How Oklahoma State, Other Big 12 Teams Look Heading into Bowl Season
Bowl season has kicked off in a rather exciting way down in New Orleans, but the first Big 12 team will not play for another week. Just as with any desired bell curve, the Big 12 this season represented the worst that college football had to offer, to a respectable middle class and finally a very deserving top tier of entries.
Before Missouri takes the field next week, let us take one last look at the postseason power rankings and determine whether they have a chance of moving up or down in the final postseason power rankings based on bowl outcomes.
10. Kansas Jayhawks
Bowl Game: None
Post-Season Standing: It cannot even be stated that Kansas is on the outside looking in when it comes to being a middle-tier team in the Big 12. They finished the 2011 season on a 10-game losing streak and a 0-9 record in the Big 12 (2-10 overall).
To top it off, the Jayhawks parted ways with head coach Turner Gill only two years into his five-year contract. The team has since signed former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis and ushered in what they are calling a “new era."
Chances of Moving Up: Honestly, with the team Kansas fielded this year, they would have trouble winning in the NCAA video game, let alone winning on the field. Clearly, Kansas is wholly deserving of their last place finish in the Big 12, and are so far behind Texas Tech that they have no possible chance of moving up, regardless of bowl outcomes.
9. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Bowl Game: None
Post-Season Standing: Texas Tech finds itself in a very unfamiliar situation, watching all of the bowl games on television instead of all but one. With their Thanksgiving weekend loss to Baylor, the Texas Tech Red Raiders effectively eliminated themselves from a shot at a bowl game for the first time in 11 years.
That being said, the Raiders' 5-7 overall (2- 7 conference) record is not completely void of bright spots. Texas Tech was able to walk into Owen Field and shock the then-third-ranked Oklahoma Sooners team and, essentially, rob them of all realistic national title hopes.
The offense was not bad at all in comparison to other teams that find themselves ranked second to last in their conference. Seth Doege was able to lead the team to a sixth overall ranking in passing yards. However, the defense gave up almost 40 points per game, causing their offense to continually participate in a never-ending shootout with their opponent, which is never a recipe for success.
Chances of Moving Up: Just as with Kansas, Texas Tech is pretty much glued to the second-to-last place spot in the Big 12, regardless of how the bowl games end up. Had the Red Raiders been able to pull through in a couple more games, they might find themselves ranked in the second-tier, but, for now, they are only at the top of the third.
8. Iowa State Cyclones
Bowl Game: New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Fri, Dec 30 3:20 PM ET)
Post-Season Standing: The Iowa State Cyclones find themselves in a bowl game this year, just as with most other teams, because of the generosity and sheer desire for more bowls that riddles college football’s postseason. The Cyclones who are 6-6 overall and 3-6 Big 12 are simply what their record shows, an average team in a good conference.
Not ranking above 35th place (rush offense) in the nation for any of the four major football categories, the Cyclones once again show that they are not a good team, yet not a bad team at the same time.
Chances of Moving Up: The Cyclones could potentially find themselves ranked ahead of Texas A&M only in the case of a win and an A&M loss to Northwestern. This is because Texas A&M is clearly and statistically the better team in its matchup and a loss would do nothing to help its dwindling season.
To further this possibility, if Iowa State were to make impressive use of its pass game against Rutgers, football analysts might be slightly more impressed with this team, as the Scarlet Knights are ranked 12th in pass defense.
7. Texas A&M Aggies
Bowl Game: Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (Sat, Dec 31 12:00 PM ET)
Post-Season Standing: If anyone had told the Aggies that they would finish their last season in the Big 12 in seventh place with a 4-5 conference record and .500 overall record, they would have laughed harder than they would have if they were to also hear Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin would lead them to the SEC in 2012.
The second half meltdowns that plagued the Aggies this year led to the eventual fall to their longtime rival, Texas, and an embarrassing finish for a team that was projected for great things this season.
