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Baylor Football

Big 12 Football Power Rankings: Championship Week

December 1, 2022
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The regular season is over, and this Saturday, a Big 12 Champion will be crowned at AT&T Stadium in Arlington in an all-purple showdown. However, one participant has already proven perfect against the entire league. 

Meanwhile, six other schools sit back and await Sunday bowl announcements, and the two outliers begin the regrouping process with no bowl practices and plenty of extra time on their hands. One of those two has already hired a new AD and ensured the return of their head coach next season, answering the conference's biggest hot seat question. The other seems to be at a crossroads with a head coach whose name has cooled significantly in carousel talk compared to the last couple of cycles. 

Here are my Big 12 Power Rankings entering conference championship weekend. 

1. TCU (12-0, 9-0)

W 62-14 vs. Iowa State 

The best team in the Big 12 beat up the worst team in the Big 12 last Saturday in Fort Worth to secure a perfect regular season. I respect how TCU dismantled Iowa State and allowed their fanbase to kick back, relax, and enjoy a carefree conference clean sweep at home. In some years, 9-0 would've been enough to earn a title, but the Frogs must now defeat Kansas State a second time to reign supreme as Big 12 Champs. The Frogs seem destined for the College Football Playoff win or lose — barring an astronomical blowout defeat. But, the CFP committee doesn't exactly hold the public's trust or non-blue blood's best interest in mind, so better to win and leave no doubts. The Frogs also cleaned up in postseason conference awards earning Coach of the Year (Dykes), Offensive Player of the Year (Duggan), Defensive Newcomer of the Year (Hodges), and Special Teams Player of the Year (Davis) superlatives. 

Up Next: BIG 12 Championship Game vs. #10 Kansas State // Saturday, 11:00 am, ABC

2. KANSAS STATE (9-3, 7-2) 

W 47-27 vs. Kansas

The Sunflower Showdown was a significant success, leading to another win over rival Kansas and a spot in Saturday's Big 12 title game. This time around, the Wildcats know Will Howard is 100% their guy at quarterback and can hopefully keep him 100% available from start to finish. Simply being in this position proves that the K-State program is back to prominence and in good hands with Chris Kliemann at the helm. Outside the big game, Felix Anudike-Uzomah won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year honors this week. In addition, OG/OT Cooper Beebee earned the Offensive Lineman of the Year award.  

Up Next: BIG 12 Championship Game vs. #3 TCU // Saturday, 11:00 am, ABC

3. TEXAS (8-4, 6-3) 

W 38-27 vs. Baylor 

Bijan Robinson and the Longhorns ran all over Baylor in the second half to earn an eighth win, but unfortunately for them, K-State's victory over KU fizzled UT's slim Big 12 title hopes. Regardless, Texas has some genuine momentum, which will only grow entering the signing periods and offseason. Especially with a three-game improvement over Steve Sarkisian's first year, and with another game remaining, a chance at nine wins after missing a bowl in his debut season. Although it seems like a formality Bijan will declare for the NFL post-bowl — and win the Doak Walker Award along the way — UT did see numerous departures this week. By far, the most notable is backup QB Hudson Card, who instantly becomes one of the hottest commodities in college football free agency upon entering the transfer portal. With the move, he's now in line to earn a starting job at a major program and a seven-figure deal. 

Up Next: TBD Bowl Game 

4. TEXAS TECH (6-6, 5-4)

W 51-48 (OT) vs. Oklahoma 

What a debut season for Joey McGuire in Lubbock. Seven wins — including OU and Texas — with the potential for eight thanks to an all-important bowl season. The Red Raiders finished just on the outside of the medal stand in Big 12 play with a 5-4 record, thanks to a thrilling come-from-behind overtime victory against the Sooners. Tech fans rushed the field to close the regular season, and if year one is any indication, they'll have plenty more to celebrate under McGuire. 2022 was foundational, but expectations-wise basically a mulligan year from a fan and administration standpoint, and the Red Raiders could win eight games. 

