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Big 12 power rankings: West Virginia, Texas top the conference entering Week 4

by Jason Kersey Published: September 21, 2012
West Virginia and quarterback Geno Smith will try to get back on track Saturday against Oklahoma. AP PHOTO
West Virginia and quarterback Geno Smith will try to get back on track Saturday against Oklahoma. AP PHOTO
NORMAN — Wednesday afternoon, I joined former Sooners Dusty Dvoracek and Teddy Lehman on their KREF-AM 1400 radio show, “The Rush,” to talk OU-Kansas State, and was asked to rank the top five teams in the Big 12.

That inspired me to go ahead and rank the whole conference. I’ll try to update these each Friday.

BIG 12 POWER RANKINGS

1. West Virginia (2-0): The Mountaineers have just beaten Marshall and James Madison, but have been impressive in doing so. There are still questions about their defense that won’t be answered until conference play, but I thought they were the Big 12′s best team before Week 1 and they’ve done nothing to lose that perch.

2. Texas (3-0): Say what you will about Ole Miss, but it’s still impressive to me that the Longhorns went to an SEC home stadium and left that convincing a winner. David Ash is really playing well right now, and the Texas defense is strong. At this point in the season, I think you’ve got to base rankings on anything you can use to compare teams, and Ole Miss looked better in its win over UTEP than did Oklahoma.

3. Oklahoma (2-0): Oklahoma was underwhelming in the season opener, and it’s hard to really take much away from the Florida A&M rout. Before it can be considered the Big 12′s best team — much less a national title contender — OU has got to show that its thin offensive and defensive fronts can be dominant against tough competition. The Sooners can begin to answer those and other questions with the tough upcoming three-game stretch, which begins Saturday against K-State. After a second bye in three weeks, OU travels to Texas Tech, where it hasn’t won since 2003, then heads to the Cotton Bowl for the Red River game.

4. Kansas State (3-0): The Wildcats looked very strong in the win over Miami, but then struggled to keep North Texas’ offense off the field. A win Saturday in Norman isn’t completely out of the question, but will be extremely tough considering OU’s typical dominance of ranked teams on Owen Field.

5. Iowa State (3-0): I had Baylor at No. 5 when asked for these rankings on the radio, but after a couple days to think about it, I’ve adjusted. The Cyclones are off this week after a strong 3-0 start that included wins over favored teams Tulsa and Iowa.

6. TCU (2-0): Horned Frogs earned their first Big 12 win last week at Kansas, but it wasn’t particularly impressive. Once you get past the top four in the Big 12, I think there’s a dropoff and not much separates the next several teams at this point.

7. Baylor (2-0): Baylor trailed by 10 points at halftime to Sam Houston State last week, but surged in the second half for a 48-23 win. I like quarterback Nick Florence and think the Bears might surprise some people in the post-Griffin era. We’ll find out a lot about Baylor tonight when it plays at Louisiana-Monroe.

8. Oklahoma State (2-1): I figured OSU would go to Arizona and win easily, and was stunned when the Cowboys didn’t. I still think there’s a lot of potential on this team, though, and really can’t believe I’m ranking them this low. That speaks to the strength of the Big 12. It’ll be interesting to see how well J.W. Walsh plays against Texas next week, but I just don’t see OSU winning. In fairness to Walsh, though, I think the Longhorns would win even if Wes Lunt was healthy.

9. Texas Tech (3-0): I like Seth Doege and the Tech offense — I think — but who really knows? The Red Raiders, with virtually the same team that shocked Oklahoma at home and then couldn’t muster another win, haven’t been tested at all through three games. Tech is off this week and can begin to prove its worth next week at Iowa State, before returning home to face the Sooners, who haven’t won in Lubbock since 2003.

10. Kansas (1-2): First-year coach Charlie Weis and the Jayhawks have a long, long way to go in a very tough conference. After back-to-back home losses to Rice and TCU, Kansas is an underdog at Northern Illinois this weekend and then heads to Manhattan for a date with Bill Snyder’s Wildcats.

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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