I love the Big 12 Conference. It’s in my sports fan DNA having grown up in Kansas. So, lovingly, I say this to the Big 12: Y’all terrible.
The current version of this conference is a far cry from the days of the 12th Man, Lynch Mob, Blackshirts and many other fearsome defenses that once helped form the respect the nation had for Big 12 football.
Granted, Baylor and West Virginia are putting up some decent defensive statistics in 2016, and K-State is solid enough much of the time, but really, there is no strong defense in this league anymore. And, there is no respect – based on the FOX Sports and ESPN talking heads already saying an undefeated Big 12 champion won’t make the College Football Playoff over one-loss or even two-loss teams from better conferences.
That’s incredible. And, as a Big 12 loyalist, it stinks. Anyways, the rankings …
1. Baylor Bears (6-0, 3-0) — Someone has to be at the top, and the Bears will likely be here until they play West Virginia at the end of the regular season. It’s hard to be excited for anything Baylor does, though, because everyone knows the end of good football is on the horizon.
2. West Virginia Mountaineers (6-0, 3-0) — Okay, fine. West Virginia is better than I thought a few weeks ago. I still feel like this team’s record is better than the actual team, but the schedule is set up for this team to make a big run with home games against both Oklahoma and Baylor should it first survive its roadie against OSU.
3. Oklahoma Sooners (5-2, 4-0) — The Sooners once were the class of the league for all the right reasons. They set the standard both in conference and nationally. Now, they’re as much of the league’s defensive problem as anyone. Winning a high-scoring game against Texas Tech isn’t unacceptable, but having to score 66 points in order to do so is.
4. Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-2, 3-1) — The Cowboys toyed with KU until the second half when the offense kicked into gear and scored on six of seven drives (not including running out the clock at the end). This team is a great dark horse pick, especially if it can knock off West Virginia this weekend in Stillwater.
5. TCU Horned Frogs (4-3, 2-2) — There really isn’t that much exciting about the Horned Frogs at this point. Both the offensive and defensive units rank in the middle of the majority of Big 12 statistical categories, and those numbers don’t lie. There’s no thrill factor with a team that’s kinda good at most things and not really good at any of them.
6. Kansas State Wildcats (4-3, 2-2) — K-State beat Texas in Manhattan. Again. The defense looked as if it has regained its footing after getting gashed by Texas Tech and Oklahoma, but the passing offense is still the worst in the conference any way you want to examine the body. If you’re a quarterback who can throw first and also run pretty well, send your tape to Manhattan. There is a group of wide receivers who would love to recruit you.
7. Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-4, 1-3) — Points. Offense. Records. Who cares? The head coach is 22-23 in the middle of his fourth year and showing no real momentum. As for standards: the coach in Austin has the same record in 2016 as the coach in Lubbock. One is for sure about to get canned. The other is just Dude Bro’ing along.
8. Texas Longhorns (3-4, 1-3) — Charlie Strong won’t be remembered for long after he’s gone… well, maybe he will, actually. He was the one who came in and decided the country club mentality set by Mack Brown and company needed adjustment. The result as Strong Year 3 winds down: the Longhorns are probably going to finish under .500 for the third straight year. That’s something the Longhorns program hasn’t done since four straight losing years from 1935-38 (9-26 over that stretch).
9. Iowa State Cyclones (1-6, 0-4) — This is the part of the year where teams with little success really start to wear down. It’ll be something to pay attention to: How does this Cyclones bunch finish up the back half of 2016? It’s especially interesting to watch since ISU gets four of its final five games in Ames. That may be enough to keep the players motivated and maybe even snag a win or two.
10. Kansas Jayhawks (1-6, 0-4) — David Beaty flipped the quarterback coin again last week as he played Montell Cozart instead of Ryan Willis, who had become a turnover machine the past few games. Cozart wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t great either, throwing two picks in the game and being mostly ineffective in the second half against OSU, even as Ke’aun Kinner turned in 145 rushing yards. Frankly, Beaty just doesn’t have a great option at QB, but such is the life of the worst teams in FBS football.