Big 12 Power Rankings: 1st Edition 10/19/2010

This is my first sports related post.  It will be a weekly ranking of Big 12 Conference football teams.

The week of October 16, 2010 saw some definite surprises and the cream is beginning to rise to the top in the Big 12.  Nebraska was exposed as one dimensional in yet another loss to Texas.  Most Big 12 fans must have found this at least mildly amusing as NU is leaving for the Big 10 almost entirely out of jealousy toward Texas.

Big 12 Power Rankings 10/20/2010

1. Oklahoma – The Sooners, while not always dominant are now separating themselves from the rest of the pack.  With a resume that includes a 41-7 win over then No. 17 Florida State, another solid non-con victory over Air Force, and a close win over Texas (who showed this week that the UCLA loss may have been a fluke) in the Red River Shootout, and a classic 52-0 drubbing of Iowa State, the Sooners head into this weekend’s bout with #11 Missouri as the BCS’s No. 1 ranked team.  Though they haven’t always put opponents away in the fashion that some might expect from a national title contender the Sooners, when on there game, look as formidable as ever.

2. Texas – I’m willing to write off UT’s home-loss to UCLA as a fluke.  This team is still immensely talented and coach Mack Brown proved once again that he is a vastly underrated X/O guy in the Longhorns’ 20-13 win at Nebraska.  Brown implemented a really nice wrinkle in utilizing quarterback Garrett Gilbert’s legs.  Gilbert ran for 71 yards and two scores on just 11 carries.  The Longhorn defense kept NU’s Taylor Martinez to just 21 yards on 13 carries and held the Cornhuskers to just 125 yards on 44 carries. The Longhorns have a couple of probable wins on the horizon in home-tilts with Iowa State and Baylor before heading to Manhattan for a date with Bill Snyder and BCS No. 22 Kansas State.

Also, props to UT for beating NU one last time before the Huskers take their ball to the Big 1o.

3. Missouri – The Tigers offense may not seem as high-powered as years past, but their defense for the first time in recent memory seems to a real strength for Gary Pinkel’s squad.  They held Jerrod Johnson and the typically high-scoring Texas A&M Aggies in check in a convincing 30-9 win on Saturday.  Missouri has quietly gone 6-0 and is rated No. 11 in the BCS standings.  The Tigers get their first real test as BCS #1 Oklahoma comes to town for a game with realistic BCS title implications.  Still, we’ve seen this from Missouri before and the Tigers have fallen on their faces seemingly every time that they have had the chance to prove themselves against the Big 12’s top teams.  If NU can beat OU on Saturday they will become the clear No. 1 team in the conference.

4. Nebraska – The Huskers were exposed when Texas came into Lincoln and dominated the them on the way to a 20-13 win that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.  Still, NU still has a salty defense, and has shown the ability to put up a tremendous amount of points on defenses that don’t have the speed to keep up with lightning-quick QB Taylor Martinez.  A crucial date at BCS #14 Oklahoma State will go a long way towards to defining both teams in both conference and national perception.

5. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys have ridden their high-powered offense (49.5 ppg) to a 6-0 record, but their defense has been less than stellar forcing OSU to outscore opponents nearly every week.  The Cowboys, who are looking for their first signature win, will get their opportunity when a sure-to-be fired-up Nebraska team comes to town this weekend.  Texas was able to slow down NU’s Taylor Martinez, it will be a tall order for the Cowboys to do the same, meaning that quarterback Brandon Weeden (327 ypg passing) and tailback Kendall Hunter (138 ypg rushing) will have to pile on the points against a stingy Nebraska defense.

6. Kansas State  – While the Wildcats are not flashy, Bill Snyder has the Wildcats at 5-1 since 2002.  The Wildcats finished that year ranked in the top ten.  K-State is currently ranked #22 in the BCS and would move up if they can manage a road win at a resurgent Baylor squad.  That won’t be easy as KSU has been vulnerable to mobile quarterbacks throughout this season including getting embarrassed by Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez on national TV.  BU quarterback poses yet another mobile threat to the Wildcats and is a much better passer than any QB that KSU has faced this year.  The Wildcats bounced back from the 48-13 loss to NU with a 59-7 drubbing of the hapless Kansas Jayhawks (Baylor beat KU 55-7 on Oct. 2) last Thursday night.  Still, the Wildcats are 3-1 against teams with mobile QBs this season.

7. Baylor – Quarterback Robert Griffin III has literally carried Baylor on his back as the Bears have amassed a 5-2 record.  The Bears’ only losses are to BCS No. 4 TCU and a close loss in a 45-38 shootout with Texas Tech.  Baylor is only one win away from being eligible for its first bowl-berth since 1994.  With a tough schedule ahead a home-tilt with BCS #22 Kansas State should be the Bears best chance for that elusive sixth victory until a Nov. 13 match-up with reeling Texas A&M.

8. Texas A&M – While the Aggies have lost three straight, those defeats have all been relatively close, and they have all come at the hands of considerably strong opponents (Okla. St., Arkansas, Missouri).  The schedule eases up a bit with games at Kansas and a home tilt with Texas Tech.  If QB Jerrod Johnson can keep the turnovers under control (10 int in 2010) the Aggies should be 5-3 (2-2) when Oklahoma invades Aggieland in three weeks.

9. Texas Tech – The Raiders have been hit and miss this season under new head-coach Tommy Tuberville.  While Tuberville has preached defense his team has still given up 38 or more points three times this season including a 52-38 loss to lowly Iowa State on October 2.  Tech bounced back with a win over Baylor the following week before losing to BCS No. 14 Oklahoma State 34-17 last week in a game that was never really in doubt for the Cowboys.  The Raiders try to stay out of the bottom three as they head to Boulder for a contest against the Colorado this week.

10. Colorado – Buff fans stormed the field after a in over 1-4 Georgia earlier this season, but they were denied that chance last Saturday as Baylor escaped Folsom Field with a 31-25 win.  Why CU gave coach Dan Hawkins, who said storming the field is a tradition at CU, another year is anyones guess.  They will get another chance to storm as struggling Texas Tech comes to town this Saturday.

11. Iowa State – It is looking more and more like the Cyclones’ 52 point outburst against Texas Tech was an anomaly.  That or Tech just has a really bad defense.  There hasn’t been a lot to cheer about for coach Paul Rhoads’ this year, as ISU has been beaten by nearly every formidable opponent this season, including losing by a combined 121 points to Oklahoma, Utah and Iowa.  It doesn’t get any easier as the Cyclones travel to Austin for a date with Texas on Saturday.

12. Kansas – New KU head-coach Turner Gill has taken the names of the back of the jerseys, enforced a no-girls-after-10 PM policy, and banned cursing by both players and coaches.  And outside of a now seemingly improbable win over Georgia Tech, he seems to have banned winning as well.  Kansas has lost to FCS North Dakota State, C-USA So. Miss, to go along with their ninth and tenth consecutive conference losses in a row (dating back to last season).  The latter coming by way of absolute thrashings at the hand of once lowly Baylor (55-7) and old nemises Bill Snyder and Kansas State (59-7).  KU gets its three most winnable games in succession beginning with a home-tilt with Texas A&M this Saturday, followed by a roadie at ISU and visit from CU the week after.  If they can’t win one of these three the losing streak will likely climb to 16 heading into 2011.

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