Big 12 Football Power Rankings – Week 4

By Brendan Dzwierzynski | @BrendanDzw on Twitter

Big 12 games have finally started and there were a handful of fun, exciting matchups in Week 4. Notably, Texas and Oklahoma State were involved in a slugfest, while West Virginia and Kansas matched up in a surprisingly entertaining conference opener.

The top of the power rankings this week remain unchanged for obvious reasons, but we have another shakeup among the league’s middle class.

1.     Oklahoma (LW: 1) Oklahoma didn’t play in Week 4, but even if it had it probably would have crushed its opponent. The Sooners are once again leading all FBS teams in yards per play at a preposterous 10.3, which is a full yard more than second place (Iowa State). The only question about Oklahoma remains whether or not its defense can hold up against the high-powered offenses in the Big 12, but early returns for defensive coordinator Alex Grinch’s unit have been positive.


2.     Texas (LW: 2) Winning ugly is still winning. Texas can hang its hat on that this week, at least, after holding off Oklahoma State at home. The stats looked great for the Longhorns’ top playmakers (Sam Ehlinger, Devin Duvernay and Keaontay Ingram, specifically), but it was anything but an easy win on Saturday for UT. Three turnovers wasn’t helpful, among other things. And in fairness, OSU is a quality opponent. This was a classic “survive and advance” kind of game for the Longhorns heading into an off week.


3.     Kansas State (LW: 5) Kansas State is jumping in the rankings this week despite not playing. That seems wrong on principle, but so far there are almost exclusively positive things to ay about Chris Klieman’s Wildcats. As several teams throughout the Big 12 have had weaknesses exposed to some degree in the last couple of weeks, that’s not necessarily the case for K-State. We’ll see if that holds up next week against Oklahoma State.


4.     Oklahoma State (LW: 3) Tough-luck drop in the rankings for the Pokes this week. They hung tough with Texas, but in the end it wasn’t quite enough. It was a tough first Big 12 road start for quarterback Spencer Sanders, who gave the ball away twice without throwing for a touchdown. All-world running back Chuba Hubbard, the reigning Big 12 offensive player of the week, racked up a ton of yards this week but on just 3.3 yards per carry. The opponent was hard a hard matchup, the environment was a difficult one, but losing is losing.


5.     Iowa State (LW: 7) We’ve been waiting for Iowa State to give us a reason to keep thinking they’re one of the better teams in the Big 12. Week 1 featured a close win, Week 3 featured a close loss that ended in disastrous fashion. Then in Week 4 the Cyclones massacred the UL-Monroe Warhawks. Regardless of who you’re playing, 72 points is a ton. Quarterback Brock Purdy finally put together a stellar performance, too, reminding us why Pro Football Focus named him a top-10 quarterback in the nation entering the year.


6.     Baylor (LW: 6) It’s hard to be less inspired by a win than by a team that was averaging nearly 60 points per game scoring just 21 and winning by a mere eight over Rice. That’s not a good team Baylor just fended off. Not only did the Bears only score 21 points, but none came in the second half. Beating up on terrible FBS teams and bad FCS teams is great and all, but edging out a side dish isn’t a particularly encouraging victory, even on the road. Next week’s game against Iowa State will probably tell us a lot about this Baylor team.


7.     TCU (LW: 4) SMU is a better program than it’s been in recent memory, but that doesn’t stop this weekend’s loss to the Mustangs from being a bad one for TCU. One week after creaming Purdue at home the Horned Frogs came back home and couldn’t hang on to the ball against a rival. The TCU offense needs to get right, specifically through the air. Quarterback Max Duggan’s stat line looked decent enough (188 yards, three touchdowns) in the loss, but completing just 50% of your passes and getting wide receiver Jalen Reagor, one of the best receivers in the nation, just two catches for two yards is unacceptable.


8.     Texas Tech (LW: 8) Texas Tech was yet another Big 12 team with a bye this week, but there’s a big enough gap between the rest of the middle of the pack and the Red Raiders to keep them in eighth. Coach Matt Wells and his team needed a week off though, because they have to play Oklahoma on the road in Week 5.


9.     West Virginia (LW: 9) Any win is a good thing, and any road win is a really good thing. But a win in which you get largely outplayed on the road against a team with a lot of momentum is a great takeaway for the Mountaineers. Kansas is far from a terrifying program to play, but this is an inconsistent and not highly thought of WVU team, so getting off to a 1-0 start in Big 12 play is worth praise. If West Virginia can continue to develop its running game there will be a lot less pressure on quarterback Austin Kendall.


10.  Kansas (LW: 10) After losing to West Virginia on Saturday quarterback Carter Stanley said he’s not into moral victories. That’s a good thing and a good mindset to have, but you can feel that way and also acknowledge that KU is a different, better program now than in the recent past. As Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star outlined after the game, there are plenty of reasons to believe KU should have won this weekend. There’s no good in spinning a loss into something that it’s not, but it’s still fair to say this team looked different, in a good way. Not different enough to get out of the basement, though.

For past editions of the power rankings, click here.