1. Kansas State: In
holding the Wildcats to a season low 23 points, TCU demonstrated that an elite
rush defense can keep Bill Snyder’s attack in check.
But every time KSU’s offense comes down to earth, the defense rises to the
occasion and preserves the perfect season. A stellar defensive display won’t be
needed this weekend against Baylor, but it may be in the closer against Texas.
2. Oklahoma: In
their last three games the Sooners lost at home by 17 to Notre Dame, beat a
fast fading Iowa State by 15, and struggled to an eight-point win over Baylor. One
suspects that Oklahoma has another conference loss ahead of them.
3. Oklahoma State: While
several Big 12 teams are gasping and wheezing in the home stretch, the Cowboys
seem to be picking up steam. The defense is only average, but that offense,
even with the musical chairs routine at quarterback, is a handful. Throw in
perhaps the best special teams unit in the conference, and you’ve got the
nation’s most underrated team.
4. Texas: The
Longhorns got their act together just in time for the Texas Tech clash and now
look like the team people expected them to be at the beginning of the year. Texas
now gets to rest up for a Thanksgiving day battle with TCU that could be as
interesting as their once traditional tussle with Texas A&M. But the Horns
are doubtless thankful that the Aggies are not on their slate this year.
5. Texas Tech: The
Red Raiders appear to be running out of gas, and opposing offensive
coordinators are finally deciphering the Tech defense. Tommy Tuberville expects
to get a few injured players back over the next two weeks, but will that be
enough to add to the win column? Oklahoma State will be a colossal challenge
and Baylor doesn’t look quite like a tomato can anymore.
6. TCU: The
Horned Frogs have lost three of their last four, but you still get the sense
that this is a pretty good football team. TCU is playing like Iowa State did earlier
in the season—very stingy defense and quarterback-deficient offense.
Still, the Frogs seem to have more depth than the Cyclones.
7. West Virginia: The
losses just keep coming for West Virginia, and that’s unlikely to change this
week against Oklahoma. The Mountaineers are learning what life is like in the
Big 12. Still, West Virginia could have gotten a much better result against
Oklahoma State were it not for several stupid blunders. This team still has a
bit of pep.
8. Baylor: With
the exception of a bad first quarter, the Bears played the Sooners on very even
terms last weekend. And this after demolishing a Kansas team that very nearly
beat Texas Tech on the road. Baylor has held together and may now be playing
its best football of the season. But they’ll need to play completely out of
their minds to have a shot against Kansas State.
9. Iowa State: The
Cyclones have lost four of their last five games. Injuries and general wear and
tear have taken their toll on what was once a very respectable squad. ISU takes
on Kansas this week and don’t be surprised if the Jayhawks snap their 19-game
Big 12 losing streak at Iowa State’s expense.
10. Kansas: The
Jayhawks have played Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech very tough this
season. It won’t be long before Charlie Weis’ outfit breaks through with a win.
And considering that Kansas closes with Iowa State and West Virginia, they
could conceivably conclude the season on a winning streak.