By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer
The Big 12 had both dominating wins and close losses this weekend to shift up the rankings. As we get into the second half of the season, here is where I think the teams stand.
1. Oklahoma (4-1, 7-1) (No. 7 in AP poll)
Junior quarterback Kyler Murray continued to prove why his name belongs in the Heisman talks as he led the Sooners to a 51-14 win over the Kansas State Wildcats. Murray finished his day completing 19 of his 24 passing attempts for 352 yards and three touchdowns, along with 46 rushing yards and another touchdown. Freshman running back Kennedy Brooks is finding his stride, coming off a 168-yard game last week to record a 94-yard, two-touchdown game against Kansas State. Oklahoma is now averaging 48.9 points a game and only trails Alabama, Houston and Utah State in that category. The Sooners also rank fourth in yards with 4,386 behind Houston, Alabama and Ohio State. Oklahoma’s only loss this season is to Texas. The Sooners look as though they are the most consistent, best hope for the Big 12 to make the playoffs, with their biggest threat coming from the last game of the season against the No. 12-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers.
2. West Virginia (6-1, 4-1) (No. 12 in AP poll)
The Mountaineers took care of business, taking out Baylor 58-14 in Morgantown in dominating fashion. Senior quarterback Will Grier had a monster game, passing for 353 yards and three touchdowns to go with another touchdown on the ground before leaving the game at the end of the third quarter. Senior wide receiver David Sills V had five receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns to lead all receivers. The biggest story came from the defensive side of the ball for West Virginia, as they forced three interceptions, a fumble recovery and had five sacks and 12 tackles for loss. The defense held Baylor to only 14 points, all of which came in the third quarter. West Virginia still has to face No. 15 Texas and No. 7 Oklahoma in its schedule, but with the team performing as it did against the Bears, it could pose a serious threat to the top teams in the Big 12.
3. Texas (6-2, 4-1) (No. 15 in AP poll)
The Longhorns suffered their second loss of the season on Saturday, falling to Oklahoma State 38-35 in Stillwater, Okla. Sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger returned to lead the Longhorns after leaving the Baylor game early two weeks prior with a shoulder sprain. Ehlinger threw for the second-most passing yards he has had all season with 283 on 22 attempts, two of which connected for touchdowns. He also got the job done with his legs, rushing for two touchdowns and 47 yards. The defense did not perform as well as it had been, allowing 502 yards, and couldn’t keep the Cowboys off the field as the Oklahoma State offense held the ball for 34:28. As it comes off its second loss, the Longhorns turn to face the Mountaineers, who are coming off their largest margin of victory this season.
4. Iowa State (4-3, 3-2)
The Cyclones took out the Texas Tech Red Raiders 40-31 this weekend, completing the month of October with a perfect record. Iowa State’s hot streak did not slow down as the defense ended the game with a touchdown, two sacks, four passes deflected, a safety and three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. The Cyclones remain as the most intriguing team in the Big 12. Usually at this point in the season, they lose their rhythm and go back to looking how they did at the beginning of the season. With Kansas and Baylor coming up, Iowa State could soon become bowl eligible with freshman quarterback Brock Purdy leading the offense and the defense forcing so many turnovers.
5. Texas Tech (5-3, 3-2)
The Red Raiders fell 40-31 to Iowa State as the offense went up 10-0 early in the game, but failed to put up more than seven points in the each of the final three quarters. Part of that was due to freshman quarterback Alan Bowman throwing for 323 yards and only one touchdown and three interceptions on 56 passing attempts, 32 of which were completed. Granted, the rushing game was non-existent for Texas Tech as it only managed 30 total yards, forcing Bowman to do much more to carry the team. The Red Raiders had a good chance to secure bowl eligibility against Iowa State and will have a hard time doing so in the upcoming weeks as they face the Sooners and Longhorns in back-to-back games.
6. Oklahoma State (5-3, 2-3)
Oklahoma State went back to looking more like Oklahoma State as it took out then-No. 6 Texas behind three touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns from senior quarterback Taylor Cornelius, who rebounded from two straight losses to lead the team to upset the Longhorns. Cornelius scored every touchdown for the Cowboys in the 3-point win over a Texas team who has allowed the second lowest number of points to a conference opponent. Oklahoma State needs Cornelius to play lights out for a couple more weeks as it heads to Oklahoma in two weeks and faces West Virginia at home a week later.
7. Baylor (4-4, 2-3)
The Bears struggled on both sides of the ball as they fell to West Virginia 58-14 in Morgantown, W. Va. Baylor’s defense remains the worst in the Big 12, allowing opponents to average 34.4 points per game while putting up 31 points per game on the offensive side. Baylor gave up 568 yards and seven touchdowns as each receiver and running back seemed to slip right by the Bears’ defense for touchdowns. While the Mountaineers may be one of the best teams in college football, Baylor did not perform well at all, especially with sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer completing only one of his eight passing attempts and throwing three interceptions before leaving the game due to concussion protocol. The lack of defense and struggles on offense are not a good sign for Baylor fans hoping for a bowl game as the final stretch of games begin.
8. Kansas State (3-5, 1-4)
The lowest scoring offense in the Big 12, Kansas State, suffered a 51-14 loss to the highest scoring offense in the Big 12, Oklahoma. The Wildcats managed just 245 total yards on the day, while giving up 702 to the Sooners. The passing game is still nothing to be wild about for Kansas State fans as sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson threw for 108 yards and no touchdowns. The only two touchdowns came on the ground from Thompson and senior running back Justin Silmon in the second and fourth quarters. The Wildcats have faced the top three teams in the Big 12 and now have an easier couple of weeks coming up against Kansas and TCU.
9. Kansas (3-5, 1-4)
The Jayhawks pulled off a 27-26 win over TCU, thanks to the defense having the best turnover differential in the Big 12, to give them their first October win since 2009. Thanks to a late touchdown reception from freshman running back Pooka Williams Jr. and a late TCU fumble, Kansas was able to hang on for the win. Kansas has not won three games since 2014 and it seems unlikely that they will find a fourth. The only real chance they have is against Kansas State in two weeks as they face Iowa State next week and Oklahoma and Texas in the weeks following the matchup with the Wildcats.
10. TCU (3-5, 1-4)
The Horned Frogs have fallen from the top of the Big 12 to the bottom this season with their most recent loss coming from a 27-26 loss to Kansas. TCU had over 500 total yards while holding Kansas to 307 total yards and converted eight of 12 third downs, but an interception and a late fumble from junior running back Darius Anderson, who ran into the back of his own lineman late in the game, cost the Horned Frogs the chance of winning. TCU has now lost five of its last six games and the lack of scoring has contributed to many of those losses.