Another week in the Big XII conference sees top teams putting on great performances to further contribute to the belief that there is definitely a top and bottom half of the Big XII. As October begins, conference play moves into full swing. We're about to see who is for real and who isn't, and it's going to be a lot of fun. Last week's rankings are in parenthesis.
1) Oklahoma State (1) - The Cowboys took their bye week after rolling through the first three weeks of the season virtually unchallenged. They have settled on a quarterback and their first string defense has held opposing offenses to 13 points in the first 3 quarters of play during their 3-0 start. OSU is still the pick to win the conference, but a couple others are surging. The Cowboys travel to Morgantown for the dreaded 11AM kickoff this week, but with the sputtering WVU offense, look for the Pokes to roll.
2) Baylor (2) – Another week, another 70 point outing from the Bears. It's the Baylor defense, however that may be making more headlines in Waco. Phil Bennett's defense has surrendered only 23 points in 3 games, which leads people to believe that what's going on is real. Offensively, Seastrunk is averaging a first down each time he touches the football. Also, if you look at Baylor opponents Buffalo (Ohio St.) and ULM (Oklahoma), the final scores against the Bears are more lopsided than against the name programs.
3) Oklahoma (3) – My apologies, as I misread the OU schedule and thought their game versus Notre Dame was last week. It's this week. The week off for OU gave them opportunity to fine tune a game plan to play the Irish, who will pose the best defensive front the Sooners will play until they host Texas Tech. Blake Bell will start, maybe the demotion I still don't think OU is complete, but they are more stable on offense than the other middle of the pack teams in the Big XII.
4) Texas Tech (4) – The Red Raiders staggered around on offense, played 2 quarterbacks, and turned the ball over a little too much for their liking versus Texas St. That said, the defense turned in another solid performance and when put in bad positions, they excelled. The concerns are still there offensively, however in the inability to run the football and lack of depth on the offensive line.
5) TCU (5) –Sorry, I couldn't put Texas ahead of TCU just yet. The Horned Frogs took a week off to lick their wounds after losing to Texas Tech last Thursday. Their offense must improve in order to win some games against the top teams in the conference. Trevone Boykin improved week to week last year after taking over for Casey Pachall and I would expect the same thing to happen again. The story is the same. They are better than advertised defensively, but the offense has to be above average for them to have a good season.
6) Texas (8) – Texas survived a late surge by Kansas State to even their record at 2-2. That said, the horns won despite losing their starting quarterback David Ash, their leader on defense Jordan Hicks, and Mike Davis, Texas' most dynamic playmaker didn't suit up. Texas will also have to play the first half of their next game on Oct 3 without LB Steve Edmond, who was ejectd for targeting. Johnathan Gray is emerging as Texas go-to running back, as he won Big XII Player of the Week honors by running for 141 yards and 2 TDs. The biggest concern for Texas is still defense, though, as they surrendered 237 yards to Tyler Lockett, who was defended by Quandre Diggs most of the night.
7) Kansas State (6) – KSU's 5 game winning streak versus Texas came to an end on Saturday night. While Jake Waters took over at quarterback and threw for 275 yards (237 to Tyler Lockett), but couldn't get the running game going. K-State is still reeling from losing the 9 defensive starters from last year, as they put the Wildcats into a 17-7 halftime hole and couldn't overcome the backup quarterback for the Longhorns.
8) Kansas (10) – Kansas should have lost to Louisiana Tech, but the Bulldog's starting running back fumbled twice inside the red zone. Jake Heaps still looks like he isn't adjusting to the speed of lesser opponents. I don't know what he'll do against the upper half of the Big XII. Kansas also has seemed to veer away from the running game, which was viewed as a strength at the beginning of the season.
9) Iowa State (9) – We'll see if the Cyclones took advantage of their bye week and improved the offense. They have back to back Thursday night games starting September 26 at Tulsa, a team OU beat 51-20. If the Cyclones don't have a good showing versus Tulsa, it's going to be a question of if, not when they win a game.
10) West Virginia (7) – The Mountaineers seem to be regressing offensively. I almost can't comprehend how a Dana Holgerson offense can be shut out, but that's what happened in their rivalry game versus Maryland. Holgerson seems to be intent on starting over and building his team with redshirt freshman Ford Childress at quarterback. Charles Sims was not a factor in the loss, and that is something that needs to change if the Mountaineers are going to have some success.
In all, with about half the teams on a bye week, there wasn't a lot of movement in the conference. Texas actually may be the most interesting team, and the Red Raiders have some improvement to make as well.
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