Monday, October 1, 2012
Big 12 power rankings: Week 6
By David Ubben
Whole lot of fun this past weekend in the Big 12, with three of the four games coming down to the final possession. That's more like it.
Here's how I slot the league after five weeks.
1. Kansas State (4-0, 1-0, last week: 1) The Wildcats were off, but next week should be interesting. I'd argue Bill Snyder enjoys beating no team more than rival Kansas, and the Sunflower Showdown will be on in Manhattan this weekend.
2. West Virginia (4-0, 1-0, last week: 2) Geno Smith broke records and the hearts of Baylor's defensive backs on Saturday, but you have to be concerned a bit about the defense. Smith is out in front of the rest of the Heisman field by about a miles after throwing 20 touchdowns without his first interception. A much tougher Texas secondary and defensive line awaits in Austin this week.
3. Texas (4-0, 1-0, last week: 3) The Longhorns logged a huge win, but there's nowhere for them to go in these power rankings. WVU has looked pretty great every week, and hasn't allowed any room for the Longhorns to pass. We'll settle this on the field in a mammoth showdown between top-11 teams in Austin this week. Texas has tackling issues and didn't run the ball well until the final quarter at Texas, but can Jordan Hicks and Malcolm Brown getting healthy change that?
4. Oklahoma (2-1, 0-1, last week: 4) The Sooners were off this week, but a big test awaits in Lubbock. Oklahoma hasn't won there since 2003 and Texas Tech infamously ended OU's "Chase for 8" title run a year ago -- beginning the Sooners' gradual descent to the Insight Bowl. The Red Raiders, meanwhile, are undefeated and have a lot to prove. The Sooners do too, but this should be a great matchup that perhaps gets overlooked on the national scene with WVU-Texas and Georgia-South Carolina on the slate.
5. TCU (4-0, 1-0, last week: 5) I'm starting to wonder if TCU is in this spot on reputation alone. There's something to be said for winning despite playing sloppy, but TCU has been really, really sloppy. The rain was a factor, and SMU is a huge rivalry game, but the Frogs managed only 156 yards on offense. At West Virginia or Baylor, they call that a first quarter. The Frogs get a hungry, talented Iowa State team in Fort Worth this week.
6. Baylor (3-1, 0-1, last week: 6) You're kidding me if you think the Bears deserve to drop for going on the road and losing by seven to a top-10 team. Would any of the three teams below them have done any better? Doubtful at best. It's a tough loss for the Bears, but they're resilient, and dropping out of the top 25 for that seems a little unfair to me. The defense has a lot to work on, and the coverage was awful at times, but you can't ignore the offense. In that environment, it's really hard to score 63 points. I don't really care what the defense does.
7. Texas Tech (4-0, 1-0, last week: 8) Texas Tech got a huge road win on Saturday night, but let's still have a little perspective: The Red Raiders beat the No. 9 team in the league by 11 points in a game that was probably a touch closer than that. The defense is vastly improved and looked good on Saturday night. How much improved? We'll get a better idea this week when the Red Raiders host Oklahoma. Plenty of upward mobility is possible in both the polls -- Tech debuted at No. 24 in the coaches poll -- but the media remains unconvinced.
8. Oklahoma State (2-2, 0-1, last week: 7) Oklahoma State's two losses aren't that bad really, but two losses is a lot more than zero losses. OSU looks likely to rebound, but for now, you've got to slot them below Texas Tech. The Red Raiders haven't been tested like Oklahoma State has, but though it's unfair to say OSU failed its tests, they certainly didn't pass them. The Cowboys didn't have much of a dropoff with J.W. Walsh, who might be the league's best backup quarterback. The Cowboys are off this week before traveling to Kansas. Will Wes Lunt be back by then? My guess is yes, but OSU will be fine if he's not.
9. Iowa State (3-1, 0-1, last week: 9) The Cyclones couldn't make it three in a row against Texas Tech, but Iowa State may quietly have a case as the Big 12's best defense. We'll find out if that's the case as the season goes along, but they slowed a healthy, productive Tech offense in a big way. TCU this week in Fort Worth presents a different challenge, but Iowa State will have a chance to impress against a top-15 team it's definitely capable of beating.
10. Kansas (1-3, 0-1, last week: 10) KU was off this week, but the Jayhawks get back in action with a trip to Manhattan against K-State. The Wildcats have lit up the Jayhawks for 59 points in blowout wins in each of the past two seasons. How much better is Dave Campo's defense? This week will be a good measuring stick.