Big 12 Power Rankings: Pre-bowls
Here’s how I rank the Big 12 heading into the bowl games.
1. Baylor 11-1, 8-1, last week: 2 Next: Fiesta Bowl vs. Central Florida. The Bears are the champions, my friends. Yet again, Robert Griffin III’s famous phrase fits: Unbelievably believable. It’s hard to believe that Baylor is here now, but when you look at the roster and watch this team play, it’s clear they’re the best team in the Big 12.
2. Oklahoma 10-2, 7-2, last week: 4. Next: Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama. The Sooners get a big bump by going on the road against a top 10 team and earning a win. Blake Bell goes from third-stringer who reportedly got “five reps” with the first team in practice last week to Bedlam hero for a second consecutive season.
3. Oklahoma State 10-2, 7-2, last week: 1. Next: AT&T Cotton Bowl vs. Missouri. That’s the gut-punchiest loss you’ll ever see. OSU rallied to take the lead on a great drive from Clint Chelf against an OU offense that hadn’t scored a TD all game. And then: Heartbreak. That’s 10 losses in 11 games against the Sooners.
4. Texas 8-4, 7-2, last week: 3. Next: Alamo Bowl vs. Oregon. The Longhorns have QB issues, and they were on display against Baylor. Case McCoy’s not consistent, and when you’re a one-dimensional offense, you get eaten up. Baylor showed that in the second half. Malcolm Brown had 15 carries for 110 yards in the first half, but had just 21 yards on 10 carries in the second half.
5. Kansas State 7-5, 5-4, last week: 5. Next: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl vs. Michigan. K-State. has continually mastered the two-quarterback system over the last month or so of the season, rallying from a 2-4 start to win five of their final six games. Quietly, though, the defense has been one of the Big 12’s best. Ryan Mueller is my pick as the Big 12’s best defender this season.
6. Texas Tech 7-5, 4-5, last week: 6. Next: Holiday Bowl vs. Arizona State. A win in the bowl game would be very helpful for Tech. Nobody likes ending a season on a six-game losing streak. How many teams in the country will have a three-man quarterback competition in bowl practice? This should be a fascinating month in Lubbock.
7. TCU 4-8, 2-7, last week: 7. TCU’s not used to this whole “home for the holidays” thing. The Horned Frogs are apparently much further from being a Big 12 contender than anyone realized. Recruiting quality depth is objective No. 1. I really like Gary Patterson’s OC hire (called that one last week) of Houston’s Doug Meacham, who cut his teeth at Oklahoma State before calling plays for the Cougars.
8. Iowa State 3-9, 2-7, last week: 8. Iowa State’s search for an OC should be very interesting. How he develops QBs Grant Rohach and Sam Richardson moving forward will determine the direction of the program. ISU can’t build a program with a deficiency at QB.
9. West Virginia 4-8, 2-7, last week: 9. Dana Holgorsen got a vote of confidence from AD Oliver Luck, but his record has declined in the last two seasons after a Big East title in Year 1. He probably needs 7-8 wins next year to keep his job, and winning the right games at the right time will be a big factor, too.
10. Kansas 3-9, 1-8, last week: 10. I tweeted this earlier in the week, but knowing that KU hired Charlie Weis instead of newly crowned SEC champion Gus Malzahn, who turned around the Tigers in one year, has to be hard to swallow. The situations are very different, but it’s hard to argue that the hire wasn’t a swing and a miss as it relates to Weis vs. Malzahn.