1. West Virginia
The West Virginia offense is among the best in the Big 12, but its defense could be vulnerable. It gave up 545 yards to Marshall, with over 400 yards coming through the air. The Mountaineers won’t likely get a real test until they host Baylor in late September. The Bears could really pressure the West Virginia pass defense.
The Sooners are off this week, so they get extra time to prepare for a surging Kansas State team that just got done pounding Miami. Oklahoma will have to tighten up its run defense before the Wildcats head down to Norman, or else it will find itself falling in the rankings. Speaking of Wildcats...
3. Kansas State
Kansas State is averaging over 300 yards a game on the ground and limited Miami to just 40 last week. The Wildcats get to practice a little more against North Texas this week before a trip to Norman will get the conference title race started with a bang.
The Longhorns’ defense decided to tackle from the gun against New Mexico, and as a result, didn’t give a up an inexplicable 80-yard touchdown. Progress. Texas is still developing and still trying to prove that it is “back.” Whether or not it actually is all rides on the arm of David Ash, who needs to figure out how to keep the ball in front of the receiver, and not behind them.
The Horned Frogs officially began their first season in the Big 12 last week against Grambling State. Now they will play their first conference game on the road against Kansas. The Jayhawks should at least provide a sterner test than Grambling State did, who could only muster 70 yards of offense against TCU.
6. Texas Tech
The big news for the Red Raiders: they are in the top 50 in rushing so far this season. Tuberville is starting to make an impact on the ground as he slowly breaks away from the Mike Leach system. Texas Tech will host a New Mexico team that has already played Texas, so we could get a better idea of the comparison of the two teams after this weekend.
Baylor will return to the field to take on Sam Houston State in what could be another bloodbath. Baylor’s offense hasn’t quite dropped off the face of the earth with all the departures, buts primary issue is still defense. If it can’t find a way to stop anyone, then it’ll be in a shootout each week. So all of the Bears’ games could be very exciting this season.
8. Oklahoma State
After getting all hyped up after 84-0, the Cowboys’ stock fell back down to earth after they got ran out of Tucson with their tails between their legs. Freshman quarterback Wes Lunt still threw for 436 yards and four touchdowns, but he also threw the ball to Arizona three times. Meanwhile, OSU’s defense could not stop Arizona enough, producing zero takeaways. This team led the conference last season in turnover ratio, which may have masked a shaky defense.
9. Iowa State
Iowa State is 2-0, but in a deep Big 12, the Cyclones are still stuck near the bottom of the rankings. Iowa State got its second win in Iowa City this decade and has positioned itself to have a nice season with another shot at a bowl. Fortunately for the Cyclones, most of its difficult conference games are in Ames, with Texas and TCU as the only ranked road games.
The Jayhawks join the Cowboys as the only two teams in the conference with a “1” in the loss column. After starting the season right with a win over South Dakota State, Kansas was upset at home by Rice thanks to a field goal as time expired. The schedule gets a lot harder with TCU coming to Lawrence before consecutive road trips to Northern Illinois and Kansas State.