Up Next: TBD Bowl Game 

5. BAYLOR (6-6, 4-5) 

L 38-27 @ #23 Texas 

Make it three straight losses — to Top 25 teams, no less — to close the regular season and finish in the bottom half of the conference. Big picture, this was a wholly unsatisfying season and should lead to a productive and transformative new year for the program under Dave Aranda. In the immediate future, they need to close strong in recruiting and figure out some roster questions before hitting the portal hard, like everyone else in the country. One question answered this week continued the recent trend of less-than-positive news as QB Kyron Drones entered his name into the transfer portal to explore other opportunities. He could return, but I wouldn't bank on it with all the bank flooding the player market. For now, the Bears catch their breath and await their bowl announcement. 

Up Next: TBD Bowl Game 

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

6. OKLAHOMA STATE (7-5, 4-5) 

L 24-19 vs. West Virginia 

A week after falling short in Bedlam -- and Spencer Sanders was sidelined with injuries again -- the Cowboys embarrassingly ended the regular season losing to West Virginia in Stillwater. On the bright side, safety Kendal Daniels won Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, and the school announced plans for significant renovations and upgrades of Boone Pickens Stadium. Nevertheless, as they begin bowl preparations, the Cowboys have many questions, including: Does Spencer Sanders play in an OSU uniform again? 

Up Next: TBD Bowl Game 

7. KANSAS (6-6, 3-6) 

L 47-27 @ #12 Kansas State 

After a 5-0 start, the Jayhawks dropped six of their last seven, including their final three games, most recently the Sunflower Showdown rivalry, unable to ruin the conference title hopes of rival KSU. Still, life is good in Lawrence, with bowl eligibility earned and the extension of Lance Leipold fully revealed this week. Part of his deal basically guarantees there will be significant upgrades to the team's stadium and facilities. Jalon Daniels and Devin Neal 

Up Next: TBD Bowl Game 

8. OKLAHOMA (6-6, 3-6)  

L 51-48 (OT) @ Texas Tech 

The Sooners suffered a genuinely awful loss last weekend against Tech in Lubbock, blowing 17-0 and 24-6 first-half leads. As they have all too often, the Sooners overwhelmed early, only to wither as the game progressed. There are numerous Yakety sax moments for this program in Brent Venables' first year, perhaps none more so than QB Dillon Gabriel getting injured on the second play of overtime thanks to a trick play and crushing hit. Gabriel needs better backup if he returns next season, which is not guaranteed if rumors this week are any indication. The defense is atrocious right now, so they'll undoubtedly benefit from the extra bowl practices. A fascinating offseason is upcoming in Norman. 

Up Next: TBD Bowl Game 

9. WEST VIRGINIA (5-7, 3-6) 

W 24-19 @ Oklahoma State 

With no bowl game possible, the Mountaineers closed a disappointing season with a surprising win in rainy Stillwater against a Spencer Sanders-less Pokes squad. But the big news for this program is off the field as the school hired new Athletic Director Wren Baker — a Mack Rhoades guy — from North Texas. Not only that, but within hours of his hire, Baker confirmed Neal Brown would remain as head coach next season, much to the disappointment of some vocal WVU fans. But what's the smarter play: 1) Jumping into a thinning coaching market right before National Signing Day and the portal opening? Or 2) taking a moment to catch their breath, let the contract shed another year, and leave no doubt nor stone unturned when Baker inevitably begins a search for his guy next offseason? Neal Brown, in the meantime, can fight for his job by winning (many) football games, and not in the weirdly erratic way they did this season.

Up Next: The Offseason 

10. IOWA STATE (4-8, 1-8)  

L 62-14 @ #4 TCU 

How bad was Iowa State's 2022? Matt Campbell is almost an afterthought in this year's coaching carousel. Of course, part of that lack of scuttlebutt is the schools' hiring, their preferences, Campbell's preferences, and other candidates. But best believe that's also a product of the awful season in Ames. ISU knew they couldn't make a bowl game heading into Fort Worth last week, but they did have the motivation to play spoiler and become the only blemish on TCU's perfect resume. But instead of putting up a fight, they were obliterated and knocked out by the end of the first quarter, with TCU leading 24-0. Already set to lose important names like Xavier Hutchinson and Will McDonald, the Cyclones are officially losing junior DE MJ Anderson to the NFL Draft after the former Minnesota transfer declared on Wednesday. 

Up Next: The Offseason 

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Big 12 Football Power Rankings: Championship Week

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