the ground like K-State does, so expect the Sooners to have a bit better time against this week’s purple foe. That and they’ll be looking to avoid consecutive losses, an extreme rarity in the past 20 years. It will be interesting to see how well Brent Venables can rally the troops after their first set-back.
7. Texas Tech
The Red Raiders needed a late comeback and overtime to beat Texas in Lubbock this past weekend, and needed two overtimes to get past a pretty below-average Houston squad — also in Lubbock. But unlike many of their Lone Star brethren, they have actually ventured out of the state already once this season. But (like Baylor) they lost their only road game to NC State (who actually just cracked the Top 10 this week, despite the Red Raiders being their best win). Manhattan may be a little more familiar than Raleigh, but Tech hasn’t beaten K-State at all since 2015, and hasn’t won in Manhattan since Mike Leach beat Ron Prince in 2008.
The Bearcats move past BYU this week just because they actually beat a Power 5 team (I mean, it was Indiana, but still...). Now they need to do something useful outside the city of Cincinnati. Their next chance at that is this weekend against a 2-2 Tulsa team that always has a chance to be a trap game. The Golden Hurricane did just hang with Ole Miss, including taking an early lead in Oxford before falling apart in the 2nd quarter. So the Bearcats will need to be ready, but expect them to start their final season in the American at 1-0.
Beat somebody, anybody, with a pulse outside of Provo and we’ll talk about getting the Cougars moved back up the list. Sure, they beat USF in Tampa to open the season, but the Bulls are 1-3 and just got pantsed by Louisville. Yes, the Cougars are 3-1, but beating Wyoming at home in Provo does do move the needle much. And they get another easy one in Provo this weekend with Utah State headed south sporting 1-3 record, with their only win coming over UConn in week one in Logan.
10. Iowa State
Maybe a bit low to put the Cyclones, but that’s really more of a testament to the teams above them than what the Clones have or haven’t done. Yes, they fall this week after losing their first of the season, at home to Baylor, but they’ve already got that pesky win over Iowa under their belts, so it’s a good season in Ames...right? But seriously, they’ll need to pull it together this week, as they’ve got to head down to Lawrence to face a decent-looking Jayhawks teams at a suddenly resurgent Memorial Stadium (I wonder if they found enough port-a-potties for last week’s sellout?). Iowa State should win this game, but they’ll need to find their offense if they want to maintain pace with the Hawks.
The Knights did what they were supposed to against a pretty terrible Georgia Tech squad (that just fired their head coach and AD), so no movement for them this week. Again, it’s hard to move a team up when they just really haven’t played much of anybody, and took a loss to the one team of note on the early schedule. Also, somehow the Knights have managed to have their first six games of the season in Florida, and five of those in Orlando. Must be nice. Next up is a visit from SMU, and UCF had better watch out, because the Mustangs will be looking to get back on track after losing to TCU.
TEXAS IS BACK...at the bottom of these rankings. No, not losing to previously 1-win KU bottom, but close enough. The Longhorns have looked okay enough at home, but their best win is over UTSA, and at times they struggled with the Road Runners. Against Texas Tech this past weekend, they gave up a 10-point halftime lead, and then needed a late field goal to tie the game back and send it to overtime. Then on the very first play of OT, Bijan Robinson took a helmet to the football and coughed it up, and all the Red Raiders had to do was not screw it up. Presumably, the Longhorns should get back above .500 this weekend with a visit from West Virginia, who is also 2-2. Maybe before the game they can commiserate about their stupid losses to KU.
13. West Virginia
Well don’t look know, but the Mountaineers are on a winning streak. Of course those wins have come over Towson and terrible-looking Virginia Tech, but it’s sure better than losing to KU...even goodish KU. The ‘Eers will look to keep their streak alive against Texas, and it’s possible that Neal Brown could save his job with a win in Austin. Because even with a two-game win streak, his seat is still piping-hot.
After a two-week foray into the pits of despair, the Cougars finally got back to .500 with a win over Rice. And it wasn’t exactly pretty, either. There were six lead changes, and Houston needed a fumble recovery for a TD in the 4th quarter to pull out the 34-27 victory. Over Rice. Yikes.
The Cougars get back at it early this week with a Friday night matchup against Tulane. The Green Wave actually lost this past weekend to Southern Miss in New Orleans. The Golden Eagles were able to do something K-State wasn’t, which was score points in the second half, overcoming a 17-10 hole in the 3rd quarter to win 27-24.
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