Big 12 Power Rankings: Breaking Down the Conference After Week 4

Lisa Horne@LisaHornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterSeptember 25, 2012

Big 12 Power Rankings: Breaking Down the Conference After Week 4

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    The Big 12 is proving that last year's sensational season wasn't a fluke. This conference is deep.

    Real deep.

    Conference play has already started and one Big Boy already has a conference loss. Will that be the end of their season?

    Doubtful. It's highly unlikely anyone will run the tables in the Big 12. The way this conference is playing, every week is a war to get to the top. And stay there.

    This week we have a consensus No. 1, but their road to a BCS bowl is riddled with land mines.

    Let the carnage begin. 

No. 10: Kansas Jayhawks

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    The Kansas Jayhawks are now 1-3 with their lone win coming against FCS school South Dakota State. Losses include Rice, TCU and Northern Illinois. We weren't expecting much in head coach Charlie Weis' first year, but losing 25-24 to Rice was a real disappointment.

    If there is a bright note, it's that Kansas is keeping the scores much closer than last year's debacle. They've lost three games by a combined total of 22 points.  

    The Jayhawks have a bye this week to prepare for their date at Kansas State on October 6. 

No. 9: Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    The Cowboys are nationally ranked first in scoring and second in pass offense, so why are they this low in the Big 12? 

    Scoring 84 points against Savannah State tends to skew the stats. So does scoring 65 points on Louisiana.

    But losing to Arizona 59-38? That's a reality check. The bottom line is that the Cowboys have beaten two cupcakes but got spanked by a Pac-12 team, the same Pac-12 team that got shut out this Saturday by Oregon, 49-0. 

    Oklahoma State had a bye this weekend—did it help them prepare for their date with Texas in Stillwater this Saturday? Stay tuned.    

No. 8: Texas Tech Red Raiders

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    Texas Tech is 3-0 after playing Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico. So far, so good.

    But until they play a team with a pulse, they haven't earned a spot higher than No. 8. 

    The Red Raiders actually look solid on both sides of the ball, but again, it's hard to gauge how good they really are until they play a more competitive team. This weekend they get a decent test at Iowa State. 

    Beat the Cyclones and the Red Raiders will jump up a notch.

    Or two. 

No. 7: Baylor Bears

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    The Baylor Bears didn't get trapped at Louisiana-Monroe and flew home with a 47-42 victory. It's a nice win against a tough Sun Belt team, but this needs to be reiterated: Louisiana-Monroe is a Sun Belt team. 

    Allowing the Warhawks to score 42 points is fairly concerning, especially with the Mountaineers next up on the slate at Morgantown, West Virginia.

    Food for thought: It's West Virginia's Homecoming Day this Saturday, which means the schedulers thought this game against Baylor will make the alumni happy.

No. 6: Oklahoma Sooners

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    It's hard to fathom the Sooners this low in my power rankings, but there aren't any valid reasons to put them any higher than No. 6. 

    Oklahoma struggled against UTEP, winning 24-7, spanked Florida A&M 69-13 and then got manhandled by Kansas State, losing 24-19.

    The Sooners are now 0-1 in conference play, and while I expect a big bounce, right now I'm not on board the Boomer Schooner.

No. 5: Iowa State Cyclones

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    Iowa State has the same 3-0 start as last year's 3-0 start, except this year the Cyclones have a shot to go 4-0 when they host Texas Tech on September 29. Texas rained on the Cyclones' parade last season when the Longhorns initiated what would eventually become a four-game losing streak for Iowa State.

    Are the Cyclones a legit team? So far, they look the part. They beat a tough Tulsa team in their home opener and then beat Iowa in Iowa City. 

    We'll know a little bit more about Iowa State in a few weeks, but right now, they are making some waves. 

No. 4: TCU Horned Frogs

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    So far, the Horned Frogs are 3-0 (1-0), but they haven't looked overwhelming. They spanked Grambling State 56-0 in their home opener, but only scoring 20 points on Kansas is a little alarming.

    Keep in mind, Rice scored 25 on the Jayhawks and Northern Illinois scored 30. Heck, South Dakota State scored 17 points on Kansas. 

    I'm a believer in Gary Patterson-coached teams, and since he only has a handful of returning starters on each side of the ball, he gets the benefit of the doubt. 

    For now. 

No. 3: Texas Longhorns

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    Well hello, Texas Longhorns. It's so nice to see you looking like the Longhorns of yore. Dominant. Feared. Clicking on all cylinders.

    Ole Miss isn't exactly a Top 20 team, but traveling to Oxford and dropping 66 points on any SEC team gets respect. Major respect. 

    This week the Longhorns travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma to play Oklahoma State in the first of a three-game gauntlet. Then it's West Virginia and Oklahoma.


No. 2: West Virginia Mountaineers

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    We know how good West Virginia can be. We're just waiting to see the Mountaineers cut loose in the Big 12 since head coach Dana Holgorsen has shown remarkable restraint with his playbook. It's like a big tease.

    So far, the Mountaineers have played a plethora of non-conference games against Marshall, James Madison and Maryland, but they host Baylor this Saturday. 

    Nick Florence vs. Geno Smith in a shootout?

    Pass the popcorn. 

No. 1: Kansas State Wildcats

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    Last year wasn't a fluke. And neither is this year.

    One of the most remarkable things about watching Kansas State play is all the little things they do right. The Wildcats' clock management is beautiful. Gap discipline, play execution, patience and solid line play are all the markings of a great team.

    All the signs of a Bill Snyder-coached team.

    Snyder may not get the 5-star recruits, but his player development is off the charts. Snyder recognizes a player's biggest strength and works his offense around that player's ability. Quarterback Collin Klein is now the maestro of Snyder's orchestra. 

    Kansas State looked like a world-beater after stuffing Miami (FL) 52-13.

    And beating Oklahoma 24-19 in Norman, Oklahoma?

    That gets you the No. 1 slot in the Big 12.