Tramel: Big 12 football power rankings after a miserable Saturday
Big 12 football has had some dark days.
The day the College Football Playoff committee jumped Ohio State over both TCU and Baylor.
The day Texas A&M knocked Kansas State out of the 1998 national title game and the day OU knocked Missouri out of the 2007 national title game.
The day Nebraska fled for the Big Ten and the day Texas A&M fled for the SEC.
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But has the Big 12 ever had a worse day than Saturday, when it went 0-for-the-Sun Belt?
Iowa State lost to Louisiana-Lafayette 31-14. Kansas State lost to Arkansas State 35-31. Kansas lost to Coastal Carolina 35-23.
In 76 matchups between schools now in the Big 12 and Sun Belt, the Big 12 had a 70-6 record. Here are the defeats: Baylor at North Texas 2003, Missouri at Troy 2004, OSU at Troy 2007, Arkansas State to Texas A&M 2008, Kansas State at Louisiana-Lafayette 2009, Kansas to Coastal Carolina 2019.
Then came Saturday. And none of the Sun Belt victories were a fluke. Where are all those vaunted Big 12 offenses? Iowa State had 303 total yards. Kansas State had 374. Kansas had 367.
The losses cripple an already-shaky Big 12 reputation. The Big 12 has had a putrid record against fellow Power 5 opponents in recent years. Now, the Big 12 is 0-3 against the Sun Belt, without even playing against Appalachian State, the Sun Belt’s best program.
This hurts the Big 12’s playoff hopes, if we actually get to a post-season in this pandemic-stricken season. A 10-1 OU or a 10-1 Texas or a 10-1 OSU likely still would be included in Football Four. But 9-2? Probably not, even if there’s no Big Ten or Pac-12 contender.
A conference that goes 0-3 against the Sun Belt can’t pretend to have laurels, much less rest on them.
The best path now for the Big 12 is for the Sooners, Longhorns and Cowboys to dominate the rest of the league and sort out the rest amongst themselves.
Of course, there’s a chance for more embarrassment. We now head for Big 12/American Conference showdowns. This Saturday, OSU hosts Tulsa and Baylor hosts Houston. TCU still hopes to reschedule its home game against SMU.
A sweep of the American would tend to some of the wounds inflicted by the Sun Belt. A loss in any of those games would only exacerbate the Big 12’s problem.
Let’s get to the first weekly rankings of Big 12 teams, and remember, I rank teams based only on what they’ve done. Not what I think they will do, but on what they’ve done.
1. Texas 1-0: Here’s the state of Big 12 football. Seven Big 12 games have been played, and only the Longhorns have a victory over a I-A opponent. Even if it was Texas-El Paso (59-3).
2. Oklahoma 1-0: In the same way that Texas is a dubious No. 1, the Sooners -- 48-0 victors over Missouri State -- are a dubious No. 2.
3. Oklahoma State 0-0: Using my criteria, it wouldn’t be a shock to find the Cowboys No. 1 next week.
4. Baylor 0-0: College football scheduling is funny. It takes years, sometimes, to get a game scheduled a decade in advance. It took less than 24 hours for Houston to agree to play at Baylor on Saturday, and for Big Fox to scoop up the game for its prime 11 a.m. kickoff. All after Memphis had to postpone the Cougars.
5. TCU 0-0: Funny. Remember a couple of weeks ago, when we thought TCU-SMU was the Big 12’s best chance for opening-week embarrassment?
6. West Virginia 1-0: The Mountaineers did to Eastern Kentucky (56-10) what cross-state Marshall did to the Eastern (59-0). So no reason for excitement yet.
7. Kansas State 0-1: K-State has a history of losing games it shouldn’t lose. Navy in the Liberty Bowl last season. At Vanderbilt in 2017. North Dakota State 2013. Now Arkansas State.
8. Iowa State 0-1: I pointed out last week that the Cyclones have routinely started slow under Matt Campbell, but their lack of offense Saturday was ridiculous.
9. Kansas 0-1: The Jayhawks looked listless in getting down 28-0 to Coastal Carolina.
10. Texas Tech 1-0: Losing to a Sun Belt team is not nearly as egregious as needing a 2-point conversion stop to beat Houston Baptist 35-33. Houston Baptist is 6-44 in Southland Conference games since the start of 2014.