Big 12 Power Rankings: 3rd Edition 11/3/2010

Missouri’s perch atop of the Big 12 mountain was short-lived as the Tigers spotted Nebraska a 24 point lead before falling to the Huskers 31-17 in Lincoln; Baylor dismissed more doubters, beating Texas (whose critics are getting louder) for the first time in 13 years; Oklahoma State managed to top Kansas State in Manhattan despite being without  WR Justin Blackmon.  Amidst it all OU cruised to an easy 43-10 home-win over Colorado, landing them back atop the rankings after a short hiatus.

1. Oklahoma – The Sooners are back on top, and in a league without a truly dominant team OU has posted the best resume to date.  It would be hard to pick any Big 12 team over the Sooners on a neutral field.  Their week nine win over Colorado wasn’t noteworthy, but their passing performance was.  The Sooners passed for 488 yards as a team, QB Landry Jones was 32-46 for 453 yards and 4 TDs.  His top target was WR Ryan Broyles who hauled in 9 passes for 208 yards and 3 TDs.  Broyles performance broke the OU school-record for most receiving yards in a game; Jones passed for the second most yards in a single game by an OU QB.

2. Nebraska – The Cornhuskers can’t beat Texas, but they are really, really good against everybody else.  After bouncing back from their loss to the Longhorns with a 51-41 road win against Oklahoma State, NU handled formerly unbeaten, then BCS No. 6, Missouri 31-17 in Lincoln.  The Huskers jumped out to a 24-0 first quarter lead and rode RB Roy Helu’s 307 rushing yards the rest of the way to put themselves in position to win the North and play for the Big 12 title in their final year in the league before jumping to the Big Ten next season.

3. Missouri – In typical Missouri fashion, just when the Tigers sniff success it all comes tumbling down.  Well, it isn’t that bad the MU is still a really good team and their defense is improved but true top ten teams do not give up 328 yards to anyone.  Mizzou competed gallantly after the first quarter debacle gutting the Nebraska lead to 24-14 with 7:30 remaining in the 3rd quarter, and the Tigers are still a dangerous team with an improved defense but they failed to take that next step with the loss in Lincoln.

4. ≡ Oklahoma State – Cowboys coach Mike Gundy is still a man and he expects his players to be men as well.  Accordingly Gundy decided to sit high-profile WR Justin Blackmon for OSU’s week 9 road trip to Kansas State after Blackmon spent the previous Monday in Dallas attending the Dallas Cowboy’s Monday night game and getting a DUI.  OSU relied heavily on it’s running game, chewing up clock and amassing 213 yards rushing in their 24-14 win over K-State.  OSU’s lone loss on the season was a 51-41 shootout against Nebraska in Stillwater. Blackmon will be back Saturday, and the Cowboys will need him as Robert Griffin and Baylor’s high-powered offense invade Still water in week 10.

5. ≡ Baylor – The Bears pulled of another banner win by beating Texas 30-22 in Austin and Art Briles has his team positioned to make a serious run at the south title.  Robert Griffin leads the Bears into a probable shootout against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, win that one and the could be playing for a shot at the Big 12 title game when they host Oklahoma on November 20.  That would be a monumental accomplishment for a program that hasn’t been to a bowl game in 16 years. Interesting side note: If BU can manage to make it to and/or win the Big 12 title game this year it could be a huge boon to TCU’s national title hopes.

6. ≡ Texas – Mack Brown’s team has lost more home-games this year (3) as Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops has lost in his entire career (2), that is the kind of thing that will make the folks in Texas stir in their spurs.  The Longhorns travel to Manhattan to face a Kansas State team who always seems to find a way to give UT fits, and at 2-3 in the Big 12 the Longhorns can’t afford many more losses if they hope to achieve a winning conference record.  Though K-State has beaten UCLA and ISU, two teams that UT has lost to it is tough to put the Wildcats above the Longhorns with UT’s win over Nebraska a team that KSU is completely incapable of playing with.

7. = Kansas State – The Wildcats are still sitting on 5 wins and still on the outside looking in at bowl eligibility for the first time since 2006.  KSU was unable to take advantage of a defensive effort that held high-powered Oklahoma State to 17 offensive points as in turnovers and miscues in the kicking game cost the Wildcats a chance at a readily winnable game last week in Manhattan.  A snake-bitten Texas team comes to town this week as both teams hope to rebound in what some have dubbed the “Chisholm Trail Rivalry.”

8.  Texas A&M – Maybe it was just the quality of their opponents.  Mike Sherman’s Aggies handled Texas Tech 45-27 in College Station.  A&M, who lead by as many as 25 points in the contest rode former back-up QB Ryan Tannahill’s school-record 449 passing yards to the blowout victory.  The Aggies have now won two in a row to improve their record to 5-3 (2-2), but see their schedule become very difficult once again as they finish out the season with BCS No. 8 Oklahoma, @ BCS No. 21 Baylor, BCS No. 7 Nebraska, and the season finale at Texas in Austin.

9.  Iowa State – The Cyclones looked to be on the brink of disaster as they trailed Kansas 9-7 heading into halftime last week in Ames.  Paul Rhoads’ team regrouped and outscored the hapless Jayhawks 21-7 in the second half to claim the 28-16 win.  The Cyclones now sit at 5-4 (3-2) and can claim bowl eligibility with just one more win.  Their most likely opportunity will be a road trip to Boulder to face a reeling Colorado team.  That game is sandwiched in between two home games against BCS No. 7 Nebraska this week and the finally against BCS No. 12 Missouri.

10. ≡ Texas Tech – Year one has not gone as planned for Tommy Tuberville and the Red Raiders.  Tech was trounced by Texas A&M 45-27 in College Station and is looking squarely at finishing with a 2-6 Big 12 record.  The Raiders host BCS No. 12 Missouri in week 10 before traveling to Norman for a date with BCS No. 8 Oklahoma.  Fortunately for Tech’s bowl hopes the Raiders scheduled two non-conference home-dates against Weber State and Houston to close out the season.  The seat could be getting hot for Tuberville even if TT is able to finish the regular season at 6-6.

11. ≡ Colorado – The Buffaloes are bad.  They are really bad.  Fortunately, their schedule is about to get a lot easier.  CU heads to Lawrence for a match-up with the equally horrid Jayhawks, before hosting Kansas State and Iowa State.  It is unlikely that the Buffs will find their sixth win but Coach Dan Hawkins’ boys might be able to muster out a win or two in their final season in the Big 12.

12. ≡ Kansas – Turner Gill’s squad showed fight in a 28-16 loss at Iowa State in week 9, but it wasn’t enough as KU had to rely on 3rd string QB Quinn Mecham. It was the Jayhawks 11th straight conference loss dating back to last year.  If they are unable to beat Colorado in Lawrence on Saturday the streak will likely balloon to 15 games and carry over to next season.

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