Midterm in Big 12: Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State head of class
Second-ranked Baylor and fourth-ranked TCU have reached the midpoint in the Big 12 Conference with perfect grades in the form of undefeated records.
While the Bears and Horned Frogs are again at the head of the class, as expected after sharing the title last season, 14th-ranked Oklahoma State also has no check marks in the loss column. And No. 17 Oklahoma quickly corrected its unexpected setback with a 55-0 win over Kansas State, the largest shutout in any Big 12 Conference game since 2008.
Their worst loss in 25 years left the Wildcats 0-3 in the Big 12, along with West Virginia and Kansas.
Here are progress reports for every Big 12 team going into the second half of the regular season, when Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU all go head-to-head in November:
TCU (7-0, 4-0 Big 12): Playing three of their first four league games on the road, the Frogs survived. Aaron Green had a diving fourth-down TD catch in the final minute at Texas Tech, and they overcame an 18-point halftime deficit at K-State. Heisman contenders Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson still have to cross the Red River twice to play the Oklahoma teams, but host Baylor the day after Thanksgiving.
BAYLOR (6-0, 3-0): Again the nation’s best offense, Baylor has scored at least 55 points in every game playing one of the softest power-five conference schedules. It builds up to a three-week November stretch when the Bears host Oklahoma, before going to Oklahoma State and TCU. Seth Russell has an FBS-best 27 touchdown passes and Corey Coleman has already set a single-season Baylor record with 16 TD catches.
OKLAHOMA STATE (6-0, 3-0): The Cowboys still have their stiffest tests ahead of them, though TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma all play in Stillwater. They were undefeated as expected against a weak non-conference schedule, but their three Big 12 wins have been by a combined 12 points.
OKLAHOMA (5-1, 2-1): Former Texas Tech quarterback transfer Baker Mayfield and new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley have been a good mix for Oklahoma, along with the emergence of some other receivers to help Sterling Shepard. Cornerbacks Zack Sanchez, the established standout, and rising star Jordan Thomas each have three interceptions. The only loss was to Texas.
TEXAS TECH (5-2, 2-2): After opening Big 12 play with losses to TCU and Baylor, Texas Tech has since matched its conference win total from a year ago and surpassed its 2014 overall win total. The Red Raiders, who play their first 11 games without a break, still face five teams that beat them last season.
IOWA STATE (2-4, 1-2): The Cyclones are exactly where most expected them to be, which is bad news for embattled coach Paul Rhoads. Unlike 2014, Iowa State has won a Big 12 game. But since winning their league opener over Kansas, the Cyclones have losses by 35 and 24 points, and now go to Baylor. Iowa State’s last winning season was 2009, Rhoads’ first in Ames.
TEXAS (2-4, 1-2): Second-year coach Charlie Strong’s team had an enjoyable visit to the State Fair of Texas with a win over Oklahoma before last week’s open date. While maybe a program-turning victory, the last Big 12 team to play in a national championship game (six seasons ago) still has a lot of work to do to avoid consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1988-89.
KANSAS STATE (3-3, 0-3): Before that lopsided loss at home, the Wildcats had blown halftime leads in back-to-back losses – after winning 49 consecutive games when ahead at the break. A three-week stretch really hard to explain for coach Bill Snyder and his team. K-State won four in a row after their 0-3 league start two years ago.
WEST VIRGINIA (3-3, 0-3): After winning all its non-conference games, West Virginia has lost three consecutive games against ranked Big 12 teams – and headed to fourth-ranked TCU after an open date this weekend. Quarterback Skyler Howard has eight turnovers in Big 12 play.
KANSAS (0-6, 0-3): A young team with a first-year coach going through the expected growing pains. After giving Texas Tech a late scare, the Jayhawks play three of their next four games on the road. The home game is against Oklahoma, who has beaten them 10 consecutive times.
AP Sports Writers Cliff Brunt, Luke Meredith and John Raby, and Associated Press Writer Betsy Blaney contributed to this report.
AP college football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org