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Big 12 Football Power Rankings – Week 8

There’s finally some movement near the top of the table in the Big 12 power rankings, and arguably it should have happened a week or two ago. Baylor won in impressive fashion again this week to remain undefeated and leap Texas, which narrowly survived Kansas.

Elsewhere this week we started to see the actually good teams separate themselves a bit more from the paper tigers, with Iowa State and Oklahoma State on the move in the middle of the pack. The picture is becoming more clear as to the dividing line between good and bad in the Big 12.

1.     Oklahoma (LW: 1) Another week, another dominant performance for the Oklahoma offense. The only negative this Saturday for OU was the near disaster for the Sooner Schooner. Jalen Hurts posted the most ridiculous stat line of the year in this weekend’s win over West Virginia: He went 16-of-17 passing for 318 yards and three touchdowns, plus 75 yards rushing and two scores on 10 carries. That’s one incompletion and five total touchdowns. Plus, the Oklahoma defense played another strong game, shutting out West Virginia in the second half.

 

2.     Baylor (LW: 3) Matt Rhule is one of the best coaches in America. What he has done with Baylor, regardless of what the Bears do the rest of the season, is a masterstroke in coaching. Baylor has a strong defensive unit, which was on full display this weekend when it held Oklahoma State to its second-lowest point total of the season (27) in Stillwater. The offense can go, too, with Charlie Brewer putting up averaging 18.4 yards per attempt in a win. Decent. Not only that, but the Bears ran for over 200 yards on six yards per carry this weekend. They can pass, they can run and they can defend. This Big 12 is a two-team league at the top right now, and Baylor has cleared the “bottom” eight teams by a solid margin.

 

3.     Texas (LW: 2) Texas survived a couple losses in the No. 2 spot, but giving up 48 points at home to Kansas is going to look bad, regardless of how well they’re playing and the final result. The UT offense is just fine, as it put up 50 in a win over KU, but the Longhorns have turned into this year’s version of last year’s Oklahoma, where the defense can’t be trusted to preserve good efforts from the offense. At some point the defense needs to tackle someone in a big spot.

 

4.     Iowa State (LW: 5) The Cyclone have now put together three quality games in a row, and a big reason why they’ve emerged offensively in recent weeks is Breece Hall, the Wichita native who is tearing defenses to shreds. The freshman has 315 yards rushing at a clip of seven yards per carry in the last two games, and against Texas Tech he had 256 yards from scrimmage on 22 touches. Brock Purdy had another strong game, too, with 318 yards and three scores. If that combination stays hot then the entire Big 12 needs to watch out, including the two teams at the top of the table.

 

5.     Oklahoma State (LW: 4) The Cowboys are struggling mightily in Big 12 play. They’re just 1-3 in league games and are averaging just under 30 points per game against conference foes. That’s not enough with a defense that struggles to stop anyone. Chuba Hubbard is still phenomenal (he another 173 yards and two touchdowns against Baylor) but Spencer Sanders needs to bounce back in a big way after throwing for just 4.9 yards per attempt in a losing effort at home.

 

6.     Kansas State (LW: 6) K-State got off the schneid in a big way on Saturday by knocking off TCU. It wasn’t pretty and much of the game wasn’t particularly exciting, but bowl eligibility doesn’t depend on style points. The defense deserves a lot of credit for making crucial stops late in the game. And, in general, if you can hold a physical team like TCU to just 17 points you’ve done a good job. The Wildcats’ Week 8 win was also important because a loss would have essentially guaranteed a four-game losing streak (K-State plays Oklahoma next weekend).

 

7.     TCU (LW: 7) On the bright side, Max Duggan is a major threat with his legs and, as a whole, the Horned Frogs can move the ball well on the ground. As for negatives, TCU is really bad at pushing the ball downfield through the air. Duggan and Alex Delton combined to throw for just 138 yards on 31 attempts this weekend, and that’s not going to be enough to win conference games regardless of how well your defense plays (and that unit played reasonably well against K-State). Jalen Reagor absolutely needs more than nine touches on offense if TCU wants to hang with most teams in the Big 12.

 

8.     Texas Tech (LW: 8) Texas Tech ran into Iowa State at a bad time, as the Cyclones seem to have figured things out while the Red Raiders are still searching for some answers. Tech was horrifically inefficient moving the ball through the air on Saturday, with Jett Duffey averaging a measly 4.6 yards per attempt. It doesn’t matter what your identity is, you can’t win Big 12 games if you struggle in the passing game to that degree. There are winnable games against Kansas and West Virginia the next two weeks, but it will still be a challenge for the Red Raiders to face both on the road.

 

9.     West Virginia (LW: 9) There’s no shame in getting boat-raced by Oklahoma because nearly everyone gets boat-raced by Oklahoma. West Virginia didn’t put up a fight outside of the second quarter on Saturday, though, and Austin Kendall’s weaknesses are only highlighted more when he’s so heavily relied on because the Mountaineers can’t run the ball. Consecutive weeks with only 14 points scored isn’t a good sign as the season progresses. WVU has to find some way to get more points on the board.

 

10.  Kansas (LW: 10) Moral victories are meaningless in the long run, but there’s no denying that Kansas looked like a brand new team (offensively, anyway) in its loss to Texas on Saturday. New offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon called a great game in his debut, with Carter Stanley putting up a season high in passing yards and Pooka Williams recording a season high in rushing yards. The Jayhawks will need to win eventually to really show progress, but if they can harness the firepower they played with this week for the long run, even the worst team in the Big 12 will be a scary team to play.

For past editions of the power rankings, click here.


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