The Big 12 is starting to shake itself out. We can now see who are the contenders and who are the pretenders.
Two weeks ago Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Kansas State appeared to be in total control of their own destinies. But since that time, KSU's weaknesses have become glaring, OU has soundly beaten two opponents but suffered just as many devastating injuries, and OSU has proved that they have little intention of beating anyone with defense, rather simply challenging teams to score more points.
In that same time period, Texas has turned in two dominant performances, albeit one against a floundering Kansas program.
With Week 10 now in the books, let's take a look at Week 11 and see if things continue to clear.
OSU has scored and scored and scored. Their defense has been poor, though. If it weren't for their outstanding passing game, ranking second in the nation, the Cowboys surely wouldn't be able to rely on its running game, ranked 46th, or its defense, ranked 77th, to beat anyone.
The Red Raiders have been inconsistent at best since conference play began. With a prolific passing game, sixth in the nation, Texas Tech won't be running the ball on anyone, ranked 81st, or its defense, ranked 104th, to win.
Prediction: Oklahoma State slings the ball up and down the field and the Red Raiders won't stop them. Neither team puts much effort into their running game and the defenses fail to stop each other most of the day.
Final Score: 63-35 Oklahoma State
KU is in total disarray. The Jayhawks have a balanced attack, but that isn't necessarily a good thing. They don't pass well and they don't run much better. Their passing game ranks 94th and the running game is a slight improvement, ranked 48th. On defense Kansas doesn't seem to be able to stop anyone on a consistent basis, with their defense among the worst in points allowed.
Baylor, like many others in the Big 12, love to throw the ball, ranking fifth in the nation, but they also are fairly adept at running the ball, ranking 20th. They put big numbers on the board almost every week. But defense is where the Bears fall short, ranking 114th, and often those big numbers fall short of the bigger numbers of their opponents
Prediction: Baylor runs and passes at will. Kansas appears confused and watches the clock, waiting for the season to be over, hoping to be better next season.
Final Score: 52-17 Baylor
Texas has seemingly matured in the last two weeks and returned to the days of old when they pounded the ball down their opponents' throats. The Longhorns have to rely on their running game, ranked 11th in the nation, because their passing game is woeful, ranked 91st. A somewhat stingy defense, ranked 31st, when compared to the rest of the Big 12, also helps.
The Tigers appear, on paper, to match up well with Texas. They, too, rely on their running game, ranked 12th in the nation, and pass well, ranked 37th. Missouri's defense is middling, ranked 62nd, which has proven to be the demise of many games for the Tigers this season.
Prediction: Texas pounds the ball between the tackles and when it's Missouri's turn, they, too, run the ball. Both teams pass just enough to keep the other team honest. In this matchup, Texas' superior defense wins the day.
Final Score: 31-28 Texas
The Aggies have a balanced approach. Their passing game, ranked 12th in the nation, and the running game, ranked 19th, fuel A&M's scoring attack. But the problem isn't with scoring, it's with the defense not being being able to stop their opponents, ranked 77th. The Aggies aren't potent enough offensively to beat good teams, but average-to-weak teams should be beware.
Kansas State will be happy to be back home and beyond the toughest stretch of their schedule. Relying on the ground game, ranked 18th in the nation, and an anemic passing game, ranked 112th, the Wildcats score enough points to win and hope that their average defense, ranked 68th, can keep passing attacks out of the end zone.
Prediction: Kansas State was embarrassed at home two weeks ago and simply ran out of steam in a score-fest this past week. The score will be closer than the game, but look for KSU to ground and pound the ball through the A&M defense until the Aggies are simply worn out.
Final Score: 31-28 Kansas State
Oklahoma gets two weeks to gather themselves after the devastating personnel losses they've suffered in successive games: Dominique Whaley to a fractured ankle and Ryan Broyles to an ACL tear. The Sooners won't so much look to replace these players as they will reload.
Iowa State has two weeks to figure out exactly who they're going to be in their next game. Two weeks ago, they trounced Texas Tech, but this past week, they struggled against Kansas. Following their bye, the Cyclones face the air attack of Oklahoma State.