Texas and Oklahoma lead Big 12 power rankings; KU ekes out third place

photo by: AP Photo/Michael Thomas

Texas celebrates during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Austin, Texas. Texas won 31-10.

For the first time this season, the top two spots in the Big 12 Conference power rankings are unanimous.

Texas received all 14 first-place votes for the second week in a row, and Oklahoma was the pick for the second spot in voting from a panel of beat writers that regularly cover the Big 12.

The next five spots are a toss-up as 12 points separate the Nos. 3-7 spots between Kansas, UCF, Kansas State, TCU and BYU.

West Virginia made the biggest jump of the week, moving up three spots to No. 10 after beating rival Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl.

Oklahoma State had the biggest drop, going from a tie for sixth to 11th this week after a 33-7 loss to South Alabama.

1. Texas

Previous ranking: 1

Points: 196 (14 first-place votes)

Record: 3-0

Last week: defeated Wyoming, 31-10

This week: at Baylor

Comment: The Longhorns had trouble shaking gritty Wyoming until the fourth quarter, when big plays on both sides of the ball keyed a 21-0 run. Defense remains the team’s bedrock; Texas allowed just 269 yards and 17 points a game against a trio of opponents that has a collective 6-0 record against squads other than the Longhorns.

Did you know? Texas committed its first turnover of the season late in the game against Wyoming and has a plus-5 turnover margin for the season. — Thomas Jones, Austin American-Statesman

2. Oklahoma

Previous ranking: 3

Points: 182

Record: 3-0

Last week: defeated Tulsa, 66-17

This week: at Cincinnati

Comment: Oklahoma begins its final season in the Big 12 Conference with a road trip to Cincinnati. The Sooners currently rank in the top five nationally in scoring offense (55.7 ppg) and scoring defense (9.3 ppg) and their plus-46.3 average scoring margin leads the country.

Did you know? OU has won 14 Big 12 championships in the league’s 27-year history. No other school has won more than three titles. — Eric Bailey, Tulsa World

3. Kansas

Previous ranking: 4

Points: 155

Record: 3-0

Last week: defeated Nevada, 31-24

This week: vs. BYU

Comment: The Jayhawks avoided a massive letdown on the road, thanks to three Devin Neal rushing touchdowns and a late fourth-down stop by Kenny Logan Jr. Possession remained with Nevada on five separate offensive fumbles, helping the Wolf Pack hang around in the game all night.

Did you know? This week’s battle with BYU will also divide a pair of siblings on opposite sides of the ball, as Kansas cornerback Kwinton Lassiter takes on his brother Darius, a wide receiver for the Cougars. – Henry Greenstein, Lawrence Journal-World

4. UCF

Previous ranking: 5

Points: 150

Record: 3-0

Last week: defeated Villanova, 48-14

This week: at Kansas State

Comment: Backup quarterback Timmy McClain shook off a rusty start to complete 14 of his final 17 passes to help lead UCF to a 48-14 win over Villanova Saturday. McClain, who was playing for the injured John Rhys Plumlee, finished 20-of-28 for 322 passing yards, two touchdowns and 44 rushing yards on nine carries.

Did you know? The Knights lead the nation in total offense (618 yards) for the third straight week and are second in rushing offense (299 yards). — Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

5. Kansas State

Previous ranking: 2

Points: 149

Record: 2-1

Last week: lost to Missouri, 30-27

This week: vs. UCF

Comment: The Wildcats fell out of the Top 25 when Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis made a 61-yard field goal as time expired on Saturday. Was the loss a hiccup for K-State? Or was it a sign of bigger problems on the horizon?

Did you know? K-State surprisingly lost to Tulane at home last season and then beat Oklahoma on the road the following week. – Kellis Robinett, Wichita Eagle/Kansas City Star

6. TCU

Previous ranking: 8

Points: 147

Record: 2-1

Last week: defeated Houston, 36-13

This week: vs. SMU

Comment: The Horned Frogs weren’t perfect, but handled business on the road against the Cougars. Chandler Morris made up for two turnovers with 367 yards of total offense while Emani Bailey rushed for 126 yards on 23 carries.

Did you know? TCU’s defense has held opposing offenses out of the end zone two weeks in a row. Houston’s only touchdown came on special teams. – Steven Johnson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

photo by: AP Photo/Michael Woods

BYU quarterback Kedon Slovis (10) drops back to pass against Arkansas during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Fayetteville, Ark.

7. BYU

Previous ranking: 9

Points: 143

Record: 3-0

Last week: defeated Arkansas, 38-31

This week: at Kansas

Comment: Down double digits multiple times on Saturday, BYU rallied back to beat Arkansas on the road. It served as BYU’s first big moment of the Big 12 era and proved the defense can keep the Cougars in games.

