Big 12 Football power rankings – A WTF weekend

It feels too early in the year to have to have this talk, Big 12, but seriously, what in the ever-loving hell was that collective performance on Saturday?big_12_conference_logo-svg

Central Michigan (Mid-American), Ohio (Mid-American), Arkansas (SEC), Arizona State (Pac-12), and Iowa (Big 10) all proved better than their Big 12 opponents, and Youngstown State (Missouri Valley) was on the verge of doing the same. Overall the Big 12 went a putrid 4-5 in non-conference contests.

Aside from the top Big 12 teams, it was a deplorable showing, but it won’t stop us from ranking the conference this week and trying to say nice things — even if we feel as dirty as Elisabeth Schu in Leaving Las Vegas.

1. Texas (2-0) — Shane Buechele completed 71.7 percent of his passes through two games, and the Longhorns showed no letdown a week after knocking off Notre Dame. UTEP was shorthanded, but it wouldn’t have mattered even with a Miners full deck.

2. Oklahoma (1-1) — So begins the long, 11-step road to recovery. OU led Louisiana Monroe 42-0 at halftime and coasted the rest of the way. One win down, 10 more to go for a group that wants to believe it belongs in the College Football Playoff.

3. Baylor (2-0) — The final score didn’t look all that out of whack, but if you paid attention, the Bears struggled pretty hard with SMU’s defense. BU quarterback Seth Russell said SMU provided some looks that the Bears hadn’t seen before. Gotta believe Big 12 defensive coordinators are scrambling to secure that film, even more than normal.

4. TCU (1-1) — The Horned Frogs have given up 82 points in two games. They were getting shut out at halftime against Arkansas before mounting a big, but short, fourth-quarter comeback. Two weeks does not a season make, but things feel a little too unsettled for comfort right now in Fort Worth.

5. Kansas State (0-1) — Everybody else in the Big 12 played games this weekend. Bill Snyder Family Stadium played host to a concert. People showing up to Bill Snyder Family Stadium in September for something other than football? Some things aren’t wrong, but it doesn’t mean they feel right.

6. West Virginia (2-0) — Slow start, but the Mountaineers were much stronger in the second half against a game Youngstown St. In any other week, WVU probably doesn’t move up a spot in the rankings based on that performance, and that takes us to the next team on the list …

7. Oklahoma State (1-1) — Did OSU get screwed? Yes. Should they never have been in that position to begin with? Taking on an inferior opponent in Stillwater? Yes. Bad form, Mike Gundy’s guys. Real bad.

8. Texas Tech (1-1) — It’s flat amazing how predictable Texas Tech has become in terms of fun offense and zero regard for defense. And, like so many years before, that combination will mean another season of the “L” standing for Loss in Lubbock.

9. Iowa State (0-2) — Matt Campbell already has indecision at quarterback — just two games in. That’s not the hard part, Coach Campbell; it’s the constant heartburn and eventual apathy in Ames that become the real doozies.

10. Kansas (1-1) — On a positive note, the Jayhawks defense was better. The only thing about that is the improvement came after Ohio racked up the majority of its 329 rushing yards in the first half. On offense, dreadful was the word. KU had 26 rushing yards on 15 carries, to go along with 0-11 combined on third  (0-9) and fourth (0-2) downs.

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Big 12 Football power rankings – Looking Strong

It’s time to do one of my favorite things and start making weekly sense (as much as possible, anyways) of the Big 12 Conference’s football programs. If you’ve never followed my rankings, I try my best to leverage week-to-week performance in tandem with overall expectation. Rankings that purely go week-to-week drive me nuts, and polls that attempt to shrug off a poor performance do the same.

So, away we go …

1. Texas (1-0) — The only reason the Longhorns top thiCharlie Strongs week’s ranks? Oklahoma lost. Past that, Texas beat a ranked, established Notre Dame in exciting, believable fashion. Charlie Strong has been building talent for the past couple of years after purging attitudes. It appears Burnt Orange Nation may finally have something legitimate to cheer for past October. Scary.

