KU holds at No. 3 entering Texas showdown, WVU and ISU surge in Big 12 power rankings

photo by: AP Photo/Gregory Payan

West Virginia's Jalen Thornton (97) leads the team onto the field before an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Morgantown, W. Va.

West Virginia continues to climb in the latest Big 12 Conference power rankings.

Winners of three straight games, the Mountaineers moved to eighth in the voting from a panel of beat writers that regularly cover the Big 12. Last in the rankings after a season-opening loss to Penn State, West Virginia has made the biggest move in the last three weeks, climbing six spots following wins over Duquesne, Pittsburgh and Texas Tech.

The top three spots remained the same: Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. The Longhorns were a unanimous pick for the top spot for the third straight week.

Iowa State made the biggest jump, from 14th to 10th, in this week’s rankings.

1. Texas

Previous ranking: 1

Points: 196 (14 first-place votes)

Record: 4-0 (1-0 Big 12)

Last week: defeated Baylor, 38-6

This week: vs. No. 24 Kansas

Comment: The Longhorns’ defense dominated Baylor in what could have been the last game in a series that dates back to 1901. Texas has given up just 50 points in its first four games, which is the lowest total allowed since the 2008 team gave up 43 points in a 4-0 start.

Did you know? Quinn Ewers has thrown 112 passes this season without an interception, which extends his streak of consecutive passes without an interception to 228, the second-longest streak in UT history behind the 308 without a pick by Sam Ehlinger in 2018. – Thomas Jones, Austin American-Statesman

2. Oklahoma

Previous ranking: 2

Points: 181

Record: 4-0 (1-0 Big 12)

Last week: defeated Cincinnati, 20-6

This week: vs. Iowa State

Comment: Oklahoma’s defense – scorned heavily for the past decade – has only allowed 34 points and three touchdowns in its first four games. It’s the fewest points OU has allowed in the opening four weeks since giving up 32 in 1992.

Did you know? The Sooners own a 79-7-2 record all-time against Iowa State. The .909 winning percentage against ISU is the best by one Power Five program against another with a minimum of 50 games played. – Eric Bailey, Tulsa World

3. Kansas

Previous ranking: 3

Points: 159

Record: 4-0 (1-0 Big 12)

Last week: defeated BYU, 38-27

This week: at No. 3 Texas

Comment: A defensive touchdown at the start of each half and a clock-chewing run game helped the Jayhawks outlast BYU. KU’s defense has shown dramatic improvement but has plenty more work to do, particularly against the pass, ahead of a showdown with Texas.

Did you know? Prior to KU’s stunning 57-56 upset win over Texas in 2021, then-sophomore third-string quarterback Jalon Daniels was still expected to redshirt that season. But after Daniels tossed three touchdowns and ran for one more that day, he claimed the starting job and has not relinquished it since. – Henry Greenstein, Lawrence Journal-World

4. Kansas State

Previous ranking: 5

Points: 156

Record: 3-1 (1-0 Big 12)

Last week: defeated UCF, 44-31

This week: Open date

Comment: The Wildcats looked pretty darn good gaining 536 yards and scoring 44 points against the UCF Knights, but K-State has room to improve on defense, especially when it comes to preventing big plays.

Did you know? DJ Giddens had one of the best games in school history for a running back on his way to 293 total yards and four touchdowns. – Kellis Robinett, Wichita Eagle/Kansas City Star

5. TCU

Previous ranking: 6

Points: 143

Record: 3-1 (1-0 Big 12)

Last week: defeated SMU, 34-17

This week: vs. West Virginia

Comment: The Horned Frogs delivered another strong defensive performance, limiting the Mustangs to just two touchdowns, and one of those came in garbage time. Chandler Morris had no turnovers and threw for three touchdowns.

Did you know? Emani Bailey has rushed for 100 yards or more in three of his four starts and currently leads the league in rushing. – Steven Johnson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

6. UCF

Previous ranking: 4

Points: 119

Record: 3-1 (0-1 Big 12)

Last week: lost to Kansas State, 44-31

This week: vs. Baylor

Comment: UCF’s Big 12 debut didn’t go as planned as the Knights committed two turnovers and were penalized a season-high 10 times for 80 yards. The defense allowed 500-plus yards for only the second time in the past two seasons as Kansas State tailback DJ Giddens rushed for a career-high 207 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Did you know? The Knights allowed a 200-yard rusher for the first time since Memphis’ Darrell Henderson rushed for 210 yards in the American Athletic Conference title game in 2018. The four rushing touchdowns were the most since Syracuse’s Walter Reyes in Sept. 20, 2003. — Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Journal-World photo

Kansas linebacker Cornell Wheeler knocks the ball loose for a fumble against BYU Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

7. BYU

Previous ranking: 7

Points: 113

Record: 3-1 (0-1 Big 12)

Last week: lost to Kansas, 38-27

This week: vs. Cincinnati, Friday

Comment: BYU got away with a spotty run game the first three weeks of the season. That wasn’t the case in its Big 12 debut as the Cougars rushed for 9 yards and couldn’t throw their way out of a second-half deficit.

