Big 12 Power Rankings: Pre-bowls

BY foxsports • December 8, 2014

Baylor and TCU shared the Big 12 title, but here's how I'd sort out the conference heading into the bowl games. 

1. Baylor 11-1, 8-1 Big 12. Last week: 2. Bowl: Cotton vs. Michigan State. Outside of the weekly Power Rankings, I haven't really picked a side in the whole TCU/Baylor debate. At the risk of sounding wishy-washy, here's how I see it: From what I see on the field, TCU is a better team and when you factor in margin of victory and Minnesota, TCU's resume is slightly superior. However, it is not superior enough to override Baylor's 61-58 win on the field, even if it was anything but decisive. Too many people forget the controversial pass interference calls that played a major part in the end of the Baylor comeback. There's a case to be made for either team, but after Baylor's win over K-State, the resumes are too similar to look past the on-field result between the two teams. The Bears take the top spot by a nose after the regular season. 

2. TCU 11-1, 8-1. Last week: 1. Bowl: Peach vs. Ole Miss. If there's any consolation for TCU, it's that the league's coaches disagree with me. Five Big 12 coaches--Bob Stoops, Charlie Strong, Mike Gundy, Gary Patterson and Art Briles--voted in the coaches' poll this year. Every coach but Briles had TCU two spots ahead of Baylor. Gundy even gave TCU a first-place vote. 

3. Kansas State 9-3, 7-2. Last week: 3. Bowl: Alamo vs. UCLA. How good is this team, really? The Wildcats are ranked No. 11 but don't have a win over a top 25 team this year and were barely competitive against TCU and Baylor. I suspect we'll learn a bit more about this team in the Alamo Bowl against UCLA. 

4. West Virginia 7-5, 5-4. Last week: 5. Bowl: Liberty vs. Texas A&M. For all the Big 12's talk about top-heavy leagues the last few seasons, it certainly seems like the Big 12 resembles that remark this season. The dropoff after the top three (in resume, not necessarily on the field) is pretty stark after the top three. West Virginia was impressive in its season opener against Alabama, but was just 1-3 against the rest of the top half of the final Big 12 Power Rankings. 

5. Oklahoma 8-4, 5-4. Last week: 4. Bowl: Russell Athletic vs. Clemson. Bob Stoops went 75-2 in Norman from the time he took over at Oklahoma in 1999 up until a loss to Texas Tech in 2011. This season, Oklahoma was 1-3 in Big 12 games at home, with the only win coming over Kansas. I'd still say the 44-10 Bedlam loss in 2011 was worse, but this put the nail in the coffin of another disappointing season OU fans are hoping to bury as soon as possible. 

6. Texas 6-6, 5-4. Last week: 6. Bowl: Texas vs. Arkansas. The Longhorns got a fun matchup from the Texas Bowl folks, though one-sided rivalry games can be dangerous. As someone who grew up in Northwest Arkansas, the obsession over the Longhorns has not subsided since the breakup of the Southwest Conference. On the other side of the coin, Arkansas wouldn't make the top five if Texas and its fanbase ranked the teams it most wanted to beat. Extra practices and a bowl win would be huge for Charlie Strong this year. 

7. Oklahoma State 6-6, 4-5. Last week: 7. Bowl: Cactus vs. Washington. Even if the stakes were low, four of the last five Bedlam games have been absolute classics. The one that wasn't still featured a field-storming after OSU clinched its lone Big 12 title. No finish may have been more epic than Tyreek Hill's 92-yard punt return in the final minute to send the game into overtime. It helped Oklahoma State clinch a bowl berth in Norman, where Mike Gundy had never won, and somewhat redeemed a once-lost season. Legendary. 

8. Texas Tech 4-8, 2-7. Last week: 8. Defensive line coach John Scott Jr. quietly resigned last week. It'll be interesting to see if Tech removes the interim tag on defensive coordinator Mike Smith this year. It seems unlikely, but even with spotty results, some continuity on the staff might help. 

9. Kansas 3-9, 1-8. Last week: 9. The Jayhawks found their man in David Beaty. His name wasn't on the national radar, but he's very well known in Lawrence after serving on Mark Mangino and Turner Gill's staffs. It's clear Kansas wanted a guy who loved KU. Clint Bowen will stay on staff as defensive coordinator, which players will love to see. Beaty's got a lot to prove. 

10. Iowa State 2-10, 0-9. Last week: 10. The Cyclones have been stung by injuries, but haven't had the same defensive toughness that helped them make three bowl games in Paul Rhoads' first four seasons. Fans want to see a change at defensive coordinator, but Rhoads hasn't publicly sounded like a man pondering a change on his coaching staff. 

 


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