Sports take: Big 12 football power rankings

Texas junior receiver Devin Duvernay dives for the catch against Maryland on Saturday. The Longhorns lost their season opener 34-29 to the Terrapins. Photo credit: Associated Press

By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer

College football is finally back and we saw obvious wins and surprising upsets during the opening weekend. In the Big 12 Conference, the preseason rankings from ESPN predicted how each team would fare at the start. Now that the first games have happened, here’s how I would rank each team in the conference.

1. Oklahoma (1-0) (No. 6 in AP poll)

This season the Sooners started out at No. 7 in the AP poll. Even with the loss of its star quarterback, Baker Mayfield, and other big playmakers, the Sooners picked right back up where they left off. In its first game, Oklahoma took down Florida Atlantic 63-14 Saturday in Norman, Okla. With 650 total yards and no turnovers, the Sooners looked like the 2017 team that made a run to the College Football Playoff. Junior quarterback Kyler Murray completed 9 of 11 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Not only did the offense show how powerful it was, but the defense held FAU to 324 total yards. The Sooners also intercepted one pass and recorded two sacks. After this strong first outing, the Sooners are the team to beat in the Big 12.

2. TCU (1-0) (No. 16 in AP poll)

In week one, TCU ran by Southern 55-7 Saturday in Fort Worth. While the victory didn’t come as much of a surprise to fans, the defense proved how well it could play. TCU held Southern to just one touchdown and 185 total yards. The Horned Frogs also picked off two passes and recovered one fumble. Southern had a hard time finding a first down against the Horned Frog defense, going 3 of 14 on third downs. TCU sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson led the offense to five of the six touchdowns off of three passes and two touchdown runs. If the Horned Frogs defense can continue to lock down teams and Robinson continues to tear defenses apart, they will be a very hard team to stop.

3. Oklahoma State (1-0)

The Cowboys took out Missouri State Thursday in Stillwater, 58-17. Despite former quarterback Mason Rudolph and several key wide receivers gone, the offense for the Cowboys showed no signs of slowing down with senior quarterback Taylor Cornelius completing 24 of 34 passing attempts for 295 yards and five touchdowns. Junior running back Justice Hill is returning at running back after having over 1,400 yards last season and had 10 rushes for 122 yards and a touchdown on Thursday. If Hill can remain healthy and Cornelius plays as well as he did in the opener, the Cowboys will continue to climb the ranks throughout the season.

4. West Virginia (1-0) (No. 14 in AP poll)

Coming off a 7-6 season in 2017, West Virginia needed to get off to a good start to prove it belongs in the top-25. The Mountaineers did just that when they defeated Tennessee, 40-14, on Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. West Virginia senior quarterback Will Grier picked apart the defense throwing 429 of the total 547 yards West Virginia had. He also threw all five of the touchdowns scored. With the rushing game not showing out as much as the passing game, six rushers splitting 118 yards, the Mountaineers are going to have to rely on Grier to play this well. Regardless, it’s always tougher to go on the road especially in the first game of the season, and the Mountaineers showed they are ready to play this season.

5. Baylor (1-0)

Head coach Matt Rhule is coming into his second season with Baylor looking to prove himself after a disappointing 1-11 record in the 2017 season. Now with a team that knows the playbook much better than last year, the Bears are set up for much more success than last season. Baylor tied its record for wins last season already with a 55-27 victory over Abilene Christian Saturday night at McLane Stadium for the team’s first home win since 2016. The offense ran all over the Wildcats, racking up 606 total yards. Both the passing game and rushing game showed glimpses of just how powerful they can be. Senior Jalan McClendon and sophomore Charlie Brewer split snaps at quarterback for the game. McClendon threw for two touchdowns, while Brewer was unable to find the end zone before leaving the game due to a back injury. Sophomore running back John Lovett and junior running back JaMycal Hasty each had over 100 yards rushing and had three and two touchdowns, respectively. While the defense had one sack and an interception, they still allowed 466 yards of offense. Even with some defensive lapses, the offense found its rhythm and proved the Bears could be a team that finds its way back in the top-25.

6. Kansas State (1-0)

The Wildcats pulled off a win over South Dakota, 27-24, Saturday in Manhattan, Kan. The offense recorded 408 total yards while surrendering 334 total yards to the Jackrabbits. Junior quarterback Alex Delton only completed five of his 14 passing attempts with no touchdowns and one interception. The scoring came from field goals for the, one punt return and a receiving touchdown. The offense had a hard time finding a way to click for Kansas State but was still able to get a win to start out the season. Without an offense that can put touchdowns on the board, the Wildcats could have a hard time this season against powerful offenses in the Big 12.

7. Texas (0-1)

Coming into the season ranked No. 21 in the AP poll, Texas dropped its first game of the season to Maryland, 34-29, Saturday in College Park, Maryland. Sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger had 263 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The rushing game was led by graduate running back Tre Watson who had 12 attempts for 52 yards. While Texas was able to overcome a 24-7 deficit in the second quarter, they gave up a touchdown and a field goal in the fourth quarter to give the Terrapins the win. Next week, the Longhorns take on Tulsa in Austin. The team will have to figure out a way to get a win, otherwise it could be a long season for Texas after starting out 0-2.

8. Texas Tech (0-1)

While the offense managed to get 486 total yards, the Red Raiders lost their opener against Ole Miss, 47-27, Saturday in Houston. Freshman quarterback Alan Bowman showed glimpses of his talent by completing 29 of his 49 passing attempts for 273 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore running back Da’Leon Ward led the rushers with 90 yards from 17 attempts and two touchdowns. This young backfield for the Red Raiders is going to have to find a way to score more points to keep up with other teams in the Big 12. With a strong possession time and 31 first downs, the Raiders have the talent but just need to finish drives in order to win.

9. Iowa State (0-0)

The Cyclones had their season opener against San Diego State cancelled due to a lightning delay that lasted over two and a half hours.

10. Kansas (0-1)

The Jayhawks suffered a loss in a game many thought they could win. Kansas fell to Nicholls State, 26-23, Saturday in Lawrence, Kan. Racking up only 255 total yards, the offense for the Jayhawks continues to struggle as much as ever. After a loss to a non-Football Bowl Series school, Kansas could be in for a rough season if they can’t bring the offense together.