Big 12 Football: Week 11 Power Rankings
With Week 12 of the Big 12 Football calendar in the books, it’s time for another round of conference power rankings.
Hello, upsets! The Big 12 served up another insane weekend of football, complete with huge road wins, deflating road losses, and the coaching carousel entirely up for grams for some schools headed into 2017.
Like many sportswriters, I speculated on whether job security would be an issue for some teams down the final stretch. That’s proven to be the case with several coaches around the league, however, others will slide into next season with continued uneasiness. Some coaches and players thrived, while others suffered complete meltdowns. That’s the business of football, and unfortunately, not everyone is going to end the season in the win column.
With Bedlam being the default Big 12 title game this season next week, and just a few teams bowl eligible, this wasn’t the Big 12’s strongest season yet, despite flashes of promise. Underwhelming performances, and the inability to capitalize on opportunities was the Achilles’ heel of several programs, who will unfortunately, be watching the postseason from their sofas this year.
The following power rankings are based on observations for weeks 1-11, while forecasting playoff implications; there are no additional factors, so expect these rankings to change a lot this season based off how powerfully these teams are performing.
For those keeping track, here are my Big 12 Power Rankings for Week 11.
10. Texas Longhorns (Record: 5-6)
This is officially rock bottom for the Texas Longhorns.
Texas Longhorns’ head coach Charlie Strong’s seat was scalding hot headed into Lawrence on Saturday night to face Kansas. By all means, this was a must-win for the Longhorns to become bowl eligible, save Strong from the inevitable firing squad, and prevent a complete meltdown. Either it was poor game planning, poor execution, or a plethora of other varying factors, Texas failed to deliver.
The overtime pick and field goal by the Jayhawks overshadowed an incredible night by running back D’Onta Foreman, who recorded his 12th straight game with over 100 yards rushing, passing Longhorns’ great Earl Campbell’s streak. Texas had many opportunities to come back and seal the win, but Shane Buechele was intercepted three times, in addition to fumbles by Foreman, and one by Tyrone Swoopes.
To add insult to Texas’s 21-24 loss, the last time Kansas beat Texas, it was 1938 and Bill Snyder hadn’t even been born yet.
Strong’s buyout is $10 million, and Texas certainly has the cash to make the move. Per reports, if he’s fired, he could be allowed to finish the season against TCU, but regardless of how that game goes, he will finish among the worst head coaching percentages in Texas history along with Jack Chevigny, and David McWilliams. Many are hoping for another year, including his players, but with the administrators at Texas, you never know what to expect.
|Fri, Nov 25||Texas||vs.||TCU||Austin, Texas||2:30 p.m.||FS1|
9. Texas Tech Red Raiders (Record: 4-7)
I tried warning people that Iowa State wasn’t a team to take lightly, however, most of my sentiments were met with a dull response. Had some favorable calls or plays gone in the Cyclones’ favor this season, they would be looking at a much different record. This was the similar case made for Texas Tech, but for some reason, the Red Raiders suffered a complete collapse on Saturday in Ames.
Whether the coaches or players simply didn’t respect Iowa State the way they should have, or people took naps in film study, Texas Tech arguably played its worst football game in program history.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has dominated Big 12 records and statistics this season, but was only able to connect on 18 of 36 passes, for 219 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Texas Tech has tried opening the run game, but against a tenacious Iowa State defense, was only able to amass 84 yards on the ground through 30 carries.
When asked about the loss in the post game press conference, Kingsbury said, “All I can do is apologize. It’s very disappointing.” Kingsbury went on to say, “The program is disappointed. The players, the coaches. It’s not acceptable to play like that, and represent the university that way.”
Texas Tech had to win out to become bowl eligible, but with that out of the picture, job security is definitely the issue. While problems with injuries continued to plague the Red Raiders this season, there’s a lot of fan apathy to the situation. Unfortunately, there’s been a very vocal contingent to counter that demanding Kingsbury to be fired. It looks to be a weekly decision, but this could go either way depending on the outcome of Baylor. With a lot on the line for the Red Raiders, if the players care one iota about saving its staff from further embarrassment, it has to play like this is its bowl game.
|Fri, Nov 25||Texas Tech||vs.||Baylor||Arlington, Texas||ESPN|
8. Baylor Bears (Record: 6-4)
Baylor has really dropped the ball on the season, and was handed its fourth straight loss against Kansas State on Saturday. Kansas State wasn’t that effective in the air, but the Wildcats still managed to defeat Baylor soundly, 42-21. That score differential is alarming, but all things considered with Baylor this season, it wasn’t exactly surprising, especially with the loss if Seth Russell.
What is surprising, however, is the win/loss points differential. In its four losses this season, Baylor’s defense has allowed a total of 187 points, while scoring just 101 points. If you’re a Baylor fan, it’s certainly not what you’re used to, however, it also comes with the territory of the fallout from the ongoing scandal. Could Baylor recover? That’s entirely contingent on the NCAA, but with personnel up in the air for 2017, losses could become the norm once again.
