Big 12 power rankings: TCU, West Virginia vie for contender status

Now that we are reaching the midpoint of the 2017 season, the Big 12’s pecking order is rounding into shape.

With four key teams off last week, the power rankings did not shift dramatically. In fact, several teams – such as Texas Tech – cemented their spots. However, West Virginia has an opportunity to move up this weekend against No. 8 TCU.

Here’s where teams in the Big 12 stand before Week 6:

1. Oklahoma Sooners (previous: No. 1)

Last week: Bye

This week: vs. Iowa State

The Sooners should be rejuvenated after a much-needed bye week. Oklahoma struggled at times against Baylor, but freshman running back Trey Sermon is developing into a go-to back. The secondary should get some support, as safeties Will Johnson and Robert Barnes will be back for the game.

2. TCU Horned Frogs (previous: No. 2)

Last week: Bye

This week: vs. No. 23 West Virginia

TCU passed its first test of the 2017 season after beating No. 6 Oklahoma State on the road. Gary Patterson re-asserted himself as one of the nation’s best coaches with a fantastic defensive game plan. Now, the Horned Frogs are rewarded with a streaking West Virginia team. Beat them, and it’s mostly smooth sailing until Oklahoma on Nov. 11.

3. Oklahoma State Cowboys (previous: No. 3)

Last week: Beat Texas Tech 41-34

This week: Bye

After losing offensive linemen each of the past two weeks, Oklahoma State’s bye week comes at the perfect time. The dominant offense is starting to show cracks as it struggles to block consistently against better competition. Going on the road and beating Texas Tech is an underrated accomplishment, but not good enough to overtake either of the two elite teams ahead.

4. Texas Tech Red Raiders (previous: No. 4)

Last week: Lost to No. 15 Oklahoma State 41-34

This week: at Kansas

Texas Tech showed a tremendous amount of fight against one of the Big 12’s best teams. Ultimately, the Red Raiders fell short. However, Tech travels to Kansas this weekend. Before the season, we projected Texas Tech to miss a bowl. This season’s performance is impressive and has changed the narrative in Lubbock.

5. West Virginia Mountaineers (previous: No. 5)

Last week: Bye

This week: at No. 8 TCU

West Virginia will declare itself as either a Big 12 title contender or marginal bowl team Saturday. Through four games, it’s hard to read the Mountaineers. The offense has looked electric, scoring at least 56 over each of its last three games. However, the rush defense was horrific against Kansas. The performance against TCU will prove whether that was a fluke or long-term concern.

6. Kansas State Wildcats (previous: No. 6)

Last week: Beat Baylor 33-20

This week: at Texas

Kansas State eventually pulled away from Baylor, but showed cracks against the Bears. Jesse Ertz didn’t have his best day, but his wide receivers couldn’t stop dropping easy passes. Next, the Wildcats travel to Austin to play against one of the best defenses in the conference. It will be a great measuring stick.

7. Texas Longhorns (previous: No. 7)

Last week: Beat Iowa State 17-7

This week: vs. Kansas State

The good news? Texas has a defense. The Longhorns held Iowa State to 256 total yards and 10 rushing yards. Unfortunately, the offense struggles to move the ball, especially on the ground. The Longhorns averaged 2.7 yards per carry against Kansas State. That’s not a great sign, considering the Wildcats have an excellent run defense.

8. Iowa State Cyclones (previous: No. 8)

Last week: Lost 17-7 to Texas

This week: at No. 3 Oklahoma

Jacob Park had 347 yards and 4 touchdowns against a good Iowa defense. He later had 246 yards and 3 interceptions against a good Texas defense. It’s hard to know which performance is more representative. His performance against Oklahoma this Saturday will help answer those questions.

9. Kansas Jayhawks (previous: No. 9)

Last week: Lost to West Virginia 56-34

This week: Bye

Kansas lost another conference game, but the Jayhawks might have found a star at running back. Khalil Herbert rushed for 291 yards against West Virginia on more than 8 yards per carry. If Kansas can run the ball consistently, it changes how effective the offense can be.

10. Baylor Bears (previous: No. 10)

Last week: Lost 33-20 to Kansas State

This week: Bye

The locker room might be falling apart in Waco after a pair of upperclassmen were dismissed from the team. Baylor’s bye could not have come at a better time. The Bears have shown improvement every week this season, but hasn’t won. Keeping this team motivated will be on coach Matt Rhule’s shoulders.

The post Big 12 power rankings: TCU, West Virginia vie for contender status appeared first on Diehards.

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