Saturday offered plenty of clarity in the Big 12 race. A three-way tie is only possible with complete chaos atop the standings, but expect a month of closely comparing TCU and Baylor as long as both teams keep winning.
Here’s how the Big 12 Power Rankings look heading into Week 12:
1. TCU 8-1, 5-1 Big 12. Last week: 1. This week: at Kansas. TCU retains the top spot by routing a one-loss Kansas State team by three touchdowns. The Horned Frogs jumped to a 14-0 first-quarter lead and never allowed K-State within single digits the rest of the way. Gary Patterson said after the game to beat K-State, you have to beat the Wildcats at their own game. That’s exactly what TCU did. It won the turnover battle, 1-0. It had just 35 penalty yards to Kansas State’s 68 and held the ball for 35 minutes, compared to just 25 for Kansas State.
2. Baylor 8-1, 5-1, Last week: 3. This week: Idle. The Bears’ 34-point destruction of Oklahoma at Owen Field is the single most impressive win of any Big 12 team this season. TCU’s win over K-State later on Saturday night is a close second, but Baylor shredded the Sooners in the final three quarters after falling behind 14-3. The Bears won’t play a road game the rest of the season with OSU in two weeks, Tech at AT&T Stadium two days after Thanksgiving and a home finale against K-State that could have major playoff implications. If Baylor beats Oklahoma State and Texas Tech convincingly and ends the year with a win over Kansas State, it’ll have an outstanding shot to leapfrog TCU in these rankings and, of less importance, the College Football Playoff rankings.
3. Kansas State 7-2, 5-1, Last week: 2. This week: Idle. TCU trounced the Wildcats, but K-State can still win its way to a share of the Big 12 title by beating West Virginia. All the talk in the next month will center around TCU and Baylor, but the Wildcats can break up the party with an off-the-grid run over the next month. K-State is good enough to do it.
4. Texas 5-5, 4-3. Last week: 6. This week: at Oklahoma State. While West Virginia and Oklahoma have floundered, Texas has quietly improved in Year 1 under Charlie Strong. I’m as shocked as you are to see this team in the top four, but it’s where it deserves to be. The Longhorns have won three of their last four games and earned their first win over a ranked team at home since 2008 by beating the Mountaineers. Texas did so soundly, dominating the line of scrimmage and frustrating the West Virginia offense, holding WVU to a full yard below its yards per play average this season.
5. West Virginia 6-4, 4-3. Last week: 4. This week: Idle. Before yesterday, WVU had been red-hot since losing to Oklahoma. The ‘Eers crushing loss to TCU on a last-second field goal last week ended their four-game win streak that included a two-touchdown win over Baylor. Saturday’s trip to Austin was the worst performance we’ve seen from the Mountaineers all season. With K-State and a trip to Ames on the schedule WVU has to improve or a once-promising season might end at 7-6 if the Mountaineers lose their bowl game.
6. Oklahoma 6-3, 3-3. Last week: 5. This week: at Texas Tech. Oklahoma’s loss to Baylor is drawing comparisons to the John Blake era, which is unthinkable for a team that began the year in the top 5. The Sooners’ streak of 76 consecutive appearances in the AP poll dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season is over. The Sooners have now lost three of five games, with the only wins coming over Texas and Iowa State. Overlooked in Saturday’s disaster: There’s a chance OU may have to start quarterback Cody Thomas at Texas Tech this week. All the tests on Trevor Knight were negative, but his status for Saturday is up in the air.
7. Oklahoma State 5-4, 3-3. Last week: 7. This week: vs. Texas. Texas looks much more imposing than it did a few weeks ago, and if the Pokes don’t get it done, they’ll have to either win in Norman or Waco to qualify for a bowl game. It’s not an understatement to say this is the biggest game of OSU’s season. Will its offense show signs of life? There was a brief one on OSU’s opening drive against Kansas State, but it quickly dissipated.
8. Texas Tech 3-6, 1-5. Last week: 8. This week: vs. Oklahoma. During the bye week, Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt admitted he was disappointed in Kliff Kingsbury’s performance but remained "optimistic" about the program’s future with the second-year coach. With OU this week before games against Iowa State and Baylor, Tech is on track to go 4-8, but if the Red Raiders stay competitive or win games against the Sooners or Bears, the offseason will be a lot more palatable for both Kingsbury and his team.
9. Kansas 3-6, 1-5. Last week: 10. This week: vs. TCU. Saturday, Clint Bowen sounded like a man having the best day of his career. The Jayhawks offense is rolling with Corey Avery and Michael Cummings. Avery went for 103 yards and a score and Cummings has at least 235 passing yards in all four starts this season with a completion percentage hovering around 60 percent.
10. Iowa State 2-7, 0-6. Last week: 9. This week: Idle. Saturday’s 20-point loss to Kansas marks the low point of the Paul Rhoads era in Ames. The Cyclones have dealt with tons of injuries on offense this year, but the defense’s inability to stop the run is the reason why Iowa State is the only team still looking for its first Big 12 win.