Big 12 Power Rankings: Week Eight editor Wann Smith moves the Sooners up in his latest rankings.

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 8 by Wann Smith After seven weeks of action there are new perspectives emerging within the Big 12. Sooner fans, in spite of their team's close call with Baylor, should be imbued with new optimism; the state of Texas is uncharacteristically not fielding a single team that would embarrass the Big 12 South; Missouri can celebrate their second-straight home victory over the Huskers; Nebraska fans are wringing their hands in despair; Colorado remains a good team, although unpredictable; both Kansas teams are doing swan-dives towards the conference cellar; Iowa State is confirming the early-season suspicions of its mediocrity and Oklahoma State's best on-field strategy is curling up in a fetal position.

The Rankings

1. Texas (7-0, 4-0)
For those of us silly enough to think that Texas Tech could stand toe-to-toe with Mack's new toy, Saturday afternoon was a heartbreaker. These Horns look like they're on a collision course with Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl, BCS permitting.
Next up: October 29th – Oklahoma State at Stillwater.

2. Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1) Texas Tech reaffirmed old opinions of Mike Leach's inability to coach any sort of cohesive defense against any competent offense. But even after its 35 point wipeout against Texas, the Red Raiders remain the other team to beat in the conference.
Next up: October 29th – Baylor at Waco.

3. Colorado (5-2, 3-1) The Beefaloes are still looking formidable, with their only losses being to Miami in Miami and Texas in Austin. The number three spot in the power rankings is theirs to lose, which they might do this coming weekend.
Next up: October 29th – Kansas State at Manhattan.

4. Oklahoma (4-3, 3-1) The Sooners played their best game of the year against Baylor last weekend. The offensive line displayed a new-found ability to pass block, OU's running game reappeared and Rhett Bomar seemed to be more comfortable in his role. Fumbles, while still present, have declined in frequency and Bomar's interceptions were not of the egregious kind. So if the occasional defensive breakdown can be averted the Sooners' continued improvement could be assured.
Next up: October 29th – Nebraska at Lincoln.

5. Missouri (5-2, 3-1) Much to the relief of the 68,349 black-clad partisans in Memorial Stadium, the Tiger's offensive coordinator finally came to work after apparently having called in sick for the first six games. Brad Smith played like the Heisman contender he was purported to be and most surprising of all, Missouri's defense shackled Nebraska.
Next up: October 29th – Kansas at Lawrence.

6. Nebraska (5-2, 2-2) Gosh, I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. The vaunted Nebraska Blackshirt defense was decimated by Missouri for 523 yards, 480 of which came from Brad Smith (do I detect the subtle hand of John Blake in this mix?). But most surprisingly, the Missouri defense held the Cornhuskers to only one substantial touchdown drive which came in the first quarter. The other two NU tds were short-field affairs resulting from Missouri turnovers.
Next up: October 29th – Oklahoma in Lincoln.

7. Texas A&M (5-2, 3-1) The good news for these Aggies is that they're currently 5-2 and 3-1 in the conference, which technically gives them a shot at the Big 12 South title. The bad news is that Franchione is still working his magic from the sidelines. TAMU held Kansas State to a mere 27 yards rushing, but gave up 357 yards through the air (this would be comparable in basketball to forcing your opponent to "go inside"). The porous Aggie pass defense allowed two cross-country touchdown passes – one for 52 yards and one for 42 yards – en route to a hair-raising 30-28 finish.
Next up: October 29th – Iowa State in College Station.

8. Baylor (4-3, 2-2) Baylor looked positively respectable in their overtime loss to Oklahoma in Norman. Whether that can be attributed to the Sooners' recent declination or to the Bears' recent ascension – or both – is the question. Guy Morriss' team has come a long way and considering their youthful offense, could be heading towards permanent respectability.
Next up: October 29th – Texas Tech in Waco.

9. Kansas State (4-3, 1-3) As Snyder runs headlong into his second consecutive disappointing season, his ‘Cats remain a dangerous albeit flawed team. One play in the first three quarters (a 52-yard touchdown pass and a two-point conversion) was all the scoring KSU could muster before catching fire in quarter number four. This Wildcat team should be bowl bound, but just barely.
Next up: October 29th – Colorado in Manhattan.

10. Iowa State (4-3, 1-3) The good news for the Cyclones is that three of their four touchdowns against the woeful Cowboys last weekend were on the ground. The bad news is that they were playing the Oklahoma State defense. Iowa State has been and remains a "rushing challenged" team in '05, which will not set them in good stead against their next opponent, TAMU, which specializes in choking the run.
Next up: October 29th – Texas A&M at College Station.

11. Kansas (3-4, 0-4) The Jayhawks, a team that played well but lost last year and seems to be following the same script this year, are not making the sort of progress Mangino had hoped to be making after three years at the helm. Last weekend was a low point for the Jays this season. And with games remaining against Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Iowa State remaining, a bowl game seems unrealistic as does a fourth year for Mangino.
Next up: October 29th – Missouri in Lawrence.

12. Oklahoma State (3-4, 0-4) Looks like it's time for OSU fans to start bragging about basketball season.
Next up: October 29th – Texas in Stillwater.


Wann Smith has served two years as national columnist for the Pigskin Post, contributed to the College Football News (a contributor to Fox Sports and the Sporting News) and is currently the editor of the College Football Gazette. Smith lives in St. Louis with his family.

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