At this point in the season, it’s hard to digest that teams have played 25% of their games. College football gives us so few data points to figure out what a team is. But, at this point in the here and now, pre-season “knowledge” based only on last year’s results are either confirmed or removed from thoughts about teams in this season. In a new-look conference, where do all 14 teams debut in the week four Big 12 power rankings?
Week Four Big 12 Power Rankings
14. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State has played as many quarterbacks as they have games so far this season. None of them is a good answer for Mike Gundy. It would be one thing to see the offense struggling because quarterback was a concern heading into this season. But getting smacked around at home by South Alabama 33-7 by allowing them to rush for 243 yards??? Even with two wins to its name, that type of result lands them at the bottom of the week four Big 12 power rankings.
But another team trying very hard to challenge for the bottom spot early in the season is Dana Holgerson’s Cougars. This team made its Big 12 debut in front of a home crowd that must have had better things to do on Saturday as TCU rolled over Houston 36-13. Houston quarterback Donovan Smith’s career has been filled with more sub-par performances than good ones. He finished Saturday’s game 17-for-35 passing, with no touchdowns, and two interceptions Houston’s lone win came against a UTSA team that, without its star QB, appears to be pretty average. It has been an uninspiring start to the Big 12 season.
12. Iowa State
How far has Matt Campbell’s stock dropped in the last three seasons? He isn’t on any real hot seat, but it was ugly in Athens, Ohio as the Cyclones fell to the Bobcats 10-7. The gambling scandal that broke shortly before the season started appears to have played a big role in terms of the roster. But scoring only seven points against a MAC team (albeit a good one) is a major red flag. The bottom for the Big 12 power rankings is up for grabs this week as they host Oklahoma State, with the Total for this game opening at a whopping 36.5 points (oof).
The Bears finally broke through in 2023 with a decisive win over Long Island 30-7. There wasn’t much to take away from this game other than it was a very workman-like performance against a lesser team. Baylor fans are probably still kicking themselves about letting the Utah game slip away. But now, Dave Aranda shifts his team’s attention to the visiting Longhorns this week looking to spring the upset.
10. Texas Tech
Just like the Bears, the Red Raiders handled its business against a FCS opponent to earn their first victory of the season. The most interesting thing about this game is seeing the quarterbacks split playing time basically evenly in this one. But head coach Joey McGuire confirmed after the game that it was always the plan to play both quarterbacks the way he did. It appears the QB1 spot is still in the firm grasp of Tyler Shough. They now have to travel to West Virginia to open Big 12 play this week.
Just when Cincinnati fans were feeling good about the start of the Scott Satterfield era, they go out and lose the Victory Bell to their rivals. Miami (OH) had not been in possession of the Victory Bell since 2005 and hadn’t won in Cincinnati since Ben Roethlisberger was the quarterback (2003). It was a deflating way to go into Big 12 play, especially with the high-powered Sooner offense coming to town this week.
8. West Virginia
It is safe to say that West Virginia isn’t the worst team in the Big 12 this year, even though they were picked to finish the season there by Last Word. They showed some fight on the road against a very good Penn State team, and this past Saturday took down their biggest rival for the first time since 2011 (before last year, that was also the last time these teams met). If head coach Neal Brown continues to lean on their rushing game, that could be the single thing to get him off the hot seat. They will host Texas Tech this week, a team that the Mountaineers have not beaten in four straight games.
BYU had not played anyone of significance in the first two weeks of the season. But a road trip down to Arkansas quickly gave everyone a good idea of what this team is capable of. Turns out, the Cougars proved to be a team that can find a way to win close ball games. Falling behind 14-0 and getting outgained offensively 424-281 of offensive yards still did not stop BYU from winning 38-31 in a wild back-and-forth game with the Razorbacks. How BYU responds with a full Power five-level conference schedule will be the biggest question. They now have to take on Jalon Daniels and the explosive Jayhawk offense this week.
We will know very soon if Colorado is really “that” good. But it is clear that TCU is better than their week one performance against the Buffs. TCU does hold the only Big 12 victory to date, so they are sitting atop the conference standings, just not on the top of the week four Big 12 power rankings. The offense has not been an issue this season. The Horned Frogs have scored 42, 41, and 36 points in the first three weeks of the season. The defense will ultimately decide how high they can climb this season.
The Knights have passed all of their early season tests thus far as new Big 12 members. The biggest issue is the health of quarterback John Rhys Plumlee. When Plumlee went down with his leg injury against Boise State, it was reported that he was going to miss multiple weeks. The injury will not require surgery though. It is a shame for Big 12 fans and the Knights because they play their first conference game on the road against Kansas State this Saturday. UCF is also catching the Wildcats at a bad time now with them returning home after being upset on the road.
Jayhawk nation, we see you. Kansas is undefeated with Big 12 play beginning this week and they play a fun brand of football. This same start last season had the college football world in a frenzy. Now, in just his third season, Lance Leipold has already drastically changed the narrative. The fact that Kansas dominated Illinois and is undefeated seems like business as usual for anyone following the program. With BYU coming to town before the Texas game, can Kansas not overlook one of its new conference foes and remain undefeated before traveling to Austin?
3. Kansas State
Last Saturday’s game against Missouri started off in a way that made it appear there would be no stopping the Wildcats. The opening drive touchdown was a pass volleyball set by a Tigers defender that went through his hands and into the arms of wide receiver Phillip Brooks for Kansas State. But Missouri never blinked. Even with as bad game management at the end of the game as possible, Missouri trotted out the “Thicccc Kicker” for a 61-yard field goal attempt. Harrison Mevis absolutely drilled the game-winning kick as the Wildcats fell 30-27. This was not a bad loss for the defending Big 12 champs. But the results confirm real vulnerability out of Chris Klieman’s squad.
Stop us if this statement sounds familiar; Oklahoma looks really good three weeks into the season. They have scored a combined 167 points in three games while only yielding 28 to their inferior opponents. With a trip to Cincinnati and a home game against Iowa State in the next two weeks, the jury will still be out on just how good Oklahoma is. They could wind up 5-0 going into Red River. SMU was within three points of Oklahoma into the fourth quarter during their week two showdown. Oklahoma is far from invincible. But they are positioning themselves well to be undefeated against the team sitting atop the week four Big 12 power rankings.
Boy, howdy did that Texas letdown *almost* come quicker and harder than anyone would have thought. But it ultimately did not. The Longhorns pulled away late against a very physical Wyoming team by a score of 31-10. The game brought up a few concerns heading into Big 12 play next week. However, Texas has the best win of the season (so far) so it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone to see them at the top of the week four Big 12 power rankings. The Horns will find themselves in this spot until someone can take them down.
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