Monday, December 3, 2012
Big 12 Power Rankings: Pre-bowls
By David Ubben
Here's how I'd slot the Big 12 after the completion of the regular season. Only bowl games to go, folks.
Bottom line on these rankings: With five teams at 7-5, it might get a little messy in the middle. Not a lot of separation between No. 3 and No. 8, honestly.
1. Kansas State (11-1, 8-1 Big 12, last week: 1) The objective among us know Kansas State is the Big 12's real champion this season, but that was an impressive finish for the Wildcats, who beat Texas 42-24, despite trailing 17-14 midway through the third quarter.
2. Oklahoma (10-2, 8-1, last week: 2) Oklahoma deserves to win a "share" of the Big 12 title, but the postgame celebration and indignance is a little silly to me. Still, Oklahoma strung together another fantastic season and finished strong. Winning eight consecutive Big 12 games is not easy to do.
3. Oklahoma State (7-5, 5-4, last week: 3) Oklahoma State lost to Baylor, but they're clearly a better team than Texas to close the season, and Baylor's got a worse record in conference play. BU is playing well, but they're not the third-best team in the league. The Pokes need to rediscover their mojo in their bowl game.
4. Baylor (7-5, 4-5, last week: 7) When the Big 12 is this tight, you can make some moves. Three weeks ago, Baylor was No. 9 on this ranking. Not anymore. Baylor took it to a pair of really good teams in Kansas State and Oklahoma State, and survived a shootout with the Red Raiders. Nobody in the Big 12 is playing better football right now.
5. Texas (8-4, 5-4, last week: 5) Texas is backpedaling into the end of the season with two losses against TCU and K-State after playing solid ball for a month. The eight wins are nice, but you can't tell me Texas should be higher than this based on the way they finished the season. The Frogs and Wildcats outmuscled Texas, who is banged up and needs time to heal before the bowl game.
6. TCU (7-5, 4-5, last week: 4) What a weird first season for TCU. So many injuries and it's going to be waiting until 2013 for its first home win in its new conference home. Still, the Frogs have been salty and a tough out for anybody in the league. The Frogs finished strong, and might open next season as the Big 12 favorite, especially if Casey Pachall returns. I talked to a couple people around TCU on Saturday, and it sounds like Pachall is doing well in his treatment center and the door for his return to the program in the second semester and spring practice is wide open.
7. West Virginia 7-5, 4-5, last week: 8) WVU's five-game losing streak ceded to a two-game winning streak, even though both wins were over the Big 12's two worst teams this season. Yes, it's Kansas, but not many teams have spanked the Jayhawks like the Mountaineers did.
8. Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5, last week: 6) Texas Tech was idle this week, but the Red Raiders finished worse than any of the Big 12's seven-win teams. Four losses and an overtime win at home against KU? I can't get behind that. What a disappointing close to a promising early-season run in Lubbock.
9. Iowa State (6-6, 3-6, last week: 9) Iowa State was idle this week, and despite sitting solidly at ninth in the Big 12, the six-win season is a serious accomplishment in a deep Big 12. Paul Rhoads reaching a bowl game in three of four seasons to kick off his career is amazing. He's still one play away from making it 4-of-4, going back to that failed fake extra point against Nebraska in 2010.
10. Kansas (1-11, 0-9, last week: 10) Better luck next year, guys. The Jayhawks were better under Charlie Weis, but that was a sad closing effort against West Virginia.