At the midway point in the college football regular season, it is easy to look ahead to Nov. 16 and the game between Baylor and Texas Tech, to be played on a neutral field at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, as the game that could decide the Big 12 championship. At this stage of the season, and with both teams still undefeated and ranked among the nation’s top 20 teams, it is easy to see why people are already beginning to point toward the Nov. 16 showdown between the Bears and Red Raiders as one of the key games, if not the key game, of the season in the Big 12.
In my opinion, that thinking is way too premature. There is still a lot of football to be played, and Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will have a lot to say about what the standings look like a month down the road.
Baylor probably has the best chance of being undefeated when it meets Texas Tech on Nov. 16. The Bears are at home next weekend against Iowa State and then travel to Kansas before getting a week off ahead of a Thursday night game Nov. 7 with Oklahoma on national television.
Texas Tech, on the other hand, travels to West Virginia (3-3, 1-2) this weekend and follows that up with a game at Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1) on Oct. 26 before hosting Oklahoma State (4-1, 1-1) on Nov. 7.
And don’t forget about Texas. The Longhorns are 3-0 in the Big 12, and their next two games are at TCU (3-3, 1-2) and at home against Kansas (2-3, 0-2). It’s not at all inconceivable that the Horns could be 5-0 when they host Oklahoma State Nov. 16, followed by a visit from Texas Tech one week later.
At the beginning of the season, a number of the experts felt that the Bedlam matchup between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Dec. 7 could be the game that decides the Big 12 crown. And guess what, it could still be with all the games of high importance and interest that come before it.
Chances are the Big 12 standings are going to look a whole lot different seven weeks out than they do right now.
Big 12 Week 8 Power Rankings
(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)
Baylor Bears (1) - Baylor came back down to Earth last weekend, but still appears to have the best offense and a strong-enough defense to hold off all suitors.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (2) - Oct. 26 visit to Oklahoma will prove how good the Red Raiders really are this season. Get by OU, and all bets are off.
Texas Longhorns (5) - Showed Saturday how good this team can be when it resally wants to step it up. Still a question, however, how sustainable this will be.
Oklahoma Sooners (2) - Horrible showing against archrival Texas. It would be a mistake, though, for others to underestimate the Sooners moving forward.
Oklahoma State Cowboys (4) - If it weren’t for losing at West Virginia, the Cowboys would be pressing Baylor for the top spot. TCU will post tough test for the OSU offense on Saturday.
TCU Horned Frogs (6) - Tremendous defense, but the offense is very inconsistent and mistake prone. Not a good formula for sustained success.
Kansas State Wildcats (7) - Now that three of its four hardest conference opponents are out of the way, look for Wildcats to quickly start winning again.
West Virginia Mountaineers (8) - This up-and-down Mountaineer crew is likely to be down more than up the rest of the way.
Iowa State Cyclones (9) - Strong showing at Texas Tech, but a defense that gives up almost 30 points a game isn’t going to produce many wins.
Kansas Jayhawks (10) - Kansas looked better against TCU than it did at home vs. Texas Tech, but will be hard pressed to end three-year league losing streak.