2. Oklahoma (0-1) — Well … at least OU fans didn’t have to wait until midseason for their Sooners to inexplicably faceplant. Nope, this year, those fans can now pray the worst is over and Bob Stoops can motivate his guys to win the next 11, which is doable provided OU can emerge from its usual mental quagmire.

3. TCU (1-0) — It was only South Dakota St., but Hill looked ready to lead the Horned Frogs to something great this season. Does it stick?

4. Baylor (1-0) — We really won’t get a good feel for the Bears until late September, but it’s hard to imagine the potentially program-wrecking off-season won’t have some immediate effects.

5. Kansas State (0-1) — The Wildcats played like a Top 20 team against Stanford — especially on defense. Keep up that kind of effort, and K-State could make some noise in the top half of the Big 12 before things are said and done.

6. Oklahoma State (1-0) — OSU is another program we won’t really know until conference play opens. Until then, enjoy the sweet, fattening diet of cupcakes.

7. West Virginia (1-0) — I know WVU received votes this week, but I can’t help it … beating a sinking Missouri program by 15 in Morgantown just ins’t very inspiring compared to other first-week performances. It leaves something to prove for me. Guess we’ll see.

8. Texas Tech (1-0) — Safe to say, if this was basketball, Tech wouldn’t have scored 69 against Stephen F. Austin. But, it was all guns up all the time last Saturday against an inferior opponent. Congrats, or something.

9. Iowa State (0-1) — 13 freshmen took the field for the Cyclones, including six true frosh. It’s going to be a long season (again) in Ames for the new staff, but maybe it leads to something good down the road.

10. Kansas (1-0)I watched this one in person. Rhode Island was so terrible that many KU fans got bored and left early — missing the team’s first win in almost two years. It was like watching a nerdy kid smack an armless mannequin in the faceless face with a pillow and celebrating it as a win. But hey, at least KU’s head coach cried.

KU football: When even a win didn’t matter

The Memorial Stadium game clock reported just under 11 minutes left in the first quarter as I began hopping two cement stairs at a time.

I was on my way to the west side of the stadium, headed to pick up a will call ticket and take my seat, where I would spend the next three hours witnessing the Kansas Jayhawks earn their first football win since Nov. 8, 2014.

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A timestamp marking the first KU Football win since Nov. 8, 2014.

Favored by nearly four touchdowns over Rhode Island, KU didn’t disappoint as it racked up a 55-6 victory against a downtrodden Rams program allergic to size, speed, scheme, and inspiration. Such dominance later brought tears to KU’s second-year head coach David Beaty.

And, that’s not even the weirdest part.

Just after the game ended, before Beaty’s press conference, tens of hyped students, who had not yet left in search of ongoing neighborhood house parties,  stormed a small section of the field. Once there, they barely had time to congratulate everyone in the group by name before the public address announcer had firmly tucked in his shirt, hiked his pants, and scolded, “This is a new era in Kansas football, an era in which you should EXPECT to win.”

We heard the message while walking out of the stadium – still able to see the field, but just far enough away that you could hear the disbelief and collective eye-roll from fans who didn’t see a problem with kids who were capable of little more than bending a few blades of turf.

This all served as the cap to an evening I spent witnessing other fans around me drowsily check the field before diving back into their smartphone browsing. That’s not to mention the general lack of interest in the concert-level music of today blasting throughout the stadium during timeouts — as if to say “See? Look! We’re fun! It’s FUN to be here! Are you not ENTERTAINED!?”

The answer to that was apparently not, as fans filtered away from a game that served less purpose than a KU intra-squad scrimmage would have. Even for a team that went 0-12 in 2015, it was too easy, this win, and fans felt it.

Still, while KU is on point at any given moment when it comes to basketball, Saturday’s events combined left me with a sense of nobody really knew how to handle a win, or even handle football for that matter. The music was a hedge bet toward needing to create some artificial fan experience outside of enjoying the football in front of them. Those who wanted to celebrate the first home win in nearly two years were told to stop. A coach said the right things regarding expecting to win but in the same breaths showed stress cracks caused by the immense weight of changing such a culture.

It was something to behold, and will be something to watch if and when a win happens again … whether in this season’s life or the next.