After two weeks of largely-underwhelming results across the league, the Big 12 made a small statement in Week 3 with some decent wins. Additionally, TCU’s performance — albeit in a losing effort — was enough to help boost the perception of the conference’s bottom nine.
But how do these teams stack up through three weeks? The sample size is still small, and only one conference game has been played, but let’s give it a go:
1. Oklahoma (3-0, 1-0) - The team that technically tops the conference’s actual standings has also been the most impressive overall. With a highly-productive offense, a better-than-average defense (despite the poor back-end tackling) and a QB with more moxie than many might have expected, this conference belongs to the Oklahoma Sooners until further notice.
2. TCU (2-1, 0-0) - Yep, I’m keeping the Frogs at No. 2 after a loss. Aside from a miserable four-minute stretch, this team hung with one of the most talented teams in college football and looked good doing so. I wouldn’t picture WVU or Okie Lite faring as well in that situation, so the Frogs stay put.
3. West Virginia (2-0, 0-0) - I went back-and-forth on this due to OSU probably having the league’s best non-conference victory, but there’s no way I’d pick the Aggies over the Mountain Aggies on a neutral field — at least not at this point. However, we don’t have much of a sample to work with, as Hurricane Florence prevented the West Virginia-NC State game from taking place. Because of this, WVU is still a bit of a mystery.
4. Oklahoma State (3-0, 0-0) - OSU often overwhelmed Boise State’s offensive line this past weekend, but that’s largely an indictment of the Bronco front. Nevertheless, I was impressed with what I saw from new DC Jim Knowles, and the Cowboys appear primed to have another solid season. Having said that, the toughest tests will come when the OSU OL has to face above-average defensive fronts, as the offensive line is still a bit of a question mark.
5. Texas (2-1, 0-0) - Disclaimer: Texas is not back, and USC is trash. Unfortunately, I do have to admit that holding USC (again: trash) to -5 rushing yards (which includes -26 in sack yardage) is kind of impressive. This defense is probably going to be a bit salty by season’s end, and the offense didn’t look that terrible this past week. The QB situation lowers this team’s ceiling, but placing them in the middle of the pack is probably fair.
6. Iowa State (0-2, 0-1) - After a pair of 10-point losses to Oklahoma and Iowa, this still looks like a bowl team. Things rarely come easy against this defense. Offensively, there’s enough firepower at the skill positions to hang with most teams in this conference. The schedule immediately following this week’s game against Akron is tough (at TCU, at Oklahoma State, vs. West Virginia), but the home stretch should be kind to the ‘Clones. 6-6 or 7-5 are definitely doable.
7. Kansas State (2-1, 0-0) - Recent K-State offenses haven’t been explosive (it’s not really their style), but the unit seemed to actually be a train wreck through two weeks. The only justification for optimism came from the hope that the defense could be pretty solid. Things looked slightly better on Saturday, as Skyler Thompson was allowed to take the bulk of the snaps and was able to develop some rhythm at QB.
8. Texas Tech (2-1, 0-0) - Following a 63-49 victory over Houston, the Red Raiders are here by default. They don’t belong in the conversation with the potentially “good” teams, but they at least have more offensive firepower than the remaining two.
9. Baylor (2-1, 0-0) - Baylor actually outgained a halfway-decent Duke team on Saturday, but don’t be fooled. This team still lacks stability at the QB position and has a weak defense. Another 1-8 conference record isn’t out of the question.
10. Kansas (2-1, 0-0) - In spite of Joey Galloway’s absurd takes, Kansas is still Kansas, but I’m glad that Jayhawk football fans (they exist, I promise) have been able to experience a modicum of joy in September.
Big 12 Schedule - Week 4
Akron at Iowa State - FSN, 11 a.m.
Kansas at Baylor - FS1, 2:30 p.m.
Kansas State at West Virginia - ESPN, 2:30 p.m.
TCU at Texas - FOX, 3:30 p.m.
Army at Oklahoma - PPV, 6 p.m.
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State - FS1, 6 p.m.