Sports take: Big 12 power rankings through week three

Oklahoma State junior running back Justice Hill runs the ball against Boise State on Saturday. Photo credit: Associated Press

By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer

College football closed out week three this past weekend with teams starting to show what they are truly made of. My Big 12 power rankings have changed up since week one after a couple upsets and offensive shootouts this past weekend.

1. Oklahoma (3-0) (No. 5 in AP poll)

The Sooners continue to rise in the ranks of the AP top 25, moving up from No. 7 to No. 5 since week one. Oklahoma opened up Big 12 play on Saturday with a 37-27 win over Iowa State in which junior quarterback Kyler Murray had yet another all-star performance. Murray threw for 348 yards and three touchdowns, while also being the team’s leading rusher with 77 yards on 15 carries. The Sooners avoided losing two years in a row to Iowa State, and with Murray at the helm of a powerful offense that refuses to slow down, Oklahoma is starting out the season looking like a playoff team yet again.

2. Oklahoma State (3-0) (No. 15 in AP poll)

After a dominating 44-21 performance over No. 17 Boise State on Saturday, Oklahoma State has won by more than double the score of its opponent each week. In the victory over the Broncos, senior quarterback Taylor Cornelius continued to impress. Cornelius had 243 passing yards for one touchdown with no interceptions and 41 yards rushing for two touchdowns. Junior running back Justice Hill ran for 123 yards and a touchdown to record his second game this season with over 100 rushing yards. The defense recorded seven sacks and 10 tackles for loss and will have to keep that up as they look to slow down Texas Tech’s high-scoring offense in week four.

3. West Virginia (2-0) (No. 12 in AP poll)

West Virginia’s game against NC State was canceled last weekend due to Hurricane Florence. In their first two games, senior quarterback Will Grier has moved into Heisman contention after completing 46 of his 60 passing attempts for nine touchdowns and only one interception. With 761 yards passing and a quarterback rating of 229.4 so far, Grier can lead the Mountaineers to a very successful season as he faces the top Big 12 teams (TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma) in the last three games of the season.

4. TCU (2-1) (No. 17 in AP poll)

The Horned Frogs suffered their first loss of the season against No. 4 Ohio State 40-28 on Saturday. Sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson did not help the Horned Frogs’ efforts, throwing for only one touchdown and two Pick 6’s in the game. TCU went into the half up by one over the Buckeyes. After giving up three touchdowns in a span of four minutes in the third quarter, Robinson and the Horned Frogs quickly found themselves down and were held scoreless in the fourth quarter. Given this loss came against one of the best teams in the country, Robinson is going to have to be more careful with the ball as they head to Austin to face the Longhorns who just upset No. 22 USC.

5. Texas (2-1)

Texas is back, right? The Longhorns pulled off a 37-14 upset over No. 22 USC on Saturday to move to 2-1 on the season. Each year, it seems like Texas comes into the season ranked and then immediately proves they were overrated. This year, after a first-game loss against Maryland, Texas dropped from the rankings. After a win against USC, Texas might actually have proved themselves as being the real deal. Sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for 223 yards for two touchdowns and had one rushing touchdown in the win. The real test to see if Texas is truly back will come this weekend as they take on No. 17 TCU in Austin.

6. Texas Tech (2-1)

Points. Points. Points. The Red Raiders lead the Big 12 in points scored with 167 through three games. Seventy-seven of those came in their second game against Lamar in week two. On Saturday, freshman quarterback Alan Bowman put up monster stats, completing 43 of 59 passing attempts for 605 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. Fifty-nine attempts with no interceptions and a completion percentage of 72.9 is unbelievable. Bowman also has a weapon in freshman running back Ta’Zhawn Henry, who led the running backs with 111 yards on 22 attempts for four touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Antoine Wesley already has 413 yards on the season and is averaging 18 yards per catch. With the two freshmen in the back field and multiple receivers who already have over 200 yards, this powerful offense couldn’t even be slowed down by Houston star junior defensive tackle Ed Oliver. If Bowman and the Red Raiders can continue this kind of point output and their defense finds a way to slow down Big 12 offenses, don’t be surprised to see them rise through the ranks.

7. Baylor (2-1)

Baylor lost for the first time this season, falling to Duke 40-27 on Saturday in a game filled with mistakes for the Bears. After a hot start to the season, particularly after last season’s 0-9 start, Baylor seemed to take a step back Saturday. Wide receivers dropped too many balls that would have resulted in first downs or large gains, but instead led to punts and three-and-outs. The rushing game continued to struggle Saturday with the leading running back, junior JaMycal Hasty, only having 13 yards on four carries with no touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer was unable to connect with any receivers for a touchdown and had just 175 yards passing with no touchdowns. If the Bears can figure out a way to get the offensive line and running game going and not make so many unforced errors, the season could turn around quickly. After Kansas put up 400 yards on the ground, Baylor has to find a way to stop the Jayhawks as they come to Waco this weekend.

8. Kansas State (2-1)

Kansas State finally seemed to find its game after a struggle to barely beat South Dakota 27-24 in its season opener and loss to No. 18 Mississippi State 10-31 in week two. The Wildcats took out the UTSA Roadrunners 41-17 on Saturday with sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson completing 13 of his 18 passing attempts for 213 yards and two touchdowns. Thompson led the ground game with 66 yards and a touchdown as well. The offense seemed to get itself back together this week behind the passing game but, like Baylor’s offense, needs to improve as it moves into conference play and opens against Will Grier and the Mountaineers in West Virginia.

9. Kansas (2-1)

For the first time since 2011, Kansas is on a win streak! That win streak has come against Central Michigan and Rutgers, who are not the most challenging teams in the world. Yet the fashion of how the Jayhawks won over Rutgers did give glimpses of what could be for Kansas. In the game, nine rushers recorded 400 rushing yards on 48 carries for four touchdowns. The passing game was nothing near as special as the run game as they totaled 144 yards on 15 completions and one touchdown. The Jayhawks won’t be able to rely solely on the ground game for conference play. The passing game needs to find a way to be more of a threat to go along with the rushing. The Jayhawks still have to prove themselves and we will get the first glimpse of that as they head into Waco to face a Baylor team who struggled to get anything going.

10. Iowa State (0-2)

After an offensively-poor first game of the season for the Cyclones where they only scrounged up 188 total yards and no touchdowns, Iowa State looked like they might upset Oklahoma for the second year in a row. Sophomore quarterback Zeb Noland started the game after senior quarterback Kyle Kempt was injured in the Iowa game. Noland completed 25 of 36 passing attempts for two touchdowns and one interception in the game. Against Iowa the week prior, Noland had just four completions on 10 attempts for 43 yards when he took over for Kempt. The significant improvement hints at Iowa State maybe finding a way to its first win next week against Akron. The run game, though, is going to need some work. The Cyclones have 106 total rushing yards on the season. In order to move up and win games, the offense needs to figure itself out before next week.