Some major cracks in the rankings for the first time this season, thanks to substance abuse mostly. The most amazing piece to this list? You have to go to the very last team in order to get past those who are either ranked or receiving votes in the major polls. Yep, six weeks in, nine of the top 38 or 39 football teams in the nation — almost a quarter — call the Big 12 home.
1. West Virginia — It took a missed field goal and later an onside kick recovery to seal the win, but the first major hurdle to WVU’s Big 12 party crash is cleared. Geno Smith took big hits and survived. Stedman Bailey is adding zeroes to his future NFL checks. Something like 35 couches burned. There are still seven games left in the conference season, but the Mountaineers appear to be in much better shape than the local fire department.
“Several of our fire engines were pelted with beer bottles, beer cans, rocks. Even the fire chief’s car was pelted with debris. Several fire marshals had debris thrown at them.” — Morgantown Fire Department Captain Ken Tennant, following the Texas win.
2. Kansas State — Bill Snyder has made efficient sexy. The Wildcats once relied heavily on time of possession, and they probably will need to get back to it eventually. However, even as teams try to keep Collin Klein, John Hubert and Co. off the field, KSU is responding by averaging historic highs in terms of points per play and yards per play. Just ask Kansas. All of that said, Iowa State always plays K-State tough and has some swagger that goes with a Top 25 ranking — an intriguing match-up for sure.
“It’s definitely been a fight every time. We are gearing up for another one.” — K-State quarterback Collin Klein.
3. Oklahoma — The Sooners exorcised some demons against Texas Tech as OU bounced back from the K-State loss. Landry Jones was efficient with 259 yards passing and 2 TDs without an interception, while the defense picked off Seth Doege three times. So, in other words, OU looks ready for David Ash and the Longhorns in Dallas — a rivalry game that some think has gone soft.
“…some say that has changed. That the Sooners and Longhorns have gone soft. That they might as well play in tutus. That they spread out and wimp out and try to win playing flag football. Mack Brown has admitted as much…” — Barry Tramel, NewsOK.com
4. Texas — The Longhorns had the first real chance at setting the Big 12 race on its head, and nearly pulled it off in front of the largest crowd ever assembled at Darrell K. Royal (101, 851). Alas, a 41-yard field goal try late in the game went the way of losers, and the Longhorns now face OU in the battle not to fall to 1-2 in conference play. The defense has work to do in proving itself, and it would behoove Texas to do so considering the Longhorns have outscored opponents 56-3 off turnovers through five games.
”OU’s defense is very good, but in my opinion, I see a better defense in practice in (Alex) Okafor and (Jackson) Jeffcoat and (Kenny) Vaccaro.” — Texas backup running back Jeremy Hills.
5. Oklahoma State — After a week off to heal, the Cowboys get another bye but with the bonus of adding a win to the total. In other words, OSU is in Lawrence to take on Kansas, where attention this week seems to be on anything but actual football, especially after the Big 12 men’s basketball poll was released on Thursday.
“We can’t take any game off, especially this one. Kansas is a good team, and they’re capable of beating anybody any week” - OSU linebacker Caleb Lavey.
6. Baylor — Hey, Bears, it’s okay to come out from under your bed. Geno Smith is gone now. Time to get back to work and take care of business against a rudderless TCU that is hanging on to its season by a thread at this point. Nick Florence shined against the Mountaineers, and it’s not completely impossible that he could hit 2000 passing yards for the season in five games, needing 415 to do so.
“It’s still in my mouth. Every time I see a highlight of Geno Smith on ESPN it just makes me cringe.” — Baylor tackle Trevor Clemens-Valdez.
7. Texas Tech — The Red Raiders are 4-1, so I’ll say something nice about them this week since I think they still finish the year at 6-6. Seth Doege was held without a touchdown pass against the Sooners, something he should have no problem finding against West Virginia, who made Nick Florence look like an NFL All-Pro. There will be stats aplenty, but a win? Nah… WVU is proving it’ll let you score so much that you think you’re ahead, only to find out you’re still behind.
“Just knowing the quarterback they have, if anybody has the front-running lead for this championship, it will be them with all the experience and speed they’ve got.” - Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville
8. Iowa State — The Cyclones are tired of being the cute huge underdog that somehow beats a better team and makes it on to YouTube. As a Top 25 team at home, beat K-State this weekend and that designation will be gone. It remains to be seen if Jared Barnett’s insertion as starting quarterback can be the long-term answer for an offense that is ranked 91st nationally in total offense and 72nd in scoring. But, if he can iron out the offensive inconsistencies for Paul Rhoads, that dirt-under-fingernail defense suddenly gets that much tougher to beat.
“I don’t think we are as good as Kansas State and match up as well as I’d like, so we are just going to try to stick around and have that kind of game.” - Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads
9. TCU — They told Casey Pachall to go to rehab, and he said he’d go, go, go. Okay, enough of that nonsense. Pachall is gone, the running backs are hurt, and the defense (No. 9 nationally in total defense) is getting overshadowed by everything else. In a normal year, TCU would be as dangerous as I thought they would be. This ain’t normal, and the Horned Frogs might have a No. 15 ranking, but how long does that last with every team left on the schedule either ranked in the Top 15 or receiving votes? Hang on, Horned Frogs.
“We’ve played these offenses before. There’s going to be offenses just like Baylor the rest of the way.” — TCU head coach Gary Patterson.
10. Kansas — Charlie Weis has spent most of his time this week answering questions about the Kansas City Chiefs and Matt Cassel, along with his role or non-role in a department staffer telling the student newspaper to watch its questions. If he gets around to it, the Oklahoma State Cowboys are in town on Saturday. If I thought it would make a difference, I’d tweet him a reminder.
“I’m cognizant that the second half has been our biggest issue. You don’t think I’m thinking about that, too? I’m thinking, ‘What can I do?’ And, trust me, it’ll be addressed here in the next 24 hours, because I’d rather go down swinging than not take a swing. I’m not taking a called third strike, I promise you.” — KU head coach Charlie Weis.