On the whole, the defensive meltdowns do not look quite as bad on paper as they did for those who watched. A&M finished the season ranked 13th in rush defense, a very respectable number, but it was its 112th ranked pass defense that would be the eventual undoing of this team. They allowed completed passes at the worst possible times. On the flip side, the offense was able to pick up some the slack, ending in the top 25 in both passing and rushing.
Chances of Moving Up: Texas A&M will face the Northwestern Wildcats who come to Texas with the same record and a somewhat respectable offensive unit. In order for Texas A&M to move up in its last Big 12 power rankings ever, they have to stop the 35th ranked pass offense, a task not out of reach by any means.
However, a strong showing by the defense may not be enough as most analysts and fans will be unlikely to forget the final Texas-Texas A&M game in which Texas exploited the Texas A&M defense one final time to come back and win.
On the other hand, two spots up might be in sight as well if Texas A&M’s new former Big 12 now SEC conference-mate Missouri, in addition to Texas, were to lose to a less than stellar North Carolina team.
6. Texas Longhorns
Bowl Game: Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (Wed, Dec 28 8:00 PM ET)
Post-Season Standing: Texas is, quite honestly, the hardest team to discern a clear postseason standing from. They have been arguably the most inconsistent team in the Big 12 this season with more ups and downs this year than the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry had in its existence.
The offense was never quite able to establish its identity and, at one point early on, was shuffling between three quarterbacks before deciding on a strange dual-quarterback play-calling scheme, which made the coaching staff look more confused than the fans sitting at home.
However, the diamond in this rough was the Longhorns’ defense that, before the Baylor game, was ranked in the top ten in the nation (they now place at 14th). Texas sits comfortably in sixth place ahead of the Texas A&M team they beat, but behind the Missouri team they lost to. This spot is very much deserved after the turbulent season they offered.
Chances of Moving Up: Texas, it seems, has a better chance of falling behind Texas A&M with a bad loss to California than they do moving ahead of Missouri. Do not count them out, though, as a Missouri loss could help the Longhorns push up into fifth place in the Big 12 rankings. This would be a nice ending for Texas, which would be able to state Big 12 dominance, standing over the two new SEC teams.
However, it does seem unlikely.
5. Missouri Tigers
Bowl Game: AdvoCare V1000 Independence Bowl (Mon, Dec 26 5:00 PM ET)
Post-Season Standing: Missouri is the leader of the second-tier teams in the Big 12 coming in at fifth. They were able to take care of business against every conference team they faced, except for the four that currently sit above them, leading them to a 5-4 conference record (7-5 overall).
This team has the roster to be a top-tier contender, posting a 12th ranked offense, which had them in the three of their four losses. Yet, as is the story in the Big 12, the defensive unit could not back up its offense, placing 59th.
Chances of Moving Up: Mizzou has complete control over where they stand in its final Big 12 power rankings. If the Tigers can pull through in their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels they will have secured the fifth spot, proving why they sit ahead of Texas and Texas A&M.
They do, however, have a distant shot at placing ahead of Oklahoma if the Sooners fail to show up completely in their game against Iowa. On that note, Missouri would have to make quite the case for themselves, completely blowing the Tar Heels out of the water in order for this thought to cross the minds of analysts.
4. Oklahoma Sooners
Bowl Game: Insight Bowl (Fri, Dec 30 10:00 PM ET)
Post-Season Standing: The Oklahoma Sooners had dreams of glory to start this season, especially since they were ranked No. 1 in the AP preseason poll. The reality check came after Texas Tech dealt Oklahoma its first loss of the season.
Since then, they went on to drop a second to Baylor in one of the most exciting games of the season and they aided to the bedlam for fans in Stillwater with a blowout loss to Oklahoma State.
The Sooners are not a bad team by any means, ranking fourth at 365.1 passing yards per game with NFL prospect Landry Jones at the helm and 167 rushing yards, a number any NFL team would love to average. However, as the season wore on, the Sooners showed why they had no realistic chance at the national title, as they could not rally in the big games.
Chances of Moving Up: A 44-10 shellacking to end the season is no way to make a case for a higher ranking. However, the Sooners could be eyeing a third-place finish with a huge upset for Baylor in the Alamo Bowl against the University of Washington.
