Baylor Football

Massive Shake Up In Final Regular Season Big 12 Power Rankings

December 2, 2021

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And then there were two. On Saturday at AT&T Stadium, a memorable Big 12 season comes to a close with the crowning of a champion when Baylor and Oklahoma State converge in Arlington. 

It was an exciting final weekend, punctuated by an all-time classic Bedlam, a colossal coaching shakeup, a new hire in Fort Worth, and plenty more. 

Ahead of the main event between the Bears and Pokes, here are my Big 12 power rankings entering Championship weekend. 

1. OKLAHOMA STATE — W 37-33 vs. #10 Oklahoma

Beating Oklahoma last Saturday may lead to the most fabulous week in Oklahoma State Football history. It started with an instant classic win over a top-ten rival, knocking them out of the Playoff and Big 12 Championship Game rematch. Then watching said rival lose their elite head coach hours after the brutal loss in a move arguably more shocking than OU and Texas' SEC exit. Now, the Pokes can win a Big 12 title and perhaps book their spot in the Playoff. That was a heavyweight win in Bedlam. 

Up Next: Big 12 Championship vs. #9 Baylor, Saturday, 11:00 am 

2. BAYLOR — W 27-24 vs. Texas Tech

The Bears are headed to their second Big 12 Championship Game appearance in three years, following a sluggish but ultimately satisfying and crucial win over Texas Tech. If Gerry Bohanon remains hobbled, QB Blake Shapen made some big throws and could be looking at a second-straight start. Whoever is QB will have their work cut out for them. This game is a green and golden opportunity for the program, but the team will have to play at their best across the board and find the missing energy levels last week. I think the atmosphere at AT&T will help in that area. 

Up Next: Big 12 Championship vs. #5 Oklahoma State, Saturday, 11:00 am 

3. IOWA STATE — W 48-14 vs. TCU

Despite a historic number of elite job openings this offseason, Matt Campbell has defied the public's expectations and remained in Ames through them all, that is, unless he's the big bombshell to close out this year's carousel. Rumor has it he's interviewed, or will, for the Oklahoma vacancy, so until that job gets filled, Cyclones' fans won't get a whole night's sleep. But, if he stays, that's excellent news for the conference. RB Breece Hall set the new NCAA record for consecutive games with a rushing touchdown as ISU walloped Max Duggan and TCU. 

Up Next: All eyes on Oklahoma's hire and a TBD bowl game. Best wishes to their AD Jamie Pollard who announced his battle with testicular cancer this week. 

4. KANSAS STATE — L 22-17 @ Texas

Really? The Wildcats couldn't land the Big 12's 2021 finishing blow on the Longhorns and instead closed the regular season with back-to-back bad losses. The 7-5 'Cats were far too dependent on QB Skylar Thompson, and it's a shame he couldn't see their mission through. However, in Thompson's absence, Kliemann also didn't coach his best game. 

Up Next: Rumor has it there could be some staff shakeup, but the Wildcats await their bowl destination and a chance to gain back some momentum. 

5. TEXAS TECH — L 27-24 @ #8 Baylor 

The Red Raiders gave Baylor a handful of trouble in Waco and had a chance to send the game into overtime but couldn't nail the clutch kick this time around. The current coaching situation is unique. New HC Joey McGuire is busy building the program and staff into his vision behind the scenes and on the recruiting trail. McGuire had just announced interim HC Sonny Cumbie would be his OC, but instead, Cumbie is now the new head coach at Louisiana Tech and already at work in Ruston, although he'll return to coach the Red Raiders in their bowl game later this month. In his absence, RB coach DeAndre Smith is now "Program Leader" and running their schedule and practices. Got all that? McGuire also hired Baylor analyst Josh Bookbinder as secondary coach and Baylor Director of Football Ops Quentin Jordan for the same role in Lubbock. 

Up Next: The most prominent topic is Joey McGuire finishing out his first staff as head coach. While turnover continues, the Red Raiders await their bowl announcement and eventually the fully completed transition to the McGuire era. 

6. WEST VIRGINIA — W 34-28 @ Kansas

The Mountaineers squeaked out a crucial win in Lawrence to earn bowl eligibility. That's big for coach Neal Brown, but the progress has been a little slow. 

Up Next: A QB from the transfer portal and a TBD bowl game. 

7. KANSAS — L 34-28 vs. West Virginia

The Jayhawks nearly pulled off a fun win at home against the Mountaineers. Lance Leipold's bunch continues to make strides and certainly could make an even more significant jump this offseason. Leipold wasted little time firing their DL and CB coaches, both Les Miles' leftovers, and quickly replacing them with in-house hires.

Up Next: An entire offseason with Leipold, recruiting, transfer portal, etc. The Jayhawks finished 2-10 but got better and showed more promise than at any time in the last several years. 

8. TEXAS — W 22-17 vs. Kansas State

The Longhorns escaped a last-place finish in the standings thanks to a home win over Kansas State that saw RB Roschon Johnson running some Wildcat and putting the offense on his shoulders. The Longhorns are not bowl-eligible, so the early offseason beckons. The jury remains out on Steve Sarkisian, but he's afforded a chance to regroup and retool like everyone else. Just look at Dave Aranda and Baylor to see how a few corrections can make a world of difference from year one to year two. 

 Up Next: No postseason, but no one is rejoicing more than Texas over the Lincoln Riley-USC news. 

9. TCU — L 48-14 @ Iowa State

The Frogs got beat up in Ames, ending their season and bowl hopes at five wins. But, the splashy news this week was the hire of Sonny Dykes as TCU's new head coach and successor to Gary Patterson. Familiar names on Dykes' staff include Ra'Shaad Samples and Bryan Carrington in recruiting, and Kaz Kazadi in S&C. RB Zach Evans has entered the transfer portal, for now, to the surprise of absolutely no one. 

Up Next: The Frogs fell short of bowl status, so it's all about the offseason and the start of the Sonny Dykes era. The staff is almost complete, and a vital hire looms at the defensive coordinator spot. They're going all-in on DFW influence and recruiting. TCU will also try and put the press on Zach Evans in hopes of a return. 

10. OKLAHOMA — L 37-33 @ #7 Oklahoma State

It has been one of the worst weeks in Oklahoma Football history. A heartbreaking loss in Bedlam, no shot at the Big 12 title, but above all, the shockingly secretive and abrupt loss of Lincoln Riley to USC. OU's Benedict Arnold has already brought some of their staff with him, but most importantly, he's already taken a lot of their top recruits. The combination of decommitments, verbal flips to Riley's Trojans, and transfer portal announcements have created a tsunami of bad news for OU and its roster, unlike anything Norman has seen in decades. Kudos to Bob Stoops for being a legend and stepping up to the plate. It will be fascinating to see who they hire, but the longer it takes, the more humorous it will be to watch a fanbase unaccustomed to coaching searches lose their collective minds.  

Up Next: An all-important head coaching hire and certainly more fallout from Lincoln Riley's departure. Also, a Bob Stoops-led bowl team. 

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Massive Shake Up In Final Regular Season Big 12 Power Rankings

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