Big 12 Football power rankings: no defense for old men

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.

Remember when this was a thing in the Big 12? There may not be 12 great defenders total in the entire conference these days.

Remember when this was a thing in the Big 12? There may not be 12 great defenders total in the entire conference these days.

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.

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Big 12 Football power rankings: Bottoms up!

llbrewspage

If we have to celebrate bad football and the worst teams getting better, let’s go bottoms up with a great beer out of Weston Brewing Co. I love this beer!

This season is one long, painful reminder that with no teams in the Top 10 and only three ranked overall, there really isn’t anything great about Big 12 football in 2016. But, the bottom teams have shown signs of life the past few weeks, so there’s that.

Seriously, that’s what we are down to celebrating … in October.

1. Baylor Bears (5-0, 2-0) — Full disclosure, I hate putting Baylor here, but it feels dirty keeping the No. 11-ranked team anywhere besides on top when nobody else is playing that well. I also thought the off-the-field stuff would affect the Bears before now and result in a couple of losses. It hasn’t, however, so good for them.

2. Oklahoma Sooners (3-2, 2-0) — OU threw another log on the Charlie Strong fire, and Dede Westbrook set a school record with 232 receiving yards. After shattering their national aspirations, it looks like the Sooners are finally settling in … four weeks too late.

3. TCU Horned Frogs (4-2, 2-1) — The Frogs were lucky to beat Kansas. It took three missed field goals in the fourth quarter to do it, but Gary Patterson’s guys got the win. That’s the nicest thing I can say about that performance.

4. Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-2, 2-1) — The Cowboys are off this week, so they  can sit back and watch whatever dumpster fire is sure to happen around the Big 12. They can also bask in the fact that they have scored at least 20 points in 22 consecutive games — third in the nation behind Oregon and TCU.

5. West Virginia Mountaineers (4-0, 1-0) — There are only 11 FBS schools undefeated at this point, and the Mountaineers might be the most unimpressive among them. Oh, and their starting kicker, Josh Lambert, left the team this week, so there’s that.

6. Kansas State Wildcats (3-2, 1-1) — K-State’s offense looked pretty darn good last time out and did its part along with the defense and special teams units. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the performance came against Texas Tech, who outlawed defense somewhere about 15 years ago. Way more impressive, the ‘Cats defense held Tech to just 10 points in the second half — including a junk touchdown at the end following a bogus penalty. With the win, KSU became the third Big 12 team to reach 100 league wins since it began in 1996.

7. Texas Longhorns (2-3, 0-2) — Is Charlie gone yet? No? Okay. We’ll check in again next week for a new edition of “How long ’til he gone?”

8. Iowa State Cyclones (1-5, 0-3) — The Cyclones have scored more than 30 points per game in their last three games. All things considered, this team may be bad still, but at least it’s becoming the exciting kind of bad — which seems to work just fine in, say, Lubbock.

9. Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-2, 1-1) — Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Offense scores a bunch — Kliff is happy. Defense gives up more and team loses — Kliff daydreams of his next touchdown. Awful.

10. Kansas Jayhawks (1-4, 0-2) — At some point, this team is going to win a conference game, and I’ll even go as far as saying it could win two this year. KU has a couple of speedy playmakers on offense and special teams that could make a key play, swing momentum and outlast an opponent. TCU lucked out. Someone else won’t be as lucky.

Big 12 Football power rankings: Burnt Up

 

Oh, how the not so mighty have fallen. Bevo is headed to the slaughter house, and Bob Stoops magicked his way to a win that kept his own seat cool for the time being. Past that, the Big 12 last weekend was a T.S. Elliot special … “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” but another weekend of bad but somewhat exciting football. 

1. Nobody. Seriously, not one team in the Big 12 deserves to top these rankings. The most talented team in the conference is .500. There are several bouts of identity crises occurring (TCU, Baylor, K-State), and … no. Nobody deserves to be No. 1 because we don’t believe in entitlement around here.