One positive for the Bears was the play of freshman quarterback Zach Smith, who was 27/45 and 258 yards for three touchdowns against Kansas State. One issue Smith must work on is in turnovers, as he threw three interceptions. Against a Texas Tech defense that’s not exactly a threat in the secondary, Baylor could be ok, but with inconsistency so high for Texas Tech, Baylor won;t know what defense it has to face.
|Fri, Nov 25||Texas Tech||vs.||Baylor||Arlington, Texas||5:00 p.m.||ESPN|
7. Kansas Jayhawks (Record: 2-9)
Kansas moved up several spots this week because it’s a weekly rankings system, and frankly, the Jayhawks deserve some credit for finally causing some conference disruption.
Nobody wants to see a head coach get fired, but Texas’ loss at Kansas could be the nail in the coffin for Charlie Strong, but that drama shouldn’t be the narrative for Kansas headed into Kansas State to finish the season.
Despite being shut out of scoring for two quarters, Kansas managed to keep it tight. Quarterback Carter Stanley was 21/42 for 220 yards, with one rushing touchdown by Khalil Herbert, and another defensive touchdown by Brandon Stewart. Additionally, kicker Matthew Wyman was perfect, nailing 3/3 field goals on the night.
As I mentioned previously, the last time Kansas beat Texas was in 1938, but this win also ended Kansas’ longest active FBS streaks of overall losses (9), conference losses (19), losses against FBS teams (23), home losses (4), and home losses in-conference (9).
Head coach David Beaty is scheduled to earn a $25k bonus for every Big 12 win he produces this season, so this win certainly didn’t hurt his bank account.
|Sat, Nov 26||Kansas State||vs.||Kansas||Manhattan, Kan.||11:00 a.m.||FS1|
6. Iowa State Cyclones (Record: 3-8)
Last week I wrote, “Is it possible for Iowa State to beat Texas Tech? Absolutely. They’re a threatening team, that always plays Big 12 teams with a certain level of intensity you wouldn’t expect from a team that just can’t seem to get over the hump.” That’s a verbatim quote from my Week 11 Power Rankings, but nobody seemed to listen. Newsflash to Big 12 people, Iowa State is a good team, and first year head coach Matt Campbell has a lot to be excited about moving forward.
The Cyclones completely routed the Red Raiders 66-10 in Ames, shutting Texas Tech’s bowl hopes, and perhaps, could be the determining factor should Kliff Kingsbury be fired at the end of the season. In response to the win, Matt Campbell said, “Nothing surprises me with our team. I think we’ve got a chance to do great things here.”
Iowa State has been utilizing a dual quarterback system this season in Joel Lanning and Jacob Park, which has also been effective the the Longhorns in Shane Buechele and Tyrone Swoopes. With that scheme, it makes it pretty easy to catch defenses off guard, even knowing how predictable the plays could be. Lanning had a record five rushing touchdowns on the day, with Park throwing for 285 yards and two touchdowns. Lanning is a junior, and Park is a sophomore, so expect that to continue to be Iowa State’s approach next season, too.
With West Virginia headed to Ames on Saturday, let’s hope Dana Holgorsen isn’t taking the Cyclones lightly, because they’ve proven themselves at this point.
|Sat, Nov 26||Iowa State||vs.||West Virginia||Ames, Iowa||FS1|
5. TCU Horned Frogs (Record: 5-5)
TCU played a tough Oklahoma State team, and easily could have caved and let the Cowboys score at will, however, pride kept TCU from letting things get completely out of hand. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough pride to keep Oklahoma State from racking up 541 yards of total offense.
“I’m not even mad. I’m embarrassed because we got our butt kicked.” Said TCU head coach Gary Patterson. “It’s as simple as that. I’m not just talking about the players. It’s our job as coaches to find the answers. I’m embarrassed for them and for me.”
At 5-5, TCU has had an interesting season, without many highlights. After destroying Baylor last week, expectations were high against Oklahoma State, but we talk about win/loss hangovers all the time in college football, and perhaps this was one of those situations for TCU.
Quarterback Kenny Hill 18/27 for 166 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Those numbers shouldn’t be upsetting for fans, however, based on the post-game message boards, the two takeaways are that Hill doesn’t have the type of command necessary to propel the offense, and that TCU is a better team than the records show, but this wasn’t the year. TCU needs to beat Texas to become bowl eligible, but after how Texas has handled the Charlie Strong situation and one win away from bowl eligibility, too, the Longhorns are not going to make it easy on TCU.
|Fri, Nov 25||Texas||vs.||TCU||Austin, Texas||2:30 p.m.||FS1
4. Kansas State Wildcats (Record: 6-4)
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder is a national treasure, especially on the football front, so it doesn’t surprise me (or anyone) how much his team grapples for wins to preserve his legacy. With that said, its 42-21 victory over Baylor in Waco on Saturday not only made the Wildcats bowl eligible for the seventh consecutive season, it was its first win in Waco since 2002.
