Kansas leads the Big 12, Baylor inconsistent early

Big12_Conference_2.FullColor_Simplified FTWBy Jeffrey Swindoll
Sports Writer

Kansas (13-1-0, 3-0-0)

The Jayhawks boast the best win percentage in the nation (.929) and are undefeated in Big 12 play this season. KU has a thrilling offensive player in Liana Salazar who is a viable candidate for league MVP. Salazar dispatched the Baylor Bears to their first goal and loss at home this season two weeks ago. They are one of five Big 12 teams currently ranked in the top 25 of the latest NCAA RPI. The Jayhawks face the Longhorns Friday night in Austin.

West Virginia (8-2-2, 1-0-1)

Starting its Big 12 campaign on the road, after nine straight home games in the pre-conference season, West Virginia proved their grit by earning invaluable road points in 0-0 draw with TCU and a 2-0 decision over Texas. The Mountaineers have recorded a shutout in three straight matches (six times overall in 2014) and are unbeaten in nine straight games. West Virginia hosts Texas Tech on Friday.

Texas (7-4-2, 2-1-0)

The Longhorns currently tied for second place in the conference standings, and are a battle-tested squad with an impressive string of pre-conference results to their resume. The Longhorns are one of three teams in the Big 12 ranked on the top-20 list for toughest schedules in the NCAA. UT took care of business last week with a 1-0 victory over Iowa State in Ames, Iowa. The Longhorns host KU on Friday.

Baylor (7-4-2, 1-1-1)

The Bears’ staunch defense has earned credibility against some of the league’s best attacking forces in their first three Big 12 matches. Baylor has posted seven shutouts in 2014, and senior goalkeeper Michelle Kloss is three away from tying the school record for that mark. Junior midfielder Bri Campos, who currently has the team lead in goals, is the offensive engine of the Bears. The Bears came close to getting a win over a scrappy TCU side last week and improving to a 2-1 record. The Bears travel to Oklahoma to face the Sooners on Friday and Oklahoma State on Sunday.

Oklahoma (8-3-2, 2-0-0)

Tied for second best in the league, Oklahoma opened its Big 12 season with its first 2-0 start since 2005. The Sooners are also 3-1 this season against nationally ranked teams. Oklahoma debunked the Red Raiders in the Big 12 opener, who were undefeated before their match against OU. The Sooners are currently riding a two-game win streak. Oklahoma opens their two-game Big 12 weekend at home against the Bears on Friday and TCU on Sunday.

Oklahoma State (6-7-1, 1-1-1)

Oklahoma State’s schedule ranks as sixth toughest in the nation according the NCAA’s top 20. The Cowboys have so far done not too shabby in Big 12 play. Their non-conference schedule was challenging, and their overall record took a blow from dropping results to more difficult teams. OSU has yet to win a game on the road, and is coming off a 2-1 loss to Kansas and a 1-1 draw with Texas Tech. Oklahoma State hosts TCU on Friday and Baylor on Sunday in Stillwater.

TCU (7-4-2, 0-1-2)

Though winless in conference play, the Horned Frogs played every match close this season, including a 0-0 overtime draw against the heavily favored conference opponent West Virginia. TCU is the third Big 12 team on the NCAA’s top-20 toughest schedules list at No. 18. The Horned Frogs, like the Bears, travel to Oklahoma to play both Oklahoma Big 12 schools — Oklahoma State on Friday and OU on Sunday.

Texas Tech (0-2-1, 10-2-1)

The Red Raiders started the season with so much promise, but so far have failed to live up to those expectations, losing twice and tying once in their three first matches in Big 12 play this season. Texas Tech started the season with a perfect 10-0 record, but has flopped in league play. Texas junior Ali Murphy is fifth in the nation in total assists with 10, and her teammate Janine Beckie is 12th in the nation with four game-winning goals. Tech travels to Morgantown, W. Va. to face the Mountaineers.

Iowa State (6-8-0, 0-4-0)

The Cyclones came into the Big 12 season over .500 by two games, but lost four straight games in conference play, plummeting to dead last in conference. Iowa State has had a disastrous start to their Big 12 run, and have lost every match without scoring a single goal. The Cyclones are on a bye week this weekend.