The Big 12 had a mini-playoff of sorts over the weekend, with team #1 in strength last week hosting team #4, and team #2 hosting team #3. The top two teams won, possibly giving an idea of who will fight in the Big 12 Championship match.
However, that’s not all, and in the conference, where the best teams in the league can lose out to teams at the bottom of the conference. While only one team remains undefeated in the conference standings, two of them have one loss each, with both teams playing this weekend. This should bring some clarity in a league that isn’t particularly strong on this; the last-place team in the conference is just a few points away from 3-1 in league play with two wins over the top four teams.
Here’s a look at this week’s Big 12 Power Rankings as the league moves into Week 9.
1. TCU (7-0, 4-0 Big 12)
Previous rank: 1
The Horned Frogs have been incredibly injury prone—not a very appropriate expression—when it comes to opposing quarterbacks. And while Kansas State’s reserve player Will Howard played pretty well, TCU went 7-0 after a 38-28 win in which Kansas State played most of the game not only with its reserve quarterback, but even with its third hitter. However, TCU deserves credit for rallying after a 28-10 deficit and scoring the final 28 points of the game. Not only are TCU still undefeated, but the Horned Frogs have taken down two top rivals, making TCU look pretty strong in the title race.
2. Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1)
Previous rank: 2
The Cowboys aren’t far behind TCU, with Oklahoma State’s only loss this season to the Fort Worth Horned Frogs in double overtime. Last weekend, the Cowboys added a bit of room closer to the top by eliminating Texas in a game that saw the Cowboys trail in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma State isn’t as elite on defense as it was a year ago, and the Cowboys may not be as good overall, but Oklahoma State was well trained and adventurous. This weekend’s game in Manhattan will decide which team controls its own destiny to qualify for the Big 12 championship game.
3. Texas (5-3, 3-2)
Previous rank: 3
Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Texas led the fourth quarter of the big game before faltering on the stretch. The reasons for these losses aren’t always the same, but Texas scored 31 points in the first half and only added a field goal in the final 30 minutes to lose 41-34. Of course, it didn’t help Texas a 14-0 penalty loss (and, more importantly, 119-0 yards), but the biggest hit came in a passing game where the Longhorns weren’t clear as Quinn Evers converted just 19 .of 49 passes with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Texas has an open date this week.
4. Kansas State (5-2, 3-1)
Previous rank: 4
It was difficult to decide what to do with the Wildcats after the loss last weekend. On the one hand, given the injuries, losing to the current top team in the league is not upsetting. On the other hand, even with these reasons, it was strange to raise the state of Kansas for losing by 10 points, even if Texas also lost. Never mind: The Wildcats still have games against Oklahoma State (this weekend) and Texas to give Kansas State a chance to advance. Both of these games take place in Manhattan.
5. Texas Institute of Technology (4-3, 2-2)
Previous rank: 7
The Big 12 haven’t seen many breakthroughs this season, with the Red Raiders jumping a couple of spots after a 48-10 thrashing of West Virginia. It was group work, with Beren Morton throwing 28 of 45 for 325 yards and two touchdowns, while Tahj Brooks led a rushing attack that scored 239 yards and three points. The Red Raider defense allowed less than three carry yards and made three passes. There’s a big home game this weekend against Joey McGuire’s previous team, with Baylor coming to Lubbock.
6. Baylor (4-3, 2-2)
Previous rank: 9
If you watch Baylor regularly, it becomes obvious that the Bears are just around the corner. And for most of Baylor’s victory over Kansas, the Bears looked like they’d found what they were looking for with a 28-3 lead. But Baylor allowed Kansas back into the game and Kansas cut the Bears’ lead to 28–23 before Baylor scored another score for the win. Baylor needs to avoid mistakes like three losses against the Jayhawks if the Bears are going to jump in and legally join the Big 12 title race.
7. Oklahoma (4-3, 1-3)
Previous rank: 5
Oklahoma had an open date last weekend and lost a couple of spots to victories elsewhere. This will happen in power ratings. However, when we least saw the Sooners, they bounced back hard, with Dillon Gabriel and the Oklahoma offense throwing for over 700 yards in total as the Sooners defeated Kansas. The defense is still a work in progress and it will be interesting to see if they can hold off the Iowa State team on Saturday, who struggled to move the ball offensively.
8. Kansas (5-3, 2-3)
Previous rank: 6
The Jayhawks’ open date may have come a week late as the Kansas struggle to recover from injuries that played a major role in Kansas’ three-game losing streak after starting 5-0. The Jayhawks put up an impressive struggle , coming back 28–3 against Baylor, but Kansas couldn’t get past a brutal first half and couldn’t stop the Bears when the Jayhawks needed one last stop. Interesting note: Jaylon Daniels warmed up last weekend, and with this week’s open date, it’s possible the Jayhawks will bring back their all-star quarterback when they return in two weeks.
9. West Virginia (3-4, 1-3)
Previous rank: 8
It has been a tough season for climbers who have had several close results that, for the most part, have not gone the West Virginia route. But this past weekend wasn’t one of those games, with Texas Tech confidently beating the Mountaineers by 38 points. Things aren’t getting any easier as West Virginia hosts Big 12 host TCU on Saturday. A win would give hope that the Mountaineers might still be alive in their bowl chase. A loss looks set to close that door for West Virginia in the 2022 season and could seal Neil Brown’s fate.
10. Iowa State (3-4, 0-4)
Previous rank: 10
The Cyclones are hoping they found some answers after the farewell, most notably how to get the most out of an offense that has sometimes left the Big 12’s best defense this year. Without much imagination, one would imagine Iowa State 3-1 vying for a spot at the top of the Big 12; instead, the Cyclones are at the bottom of that strength rankings and are still looking for their first conference wins. That’s how thin the line is between success and failure in the Big 12 this season.