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Big 12 Power Rankings - Week 8: Clear As Mud

The conference is jumbled, with definite tiers of teams but really unclear boundaries between tiers.
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The conference hierarchy is really starting to solidify, but with so many teams that are as evenly matched as in the Big 12, there is still a lot of potential for some volatility in the rankings. And as we see with Oklahoma, there can be just as much to be gained by not having a game (and avoiding an embarrassing performance) as you can by getting an uneven win. 

The top contenders will spend the next few weeks beating each other up and trying to avoid random trap games, so let's get into this week's snapshot of the conference.

A quick reminder on how I intend to do this power ranking. It is NOT just going to be restating the standings. It is entirely possible that a team that has a worse record lands higher on the list, especially if they are playing really well as of late. Similarly, it is also not going to be a "who's hottest" list. Instead, it will be a subjective mix of which team is playing better and which team I think IS better, with a tiebreaker going to teams that have significantly outperformed my expectations.

Previous Power Rankings:

So with that, here are the Blue Wings Rising Big 12 Football Power Rankings after Week 8:

1. TCU Horned Frogs (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) (LW: 1 High: 1)

Last Week: 38-28 W vs #17 Kansas State
This Week: at West Virginia (3-4, 1-3 Big 12)

Sure, the Horned Frogs have had close calls and a bit of injury luck, with Oklahoma, Kansas and Kansas State all losing their starting quarterback to injury early in their games. But it's impossible to deny that their offense has been electric this season, and the defense has stepped up to make big plays when needed. Feel free to doubt them if you want, but do so at your own risk.

2. Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) (LW: 2, High: 1)

Last Week: 41-34 W vs #20 Texas
This Week: at #22 Kansas State (5-2, 3-1 Big 12)

Oklahoma State bounced back from a tough loss to TCU by mounting yet another comeback against the Texas Longhorns in the second half. The defense clamped down on Quinn Ewers and the Texas offense in the final period, allowing Spencer Sanders to lead the comeback and keep the Cowboys in the running for the Big 12 Championship. That style of complementary football will be huge down the stretch.

3. Texas Longhorns (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) (LW: 4 High: 5)

Last Week: 41-34 L at #11 Oklahoma State
This Week: BYE

The Longhorns blew yet another double digit second half lead under head coach Steve Sarkisian. There is no doubting that quarterback Quinn Ewers has talent, but he is a true freshman. His has made some critical mistakes that have hurt their chances to finish games. The defense is still towards the top of the conference and we'll get an idea if it is enough down the stretch. 

4. Oklahoma Sooners (4-3, 1-3 Big 12) (LW: 5, High 3)

Last Week: BYE
This Week: at Iowa State (3-4, 0-4 Big 12)

The bye week right after an encouraging performance against the Jayhawks has given many time to forget just how bad the defense has been in the past. But this was a team that was always going to go as far as their offense can take them, and the offense looks to be back on track. We will find out whether the Sooners' offense is actually improved when they face off against an Iowa State defense that ranks in the top 10.

5. Kansas State Wildcats (5-2, 3-1 Big 12) (LW: 3 High: 1)

Last Week: 38-28 L at #8 TCU
This Week: vs #9 Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1 Big 12)

This ranking drop for the Wildcats might seem a bit harsh, but there is an open question about whether Adrian Martinez will be back. Despite the great showing by Will Howard, there is a reason he is the backup, and we have seen countless backups look fantastic in their first partial game only to see them struggle when a team has the full week to prepare for them. Until Martinez returns, it is hard to give them that boost back up.

6. Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) (LW: 7 High: 3)

Last Week: 48-10 W vs West Virginia
This Week: vs Baylor (4-3, 2-2 Big 12)

Thanks to the fantastic performances by quarterback Behren Morton, I was tempted to boost Texas Tech up a couple more spots. But the defense has struggled against teams that have competent offenses, and so I need to see them shut down a Baylor team that is struggling in its own right before I jump them into the top half of the conference.

7. Baylor Bears (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) (LW: 9 High: 6)

Last Week: 35-23 W vs Kansas
This Week: at Texas Tech (4-3, 2-2 Big 12)

Baylor was able to get back on track at home against a depleted Kansas Jayhawks squad, but that isn't anything to scoff at when you have been as inconsistent as this team has this year. Blake Shapen continued his pattern of playing well enough to win before almost giving it all back with some critical errors, but the defense did enough to get them the victory. But if they have a similar performance against any team at full strength (even the Jayhawks), then I have a hard time seeing them winning.

8. Kansas Jayhawks (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) (LW: 6, High: 1)

Last Week: 35-23 L at Baylor
This Week: BYE

The injuries for the Kansas Jayhawks have been brutal, with multiple key players going down and critical times, and many players fighting through some significant injuries to try to help the team. Until they can get some key players back in the lineup at full strength, especially Jalon Daniels, Lonnie Phelps, Kenny Logan and more, it is going to be hard to expect any more wins.

It is still unknown if early playmakers like Cobee Bryant and Daniel Hishaw are going to be able to return, but the depth that Jayhawks have has served them well. They just don't have enough in the 3rd or 4th string to continue rotating players with the same degree of success they had early in the year.

9. West Virginia Mountaineers (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) (LW: 8 High: 8)

Last Week: 48-10 L at Texas Tech
This Week: vs #7 TCU (7-0, 4-0 Big 12)

The roller coaster continues, as West Virginia followed up a gritty win over the Bears by getting blown out by Texas Tech. It's hard to imagine that things will get much better soon, as they face TCU at home this week, Iowa State up in Ames and then run through the gauntlet of Oklahoma, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. They may not have another win on the schedule, depending on which Iowa State offense they face.

10. Iowa State Cyclones (3-4, 0-4 Big 12) (LW: 10 High: 5)

Last Week: BYE
This Week: vs Oklahoma (4-3, 1-3 Big 12)

The bye week didn't do much to shore up confidence in Iowa State's offense, but they were trending in the right direction against Texas. And it helps that they face an Oklahoma defense that has struggled in basically every game this season, so Hunter Dekkers should get some opportunities.

The defense is an elite unit, but they are not able to win games on their own. Until the offense can show some consistency (or they beat West Virginia next week in Ames), it is hard to justify moving Iowa State out of the conference cellar.

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