Did you know? Quarterback Kedon Slovis threw it 51 times this weekend, the most of any BYU QB since Zach Wilson in 2019. – Kevin Reynolds, The Salt Lake Tribune

8. West Virginia

Previous ranking: 10

Points: 97

Record: 3-1 (1-0 Big 12)

Last week: defeated Texas Tech, 20-13

This week: at TCU

Comment: An ugly win is still a win and the Mountaineers have won back-to-back ugly games to go a perfect 3-0 on their early-season homestand. The defense was unexpectedly excellent for the second week in a row and an underperforming offense scored just enough to win. The defense will need to continue showing improvements and the offense must kick into another gear as WVU gets into the meat of its Big 12 schedule this week.

Did you know? West Virginia has won three games in a row for the first time under head coach Neal Brown. 3-1 is WVU’s best start to a season since 2020. – Cody Nespor, Morgantown Dominion Post

9. Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 9

Points: 74

Record: 2-2 (0-1 Big 12)

Last week: lost to No. 16 Oklahoma, 20-6

This week: at BYU, Friday

Comment: UC held Oklahoma to a season-low 20 points and became the first team to hold a lead against the Sooners after an early field goal. But much like the previous week, they struggled in the red zone and now haven’t had a touchdown in their last 15 possessions.

Did you know? The Bearcats have a short week as they fly across two time zones to get to Provo, Utah, for BYU Friday night on ESPN. UC last played there in 2015 and led 24-17 after three quarters before the Cougars dominated the fourth with 21 unanswered points to win 38-24. Hybrid safety/linebacker Deshawn Pace was suspended for the Oklahoma game but will be available Friday. – Scott Springer, Cincinnati Enquirer

10. Iowa State

Previous ranking: 14

Points: 72

Record: 2-2 (1-0 Big 12)

Last week: defeated Oklahoma State, 34-27

This week: at No. 14 Oklahoma

Comment: The Cyclones’ offense was revived in the Big 12 opener against the Cowboys, scoring its most points since a 48-14 win over TCU on Nov. 26, 2021, and matching its most yards gained (422) since that victory over the Horned Frogs.

Did you know? Iowa State has won in Norman just twice since 1961, but the past three meetings at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium — including a 38-31 triumph in 2017 — have been decided by seven or fewer points. – Rob Gray, Cedar Rapids Gazette

11. Texas Tech

Previous ranking: 8

Points: 57

Record: 1-3 (0-1 Big 12)

Last week: lost to West Virginia, 20-13

This week: vs. Houston

Comment: The Red Raiders lack mojo, success and their starting quarterback. This has a chance to get worse before it gets better.

Did you know? After going 4-0 in one-score games last year, Tech is 0-3 in such games in 2023 and has now lost 20 of its last 26 games on the road. – Nathan Giese, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

12. Houston

Previous ranking: 13

Points: 49

Record: 2-2 (0-1 Big 12)

Last week: defeated Sam Houston, 38-7

This week: at Texas Tech

Comment: Coach Dana Holgorsen made a small lineup change to spark the offense, giving freshman running back Parker Jenkins his first career start. Jenkins responded with 105 rushing yards and three touchdowns to earn the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Week. His emergence gives the Cougars an explosive weapon capable of running around or through would-be defenders.

Did you know? Quarterback Donovan Smith returns to Lubbock this week to face his old team, Texas Tech. In last year’s meeting between the two schools, Smith engineered a game-tying drive in the final minute of regulation, converted a key fourth-and-20 in the first overtime and scored the winning touchdown in a 33-30 double-OT win over the Cougars. – Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

13. Oklahoma State

Previous ranking: 11

Points: 33

Record: 2-2 (0-1 Big 12)

Last week: lost at Iowa State, 34-27

This week: Open date

Comment: After rotating three quarterbacks through the first three games, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy settled on super-senior transfer Alan Bowman as the team’s one and only QB at Iowa State on Saturday. He threw for 278 yards, completing just under 50% of his passes, with two touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss.

Did you know? Oklahoma State has scored exactly 27 points in three of its first four games of the season. – Scott Wright, The Oklahoman

14. Baylor

Previous ranking: 12

Points: 21

Record: 1-3 (0-1 Big 12)

Last week: lost to No. 3 Texas, 38-6

This week: at UCF

Comment: Baylor struggled on both sides of the ball in the final conference meeting against the Longhorns. The Bears managed just 60 rushing yards against the dominant Texas front. Baylor got to the red zone six times on Saturday but managed just two field goals with one interception and a turnover on downs. Quarterback Blake Shapen is expected to return this week after missing the last three games with an MCL injury.

Did you know? Baylor and UCF have only met one other time. The Knights got the better of the Bears behind 301 passing yards from Blake Bortles in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl. – Zach Smith, Waco Tribune-Herald


Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.