Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Final Big 12 Power Rankings
By David Ubben
Welp, this is it. The college football season is over, and two teams have closed up shop in the Big 12. This will be Texas A&M's and Missouri's last time to make an appearance in the Big 12 Power Rankings.
After 14 weeks of the regular season and eight bowl games (the Big 12 went 6-2), here's how the league sits.
1. Oklahoma State (12-1, beat Stanford, 41-38 in overtime): The Cowboys needed some help from Stanford's kicker to get their BCS win, but their spot atop the Big 12 was never at stake. The Cowboys proved themselves as the Big 12's best team throughout the season and beat Stanford to make history. Stillwater's never seen a season like this, and Mike Gundy was rewarded with a $1.6 million raise after the season for his efforts.
2. Kansas State (10-3, lost to Arkansas, 29-16): The Wildcats' Cotton Bowl experience wasn't a fun one after early mistakes, but K-State earned its first double-digit-win season since 2003 and earned the tiebreaker against Baylor on the field. Arkansas, too, is a whole lot better than Washington. This was a disappointing end for the purple folks from the Little Apple, but they bring back almost the entire core of the 2011 team. The Wildcats look like 2012 Big 12 title contenders.
3. Baylor (10-3, beat Washington, 67-56): The Bears put on a show and Terrance Ganaway's 200 yards, along with two other 100-yard rushers, iced the win over the Huskies. That gave Baylor the third 10-win season in school history and the first bowl win since 1992. Now, the big question awaits: Is RG3 gone, or is the allure of one more year in college for the Heisman winner enough to convince him to provide one more memorable season in Waco?
4. Oklahoma (10-3, beat Iowa, 31-14): The Sooners stumbled at the end of the season, but closed it in fine fashion, not playing their best game but soundly beating Iowa. Landry Jones will return. Will former DC and former Arizona coach Mike Stoops? Oklahoma's secondary was a liability this year, and Sooners fans would love to see Bob Stoops' brother put in charge to change it.
5. Missouri (8-5, beat North Carolina, 41-24): Missouri's season wasn't too memorable, but the Tigers rebounded from a 3-4 start to win eight games, including the best offensive performance of the season against the Tar Heels. That gave Mizzou eight wins for a sixth consecutive year. Only a handful of programs have duplicated that feat.
6. Texas (8-5, beat California, 21-10): The Longhorns' defense shut down the Bears and David Ash made a few big throws to make Texas' return to the postseason a good one. Ash has to show he's the guy for Texas moving forward. He'll get more offseason work than he did last year, which may show up in the fall. Freshman Connor Brewer will be joining, but it looks like a juco quarterback won't.
7. Texas A&M (7-6, beat Northwestern, 33-22): The Aggies head to the SEC after the most disappointing season in recent history. A team stocked full of NFL talent and toting a top-10 ranking lost four of its final five Big 12 games, with the only win coming at home over 2-10 Kansas. Now, new coach Kevin Sumlin returns to lead A&M into its new conference after coaching four years at Houston and winning 10 games in two seasons.
8. Iowa State (6-7, lost to Rutgers, 27-13): Paul Rhoads is already only the second coach to win a bowl game at Iowa State, but he couldn't win his second bowl in three years in Ames. Either way, the Cyclones have a good shot to be even better in 2012. Redshirt freshman Jared Barnett showed a lot of promise, and he'll progress during the offseason, even though he was benched in the bowl game for Steele Jantz, who started the season's first half.
9. Texas Tech (5-7, idle): A disappointing season gave way to a tumultuous offseason in Lubbock, with a handful of new assistant coaches and defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow heading back to TCU, who joins the Big 12 next season. The Red Raiders have to be better. Offensively, they were good enough, despite injuries, in 2011. They weren't great, though, like Texas Tech has been. Defensively, they've been awful for both seasons under Tommy Tuberville. Injuries have played a role in that, but improvement starts there.
10. Kansas (2-10, idle): Get ready to see much-needed new blood in Kansas. Turner Gill is out after two terrible seasons and a 2-10 record in 2011 that included six losses by at least 30 points. Now, it's time for Charlie Weis to take over, and he's brought two big quarterbacks and a receiver with him.