Is the Big 12 heading for commissioner Brett Yormark’s “worst nightmare?” Is the commissioner going to get Red River runback in the Big 12 championship game before they shuffle to the SEC? Or will fans get a surprise Sunflower Showdown sequel? Both options are on the table with all teams having now completed their first game in Big 12 play. It does appear that Texas is sitting in a tier of its own, but they still have plenty of tough challenges ahead of them. So while we know Texas will hold down the top spot of the week five Big 12 power rankings, there was plenty of shuffling of the deck. Where did all the teams land?
Week Five Big 12 Power Rankings
Yes, head coach Dave Aranda is playing without his starting quarterback. But a coach who has a very well-earned reputation as a defensive savant does not have a defense that shows a lot of resistance to opposing offenses. And now, Baylor has to travel to the UCF and is going to have a juiced-up crowd for their first-ever Big 12 game. There was no real talk about Aranda being on the hot seat in the preseason. But as the season changes to fall, it’s not just his car seat warmer that has had the heat turned on.
13. Texas Tech
As of the week five Big 12 power rankings publication, the “BU-TT Bowl” between Baylor and Texas Tech could very well be just that. The Red Raiders played in a slop fest against West Virginia and also likely lost their starting quarterback Tyler Shough for the season. Even when Shough went down, this team still could not make winning plays when it mattered. The preseason ceiling for this team has been shattered. Will they sink even lower than what was once considered the floor for the 2023 season?
12. Oklahoma State
Mike Gundy finally stuck with one quarterback for a game. It still did not matter. Cowboys quarterback Alan Bowman played okay, but the two interceptions were critical in a 34-27 loss to Iowa State in Ames on Saturday. It appears the ceiling for this offense is exactly 27 points as three of the four games Oklahoma State has played finished with that many points scored by the Pokes. With the lack of an explosive offense and a defense that just allowed Iowa State to score more points today than it had in its last two games combined (including a game against a MAC opponent), there doesn’t seem to be any reason for optimism.
The Dana Holgersen roller coaster ride continues as his Cougars handled a feisty Sam Houston State team by the score of 38-7. It still was just a win over a now 0-3 team making its FBS season debut though. Houston does not yet have a result to date on their schedule to suggest that this is a sure-fire bowl team. This team travels to Lubbock next week and former Red Raider quarterback Donovan Smith would love nothing more than to send his former team on bowl-season life support with an upset win (Texas Tech is currently a 9-point favorite in the desert).
10. Iowa State
Not only did Iowa State fans get a good win at home, but it was Matt Campbell’s offensive unit the led the way. Which was made only sweater Saturday night as the watched their in-state rivals turn in an absolutely abysmal offensive performance in prime time. The task does not get easier this week though. Iowa State travels to Norman where they have only won one time since 1991 (but it did come in 2017). However, Iowa State has played Oklahoma tough in the last eight matchups as none of them had a winning margin of greater than 14 points.
That win over Pittsburg feels like a lifetime ago. This team is trending in the wrong direction after looking dysfunctional offensively in the last two weeks. It has been semi-impressive how bad the Bearcats have been once they get the ball deep into their opponents’ territory. This week will provide them a chance to possibly correct those offensive woes. They travel to Provo to take on a BYU defense that has allowed 31 points in their last two games.
For three quarters, the Knights looked like a team that Last Word boldly predicted to finish near the top of the Big 12 standings. However, they seemingly ran out of steam playing a tough Kansas State team in Manhattan. The effort is even more commendable since it came with a backup quarterback. Gus Malzahn won’t ever hang his hat on moral victories, but there were plenty of bright spots even in a loss for his team. UCF has a great opportunity to secure its first Big 12 victory with a very wounded Baylor team coming to the Bounce House on Saturday.
The highest-ranked rookie team of the week five Big 12 power rankings lost their first game this weekend in a fun game with the Kansas Jayhawks. BYU played well against a team with a very potent offense. However, it was Kansas getting two defensive touchdowns that were the deciding factor in this one. Quarterback Kedon Slovis has been a good addition to this team via the transfer portal. The defense needs a little work, but so far BYU is having a successful start to the season.
There won’t be any frogs cooked up in the Iron Skillet for another year as TCU won their rivalry game against SMU. Even though the teams had very even statistical numbers, TCU felt in control of the game from start to finish. TCU has largely been forgotten about after getting upset by Colorado in week one, but they have just gotten better ever since. As of now, they do not have a ranked opponent on their schedule until November 11th when they host Texas. Could TCU make a run back to the top of the conference?
5. West Virginia
TCU’s going to be tested by a tough West Virginia team, who just won its third consecutive game for the first time in the Neal Brown era. This is a physical team that wants to grind down its opponents. How well they played against Penn State appears to not be a fluke. It isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing brand of football, but it is working in Morgantown. If they were to win this week in Fort Worth, Brown’s coach of the year campaign would officially be off and running.
It is W-I-L-D that Kansas being 4-0 has just moved into the “ho-hum” category. In 2021, Kansas went 2-10, which was the 12th consecutive season in which the Jayhawks won no more than three football games. Now, just two years later, no one is batting an eye at them being 4-0. It just speaks to the remarkable job that Lance Leipold has done in Lawrence. Quarterback Jalon Daniels is one of the best playmakers in the Big 12. If this team wants to make the next jump, the defense will need to continue to improve.
3. Kansas State
Kansas State rushed for more passing yards in a football game; what a shocker. It still is an impressive feat because the Wildcats still threw for 255 yards in a high-scoring win over UCF. The defending Big 12 champs roll into their bye week with a 3-1 start to the season. But the bye does come at a good time as quarterback Will Howard was a game-time decision going into the UCF game. With a few other key contributors already banged up, the Wildcats will happily take an early season bye week to get healthy.
There is something just off about Oklahoma. Yes, they are 4-0. Yes, the defense is better. It’s not a great defense, but it is pretty than the 2022 version. However, against the two best teams on their early schedule (SMU and Cincinnati), they have not been impressive. The Sooners, on paper, have significantly more talent than the Ponies and the Bearcats. And yet, in both of those games Oklahoma only held a 11-point lead going into the fourth quarter of each of these games. It will be interesting to see how they handle a team that they have struggled with lately in Iowa State this week. Again, the Sooners have significantly more on-paper talent than the Cyclones, but will they play “down” to the competition again?
Steve Sarkisian left Waco so sweat-free in their 38-6 win that he probably didn’t even need to shower. It was a business-like performance for the Longhorns that is what great teams do against lesser opponents, something that could not always have been said about Texas in recent years. The defense is going to be tested this week with the Jayhawk offense coming to Austin this week. If the Longhorns are at all looking ahead to Red River, the Jayhawks will capitalize. But another commanding performance at home would essentially leave Texas one test standing between them and a Big 12 title birth.