2. Oklahoma Sooners (2-2, 1-0) — How the Sooners managed to overcome a horrendous start against TCU – down 21-7 after the first quarter – only to nearly lose anyways in a shootout is the stuff that makes coaches go bald. This team is so talented it can’t help but wind up winning 9 or 10 games per season, but it is doing so while shaving years from its fans’ lives. #becausewecan

3. TCU Horned Frogs (3-2, 1-1) — If there was any doubt that TCU’s defense is stout in memory only, last Saturday sealed the deal. After getting its early lead, the Frogs were run over by the Sooners in the second and third quarters to the tune of 42-3. Even worse, of OU’s six touchdowns in that stretch, only one drive was shorter than 53 yards, and only one took longer than 2:48. Overall, TCU is giving up 31.4 ppg, the second worst mark under Gary Patterson, trailing only his 2004 squad (33.9). #forgettingwhoyouare

4. Baylor Bears (5-0, 2-0) — If the Bears were a souped up hot rod the past couple of years, they are about to pay the price for redlining the engine past morality and good judgment. Off the field, things keep going south for a program that, by a growing number of increasingly damaging accounts, did everything it could to trade morals for victories. All of it makes this year’s wins feel really hollow, and moving ahead … the future looks bleak as Baylor is dead last in Big 12 recruiting currently with only two … TWO … commitments. #wheelsfallingoff

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-2, 1-1) — Thrashing Texas did a lot for Mike Gundy’s group in terms of getting some national run. We know this team can score points (41.2 ppg), and the defense seems to be serviceable. The Longhorns found out how dangerous ol’ Pistol Pete is in Stillwater this year. If he figures out how to be consistent on the road, look out. #comingtogether?

6. West Virginia Mountaineers (4-0, 1-0) — WVU looked as dead as the possum in a Mountaineer’s stew before it came from behind to beat K-State 17-16 at home. Credit goes to a gutty comeback against a good defense, but that won’t happen against teams that have any offense at all. Undefeated? Yes. Impressed by it? Not really. #donoteatpossumstew

7. Kansas State Wildcats (2-2, 0-1) — Since 1990, the Wildcats are 178-7 when leading at the half. Loss No. 7 was purely awful against West Virginia, where a 16-3 lead bled out and died in a 17-16 loss. The Big 12’s worst offense (109th of 125 nationally) again looked indecisive and mostly inept to such a level that blame goes all around, while one of the best defenses in the nation again goes unrewarded. But hey, Winston Dimel was held scoreless, so you know someone is probably unhappy and finally spurred to actually fix things … right Dana Dimel? #figureitout

8. Texas Longhorns (2-2, 0-1) — Egad, Charlie. Notre Dame seems so long ago. Rumors of your demise have been rampant, and all you have to do is get a win this weekend … wait, what? … you play Oklahoma? Aw man, if you thought the seat was hot this week, let’s see what the temperature is like after a third-straight loss. #overcookedsteak

9. Iowa State Cyclones (1-4, 0-2) — So. Damn. Close. So close to knocking off Baylor (and being everybody’s friend in the Big 12 this week). Maybe this team can stay focused on the positives that come with what was an unexpected and pretty remarkable effort until the end. And, though it won’t last, I don’t think, Cyclones fans can also sidle up to the fact that they are tied with Oklahoma State with the current No. 2 recruiting class in the Big 12, according to Rivals.com. #reddawn

10. Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-1, 1-0) — Here’s the thing with Texas Tech: It’s not even that much fun anymore to watch the Red Raiders play. They score points in bunches, but there’s no intrigue because you know they can’t stop anybody either (KU doesn’t count). It’s like playing EA Sports NCAA Football back in the day and finally getting too bored to care when your team racked up 60 points every simulation. This team will win a handful of games, but this iteration will maybe finish a game above .500 just because it gets every tough opponent at home in 2016. #dudebrohatesdefense

11. Kansas Jayhawks (1-3, 0-1) — The Jayhawks want to believe they are getting better, and maybe they are on a minuscule level. However, improving a play or two here or there isn’t nearly enough, and getting torched by a team’s backup QB wipes out all good vibes. Three ranked opponents await Kansas in the next five games before facing Iowa State. #noendinsight