By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer
This past weekend for the Big 12 was one of the most exciting and surprising weekends since last season with several upsets to shift the entire standing of the conference. Here are my takes on the new Big 12 power rankings.
1. Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0) (No. 6 in AP poll)
The Sooners escaped with a 28-21 overtime win at home against Army in what was, surprisingly, the closest game for Oklahoma on the season. Junior quarterback Kyler Murray, for the third game in a row, threw for three touchdowns while rushing for one. Army did a good job of keeping the Sooners’ explosive offense off the field by having possession of the ball for 44:41, compared to Oklahoma’s 15:19. The Sooners were still able to pull off the win, thanks in part to sophomore linebacker Kenneth Murray and senior linebacker Curtis Bolton who combined for 51 tackles on the night. With only 40 passing yards from 8 passing attempts from Army junior quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr., the main threat was on the ground where the Knights had 339 yards, 102 of which came from Hopkins. The Sooners secured the game with two late interceptions and a touchdown in overtime. Oklahoma will not likely face an offense like Army’s again this season as it heads into Big 12 play against Baylor in Norman, Okla.
2. West Virginia (4-0, 1-0) (No. 12 in AP poll)
The Mountaineers absolutely rocked Kansas State 35-6 led by senior quarterback Will Grier’s five touchdown passes in the win. The Heisman hopeful completed 25 of his 35 passing attempts for 356 yards but had two interceptions, giving him three total so far this season. West Virginia managed to hold Kansas State to no touchdowns and 318 total yards, only 91 of which were rushing, to cruise by the Wildcats for the win. The Mountaineers held them to converting just 3-of-14 on third down. West Virginia faces a tougher challenge this weekend in Texas Tech who just knocked off the former No. 15 team in the country: Oklahoma State. West Virginia will have to slow down the Red Raiders and score points, which shouldn’t be hard with Grier at the helm, in order to remain perfect on the season.
3. Texas (3-1) (No. 18 in AP poll)
I’m still a skeptic that Texas is officially back, but it sure looked like it as the Longhorns took down former No. 17 TCU 31-16 in Austin. After back-to-back wins over ranked teams, Texas found its way back into the Top 25. While its offense may not be as dynamic as other Big 12 teams, sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns while scoring another on the ground. The Longhorns’ defense stepped up to hold sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson to just one touchdown pass and two interceptions. While the Horned Frogs had more total yards than the Longhorns, offensive struggles for TCU for the second game in a row made the victory that much easier for Texas.
4. Texas Tech (3-1) (No. 25 in AP poll)
The Red Raiders absolutely ran over Oklahoma State with a 41-17 win at Boone Pickens Stadium for the third win of the season and first win over a ranked team. Oklahoma State was ranked No. 15 at the time but did not play as if it was as Tech held it to under 400 yards for the first time this season. Freshman quarterback Alan Bowman had 397 passing yards for two touchdowns and the first two interceptions in his collegiate career. With three more touchdowns and 224 yards coming from the run game, Tech’s offense continues to impress under Bowman and remains at the top of the Big 12 in points scored with 208 through four games.
5. Oklahoma State (3-1)
The Cowboys lost their first game of the season to Tech’s dynamic offense and, for the first time this season, did not score more than 44 points in the game in the 41-17 loss. Coming off a 44-27 victory to upset then No. 17 Boise State, Oklahoma State failed to find its way into the end zone as often as it has been after senior quarterback Taylor Cornelius completed only 18 of his 38 passing attempts for one touchdown and one interception. Junior running back Justice Hill performed as well as he normally has on the season for the offense with 111 yards and a touchdown. Even though they could not find their scoring rhythm, the Cowboys face Kansas next Saturday which should get their offense back on track.
6. TCU (2-2)
The Horned Frogs, like the Cowboys, fell this weekend after being upset by Texas 31-16 in what was a poor performance by sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson and the offense for the second week in a row. The Horned Frogs had four turnovers, giving Texas multiple chances to take and increase its lead after going into the half with TCU leading 13-10. With this being the second loss, now resulting in a two-game losing streak, TCU has this weekend to figure out what they need to fix as they face Iowa State before taking on Texas Tech and Oklahoma. If they cannot fix the turnover issues and lack of scoring, the Horned Frogs could quickly find themselves under .500.
7. Baylor (3-1)
The Bears were the first team this season to successfully slow down Kansas freshman running back Pooka Williams and, by doing so, recorded their third win of the season through the first week of Big 12 play. The defense for the Bears showed up ready to play by logging four sacks and nine tackles for loss to hold the Jayhawks to 271 total yards. The offense for Baylor ,for the first time this season, was led by sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer for the majority of the game, rather than the usual two quarterback system we’ve seen in the first three weeks. Brewer had his best overall game of the season with 19 completions for 221 yards, three touchdowns and 57 yards rushing. With a season best completion percentage of 70.4 percent, Brewer proved just how accurate he can be with the Jayhawks defense coming into the game with a plus-12 turnover margin; good for best in the nation. We will see if the same defense shows up ready to stop Kyler Murray this weekend as the Bears face their first ranked opponent in Oklahoma.
8. Iowa State (1-3)
The Cyclones were able to find their first game to put in the win column with a 26-13 victory over Akron. The defense as well as the special teams were really the main reasons Iowa State was able to pick up a win. Sophomore kicker Connor Assalley knocked down all four field goals and two extra points to make up 14 of the 26 points Iowa State was able to get on the board. The defense had four sacks in the game with 20 tackles for loss to hold Akron from scoring more than 13 points. With a lackluster offense that could only find the end zone twice forcing the team to rely on its defense, it could be a long season for the Cyclones as they face, TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in the next three weeks. If they cannot find more points during those games, there’s a good chance the defense won’t be able to carry the team to another victory for a while.
9. Kansas (2-2)
Kansas was back to looking more like the Kansas we are all used to as it fell to Baylor 26-7. Going into the game, the Jayhawks came in with consecutive wins for the first time since 2011. The Jayhawks failed to get their elusive freshman running back Pooka Williams going with only 89 yards rushing, 72 of which came off of one rushing attempt. The passing game was split between three quarterbacks who combined for only 149 passing yards and one touchdown. Having only a total of 271 yards, Kansas’s offense slowed down a considerate amount after a 55-14 victory over Rutgers the previous week. With the next matchup being against Oklahoma State, the defense will have to return to forcing turnovers against the Cowboys since the Jayhawks’ offense isn’t enough to rely on.
10. Kansas State (2-2)
The Wildcats were coming off a 41-17 win over UTSA where it looked like the team finally figured itself out, but that failed to be the case as they failed to score one touchdown in the 35-6 loss against West Virginia. The offense was only able to get 77 yards in the first half and wasn’t able to get across midfield until the third quarter. Sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson had 145 yards passing on 11 completions before being replaced by junior quarterback Alex Delton who threw for 82 yards on 7 completions. Without a touchdown from the quarterbacks or on the ground game, the offense for Kansas State has revealed just how many problems it has to deal with. Going into next week against Texas, the Wildcats have won the previous five meetings between the two in Manhattan, Kan., but it is likely that will change since there isn’t much of an offense for Texas to face.