There were some major upsets across college football in Week 7, but the Big 12 was mostly spared—unless you count Texas' 36-20 win over Oklahoma. The 'Horns were a two-touchdown underdog, but they also sit alone atop the conference standings.
That doesn't mean there weren't close calls. Baylor and Texas Tech barely got out alive against Kansas State and Iowa State, respectively.
Baylor should still be the favorite to win the conference, but there are a handful of other teams that have a legitimate shot too. Nothing should surprise anyone anymore.
So what did we learn in Week 7?
Sources: Baylor is Human, After All
There's nothing wrong with the Bears scoring 35 points and winning by double digits on the road. Any criticism of that is jadedness.
What was concerning for Baylor was how easily Kansas State ran the ball—rushing for 327 yards and three touchdowns, to be exact. Wildcats quarterback Daniel Sams diced the Bears with his legs. There were no secrets about what he was going to do, yet Baylor had no answer for it.
Saturday was an example of what happens when a defense is able to limit Baylor's big plays on offense. It probably won't be the last time, either, since Baylor's schedule gets tougher toward the end of the year. How the defense responds could be the difference between an undefeated or nine-win season.
If it can't stop opposing offense from racking up yards, Baylor's defense is going to need to force turnovers to be successful.
Despite Its Record, Kansas State is Finding an Identity
These are frustrating times in Manhattan, to be sure, but things are looking up for Kansas State, despite its 2-4 record.
The Wildcats appear to have found a quarterback in Daniel Sams. Both he and Jake Waters will probably continue to split time, but Sams gives the Wildcats an extra gear with his running ability.
Meanwhile, K-State's defense has come light-years from where it was at the beginning of the year against North Dakota State. From allowing the Bisons to march all the way down the field for a game-winning touchdown to holding Baylor to half its season average for points, the transformation has been stunning.
K-State will need to win four of its final six games to become bowl eligible. If the 'Cats play like they did against Baylor, they should have a good chance of making it back to the postseason.
Limit the Miscues and Texas Tech Can Win the Big 12 Title
Texas Tech survived a feisty Iowa State by allowing the Cyclones to stay alive with turnovers and special-teams gaffes. It wasn't the Red Raiders' sharpest game, but if that can be tightened up, there's a lot to like about this team.
Kliff Kingsbury can plug in any quarterback and have at least some degree of success. On Saturday, freshman Davis Webb threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns while filling in for the injured Baker Mayfield. Tight end Jace Amaro is not only Texas Tech's best receiving option, he's the best wide receiver in the Big 12.
It's hard to blame Tech's defense, which has been great all year, for Iowa State's 35 points. Cyclones receiver Jarvis West had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and a combination of turnovers and punt returns gave Iowa State favorable field position to start a couple of drives.
Clean up the miscues and Texas Tech can realistically compete for a conference title.
Oklahoma's Defensive Line Problems Were Fully Exposed
Defensive line depth was a concern for OU heading into the season. Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has countered that by running more sets with three down linemen and putting more speed on the field in the back eight.
Typically, that works well against spread offenses like Louisiana-Monroe and Tulsa, but some of the weaknesses began showing against Notre Dame. Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite called a great game against OU Saturday by sticking with a power run game. The Longhorns ran right up the middle of OU's defensive line, and it worked almost every time.
There aren't many Big 12 teams that will consistently run up the middle, but road games against Baylor (Nov. 7) and Kansas State (Nov. 23) have the potential to be nightmares for Oklahoma if it can't improve in that area.
When "Good Texas" Shows Up, Watch Out
Texas and its 19 returning starters played the best, most inspired football it had in three years in a 36-20 win over OU on Saturday. It may not mean much in the larger story of Mack Brown's future, but it was a win that gave life to Brown's previous statements that a Big 12 title was still within reach.
If Texas plays like it did against the Sooners, Brown might be on to something—even with the injuries to quarterback David Ash and linebacker Jordan Hicks. Running the ball is Texas' best asset on offense, and the defense appears to have made a lot of strides under new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.
"Good Texas" looks like a team that can compete for a Big 12 title. "Bad Texas," the team that showed up against Iowa State, has to disappear for good.
Other Happenings in the Big 12 in Week 7
Best offensive performance: Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb. There were a few worthy candidates for the Big 12 blog's weekly offensive award, but Webb threw for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start. And Iowa State's defense hadn't given up 40 points since 2011 against, of all teams, Texas Tech.
Best defensive performance: Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller. The junior was all over the place with seven tackles, two sacks and this beautiful forced fumble and recovery against Baylor's Bryce Petty.
Most obvious sign that Kliff Kingsbury's real name is Damien Thorn: Texas Tech had 666 yards of offense against Iowa State (H/T: @KevinOnCFB). The number of the beast!
MAH GAWD moment of the weekend: Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker had a heat-seeking missile implanted in his body with coordinates +Case-McCoy. The destruction was horrific.
Worst crowd shot: Kansas vs. TCU. Woof.
This is kind of sad, TCU. pic.twitter.com/TS3kHBLu4A— Kate Morrison (@unlikelyfanatic) October 12, 2013
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.