More than recording its sixth win on the season, it was an game that perhaps solidified freshman quarterback Alex Barnes as Jesse Ertz successor at quarterback. While Ertz’s production has been on the downslope, Barnes put up insane rushing numbers, accounting for 120 rushing yards in the second-half.
Ertz was 16/25 for 177 passing on Saturday, but a 40 yard run on a fourth down gamble was what Kansas State needed to rev its offense up. Kansas State scored on that drive, and Barnes finished with four rushing touchdowns. While the chemistry was definitely clicking in the second half, turnovers were the first major issue, as both Barnes and Ertz committed one apiece, which turned into Baylor scores both times.
Penalties were also an issue for the Wildcats, who committed eight for 85 yards. Kansas State got a little more disciplined in the second-half, but it just goes to show how important those penalties can be in halting production.
Kansas should be an easy enough victory for the Wildcats on Saturday, but coming off a victory against Texas, expect David Beaty’s team to play hard.
|Sat, Nov 26||Kansas State||vs.||Kansas||Manhattan, Kan.||11:00 a.m.||
3. West Virginia Mountaineers (Record: 8-2)
West Virginia had to beat Oklahoma to have its Big 12 tile hopes stay alive, but dropped the ball 56-28 in front of a home crowd of 57, 645 in Morgantown.
Quarterback Skyler Howard didn’t have bad numbers, as he completed 12 of 27 passes for 191 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, however, turnovers were a huge issue for the Mountaineers in a snowy, cold game. Of West Virginia’s four turnovers, two were turned into touchdowns by Oklahoma. For a team hoping to be in the hunt for a title, that’s just unacceptable.
Not only did West Virginia give up costly turnovers, it also allowed Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield to have his way, as he averaged 11.3 yards-per-play in the air. Despite losing time of possession, West Virginia was more effective on the run, averaging 10.2 yards-per-rush. That’s going to be an asset in controlling the game against a very good Iowa State team that just dismantled Texas Tech.
I just hope for the sake of the Mountaineers, they take the Iowa State film against Texas Tech seriously, and bring their A-game. Otherwise, another upset could be in the works in Ames.
|Sat, Nov 26||Iowa State||vs.||West Virginia||Ames, Iowa||2:30 p.m.||FS1|
2. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Record: 9-2)
Much like Oklahoma having to travel through Morgantown for a Big 12 title shot, Oklahoma State had to defeat TCU to earn a place at the table, too. This says a lot about the type of programs being built around the Big 12, but conference representatives have been vocal that the Cowboys’ unfortunate loss against Central Michigan wouldn’t affect its standing, and teams have been treating the Cowboys like a one-loss team.
That being said, it’s clear who had the advantage against TCU on Saturday, but the Horned Frogs’ defense still didn’t allow a complete blowout, despite the 31-6 score.
Quarterback Mason Rudolph has done an excellent job this season, throwing for 3,591 yards, 25 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. With two rushing touchdowns against TCU, that should be an area Oklahoma studies this week in preparation, but the Cowboys have a lot of scoring depth in Chris Carson, James Washington, Chris Lacy, among others, making the offense even harder to contain.
Grab your popcorn, y’all, Bedlam should be a wild one.
|Sat, Dec 03||Oklahoma State||vs.||Oklahoma||Norman, Okla.||11:30 a.m.||FOX|
1. Oklahoma Sooners (Record: 9-2)
Oklahoma officially controls its own destiny from here on out. With a huge 56-28 win over the Mountaineers in Morgantown last weekend, the only thing stopping the Sooners from being crowned Big 12 champs is Bedlam.
The Sooners’ game plan against West Virginia was incredibly effective; focus on turnovers, and control the game by committing to run the ball. This was probably in response to the weather, as wet, conditions make it harder to pass and make grabs, but Oklahoma still moved the ball efficiently in the air, as Mayfield managed 11.3 yards-per-pass. Oklahoma milked the clock brilliantly, as it had 64 rushes for 316 yards. When a team’s objective is to keep an offense off the field, it’s pretty obvious, which had to frustrate Dana Holgorsen, who used that approach against Texas Tech earlier this season.
Oklahoma’s only two losses this season came against two very good, ranked Ohio State and Houston teams. If the Sooners not only win at Bedlam, but do it in a very convincing manner, those losses might not matter to the College Football Playoff Committee while factoring in 1-2 loss teams, and the strength of their schedules. Something that should make Sooners’ fans happy, is FiveThirtyEight.com gives them a 40 percent chance at making the Playoff, but the chips have to fall correctly throughout the college football landscape for that to be realistic.
|Sat, Dec 03||Oklahoma||vs.||Oklahoma State||Norman, Okla.||11:30 a.m.||FOX|