Oklahoma and Texas both won impressively last week and now settle comfortably into the Big 12's top two power ranking positions. How timely. The Sooners and Horns will renew the Red River Shootout this week and this edition could very easily determine the conference's champion. Elsewhere, Texas A&M's swan dive continued and Kansas State burst Baylor's bubble in Manhattan.
1. Oklahoma: Ball State quarterback Keith Winner had thrown 176 straight passes without an interception. Then he lobbed picks to OU's Tony Jefferson on three straight possessions. The Sooner defense has the ability to thoroughly rattle well-seasoned and competent quarterbacks. Texas' young duo of David Ash and Case McCoy had best beware.
2. Texas: Now that Baylor has been knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten, the Longhorns are definitely the surprise team of the Big 12. And just as the Sooners blew out Ball State with turnovers, so Texas subdued Iowa State with a spate of turnovers and a blocked punt in Ames. Heck, the Cyclones didn't even score until twelve minutes remained in the game. UT is for real and is capable of testing Oklahoma.
3. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys had last week off and have a second consecutive bye week as they face Kansas on Saturday. The unusual two-week hiatus should serve OSU well as they prepare for a crucial trip to Austin on October 15.
4. Missouri: The Tigers were also inactive last week, and now get the chance to do to Kansas State what the Wildcats did to Baylor. They can, in other words, spoil KSU's early dream season and bring them back down to earth. And I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they do.
5. Texas A&M: My how the mighty hath fallen. The Aggies, just recently a dark horse national championship contender and a legitimate threat to take the Big 12 title, have now dropped two straight games. Oklahoma State and Arkansas, two good teams, have already sabotaged A&M's season. What will the Aggies' morale be like when they travel to the snake-pit in Lubbock? All the talent in the world is meaningless if a team has already packed it in.
6. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders continue to win ugly over weak competition. They fell behind by 20 points to conference doormat Kansas before coming to and reeling in a victory. Well the creampuff buffet is over. Tech will either step up its play dramatically against the Aggies or their unbeaten streak will stop at four games.
7. Kansas State: The Wildcats are about as interesting as an insurance seminar in Canada, and as flashy as a 1981 Ford LTD, but they're also undefeated and ranked No.20 following their upset victory over media darling Baylor. Did KSU leave it all on the field against the Bears, or do they still have something in the tank for a well-rested and improving Missouri squad? A Wildcat victory in this one would be most impressive indeed.
8. Baylor: Personally, I never bought into all the Baylor hype, and Bill Snyder and the boys seemingly proved me right. The loss to Kansas State was huge. Not only have the Bears' conference title hopes probably been derailed, so has Robert Griffin's Heisman campaign. The game in Manhattan was the perfect opportunity for Griffin to prove that he is special psychologically as well as physically, but he failed. And quarterbacks from Baylor do not win Heismans when they lose to Kansas State.
9. Iowa State: Lots of dreams have been shattered lately. Texas A&M and Baylor belched up their pretender status for all to see, and so did Iowa State. The Cyclones fully expected to handle the Longhorns in Ames, but failed miserably. Now Iowa State and Baylor meet in the Choke Bowl. The winner will set his sights on a minor bowl, while the loser can probably make plans to stay home and eat fruitcake.
10. Kansas: The Jayhawks put up more of a fight against Texas Tech than most expected, but then reality set in and KU lost going away. Matters go from bad to worse for the Jayhawks as they draw the Oklahoma State Cowboys and their high-powered passing attack. I wouldn't expect Kansas to grab a 20-0 lead in this one.