Right now, the Sooners need to worry about taking care of their own business first. Falling to Iowa in a trap game could spell disaster for Oklahoma and possibly continue its downward spiral in the Big 12.
3. Baylor Bears
Bowl Game: Valero Alamo Bowl (Thu, Dec 29 9:00 PM ET)
Post-Season Standing: The best part of Baylor’s year: they did not succumb to a season-ending meltdown like they did in 2010. Instead, the Bears finished strong, beating Oklahoma and Texas to remain undefeated at home and welcoming the Heisman trophy to Waco with star quarterback Robert Griffin III.
They currently sit in third place in the Big 12 with a 9-3 overall record (6-3 conference) and an unstoppable force on offense with Griffin at the lead and running back Terrance Ganaway quietly leading the Bears to 215.1 rushing yards per game. Without a doubt, the Achilles heel of this team lies in the defense that places in at an embarrassing 112th place.
Chances of Moving Up: If the Bears completely manhandle the Washington Huskies and the defense is able to stop the capably explosive offense, then Baylor might be able to make a case for the No. 2 spot in the final power rankings. This relies on an Arkansas beat down of Kansas State, which seems unlikely as the Cotton Bowl matchup is sure to be one of the best games this bowl season.
For the time being, Baylor should simply focus on earning that 10th win and feel very comfortable in a well-deserved third-place spot.
2. Kansas State Wildcats
Bowl Game: Cotton Bowl (Fri, Jan 6 8:00 PM ET)
Post-Season Standing: The Kansas State Wildcats are, very simply, a team that just knows how to win. They are not exceedingly impressive in their offensive or defensive rankings, placing 93rd and 71st, respectively.
The key to the Wildcats' success is that they never stopped fighting. They remain one of the best examples of a team that does not give up when losing or sit back when leading. They showed this ideal trait in the close wins against Texas A&M and Texas and also in the loss to OSU.
With legendary head coach Bill Snyder leading this squad, the Wildcats became one of the Big 12’s biggest surprises of the year, finishing with a 10-2 (7-2 Big 12) record and second-place finish.
Chances of Moving Up: Kansas State has only one more team to overcome before they might be able to consider themselves the Big 12 postseason rankings champion: Oklahoma State. If Kansas is able to pull an LSU on the Arkansas Razorbacks, they may very well show that they have what it takes to dethrone Oklahoma State, were they to meet again (the first game ended 45-52).
In the end, though, Kansas State should be thankful the Cowboys are not playing in the title game, for even a loss in the BCS National Championship game would not warrant a fall for Oklahoma State. Then again, the fact that the Wildcats are not playing in a BCS bowl should not hurt their chances either, as they are deserving of a spot in the Sugar Bowl.
1. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Bowl Game: Fiesta Bowl (Mon, Jan 2 8:30 PM ET)
Post-Season Standing: The Cowboys should be feeling very good about themselves and the way they played this season. Perhaps they had their sights set on a national championship and a good portion of the college football world feel they were cheated out of a chance at the title, but finishing the season ranked third in the nation is not an accomplishment to scoff at.
The Cowboys have always been a good team. However, this year, something just clicked. Oklahoma State was able to take control of almost every game they played this season and not relinquish the reigns. Led by Coach of the Year Mike Gundy and the second-ranked passing game, Oklahoma State made it clear why they are the best team in the Big 12, no question.
Chances at Moving Up: Well, there is no way for OSU to move up in the Big 12 rankings, therefore it should be discussed whether they can place in at No. 2 in the final national rankings. The Cowboys will be facing Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinals in the Fiesta Bowl, making for one of the best bowl games this season.
With a prominent win over this very good Stanford team, Oklahoma State can very well make its case for second place. A little help from LSU or Alabama would be a welcome batch of help as well.
Lastly, as mentioned before, even if Stanford were to come out on top of this matchup, it would be difficult to rank any Big 12 team ahead of Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have the No. 1 spot locked up tight.