Did you know? BYU head coach Kalani Sitake is now 3-3 against SEC teams, with two road wins. — Kevin Reynolds, The Salt Lake Tribune

8. Texas Tech

Previous ranking: 10

Points: 94

Record: 1-2

Last week: defeated Tarleton State, 41-3

This week: at West Virginia

Comment: At the very least the Red Raiders were respectable in their two early losses, more than can be said for some of the others in the league. Beating up on Tarleton State won’t move the needle, but it’s a start.

Did you know? This will be the fourth time in the last six years Texas Tech has opened Big 12 play on the road. The Red Raiders have only won one of the previous three (2018 at No. 15 Oklahoma State). — Nathan Giese, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

9. Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 6

Points: 81

Record: 2-1

Last week: lost to Miami (Ohio), 31-24 in OT

This week: vs. Oklahoma

Comment: UC struggled scoring touchdowns in the red zone versus Miami (OH) but still had a chance to win in regulation. The game went to overtime after Carter Brown’s 35-yard field goal attempt was blocked. Miami scored on their overtime possession, then picked off Emory Jones in the endzone to gain their first win in the series in 18 years.

Did you know? Fox Sports will bring their “Big Noon Kickoff” show to the University of Cincinnati for the school’s first Big 12 football game. The two teams have previously played twice with Oklahoma winning both. In 2010, the then-No. 8 Sooners avoided an upset by the Bearcats 31-29 in a game played in the Bengals’ stadium. Saturday’s contest is on campus at Nippert Stadium. – Scott Springer, Cincinnati Enquirer

10. West Virginia

Previous ranking: 13

Points: 80

Record: 2-1

Last week: defeated Pitt, 17-6

This week: vs. Texas Tech

Comment: Guided by a steady backup quarterback and an inspired defense, WVU gutted out a win over its biggest rival. The Mountaineers aren’t a pretty team by any stretch but playing ugly doesn’t seem to faze them.

Did you know? The Mountaineers currently have a winning record for the first time since early in the 2021 season. – Cody Nespor, Morgantown Dominion Post

11. Oklahoma State

Previous ranking: 6

Points: 60

Record: 2-1

Last week: lost to South Alabama, 33-7

This week: at Iowa State

Comment: Oklahoma State’s offensive concerns all piled up at once against a highly motivated South Alabama squad. The Cowboys’ quarterback carousel, rotating three QBs every four possessions, resulted in 114 yards on 16-of-35 passing, but the absence of the run game remains far more concerning. OSU had 94 yards on 29 carries and failed to match the physicality of the Jaguars’ defensive front.

Did you know? OSU has lost five games to Group of Five opponents in Mike Gundy’s 19-year tenure, but three of those came in his first five seasons, and two were against Houston, now a Big 12 member. – Scott Wright, The Oklahoman

12. Baylor

Previous ranking: 14

Points: 46

Record: 1-2

Last week: defeated Long Island, 30-7

This week: vs. No. 4 Texas

Comment: Baylor overcame a two-hour weather delay and ran past Long Island to snap its six-game losing streak. The Bears put up 270 yards on the ground, led by true freshman Dawson Pendergrass with 111 yards and a touchdown, while Richard Reese, last year’s Big 12 offensive freshman of the year, scored his first two touchdowns this season. Starting quarterback Blake Shapen remains unlikely to play in the Big 12 opener against Texas with an MCL injury.

Did you know? Saturday will mark the final meeting between Texas and Baylor as Big 12 rivals. The Bears have faced off against the Longhorns 112 times since their first meeting in 1901, the second-most games against a single opponent in Baylor program history. Texas leads the all-time series 80-28-4. — Zach Smith, Waco Tribune-Herald

13. Houston

Previous ranking: 12

Points: 35

Record: 1-2

Last week: lost to TCU, 36-13

This week: vs. Sam Houston

Comment: Houston continued to struggle offensively, failing to score an offensive touchdown for the first time since 2014, in a disappointing Big 12 debut against TCU. Coach Dana Holgorsen said this week that a lack of quality depth prevents him from making any significant changes. Another poor performance may force his hand.

Did you know? With Matthew Golden’s 98-yard kickoff return touchdown against TCU, the Cougars have a nation-leading seven since 2019. — Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

14. Iowa State

Previous ranking: 11

Points: 30

Record: 1-2

Last week: lost at Ohio, 10-7

This week: vs. Oklahoma State

Comment: The Cyclones can point to missed field goals and an inability to establish a running game as primary reasons for consecutive one-score losses. They’ll face a Cowboys team that’s similarly struggled to score but has won four of the past five meetings in Ames.

Did you know? Dating back to the last half of the 2021 season, Iowa State is 1-12 in games decided by seven points or fewer. — Rob Gray, Cedar Rapids Gazette


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