The state of Oklahoma’s 1-1 record in Week 5 prompted a change at the top of the Big 12 Power Rankings.
But it also signaled we have no clue how the league race is going to shake out. Preseason conference favorite Oklahoma State lost 30-21 to West Virginia in a sloppy game in what appeared to be one of the Big 12’s weaker teams.
Oklahoma scored the biggest win for the Big 12 by defeating Notre Dame 35-21, but it’s not clear how much stock we should put in a win over a team that lost to Michigan and slogged its way through wins over Michigan State and Purdue.
For now, though, it’s enough to put OU at the top of the Big 12 for at least a week or at least until Baylor picks up a win against a quality opponent.
Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0): Oklahoma made its statement in the 35-21 win at Notre Dame, ending a seven-game losing streak to the Irish. The run defense was not itself, allowing 220 yards. But the Sooners intercepted three passes and kept the pressure on Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees. The offense is in good hands under Blake Bell, who has completed 49 of 67 passes for 645 yards with six interceptions in his two starts. Why was he second-string in the first two games again? This week: TCU
Baylor (3-0, 0-0): The Bears had their second off week in September, but West Virginia gave Baylor something to think about after shutting down Oklahoma State. Baylor still leads the nation in yards (751.3) and points (69.7) per game by a comfortable margin. This week: West Virginia
Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1): Is it time to be concerned for the Oklahoma State offense. In games against West Virginia and Mississippi State, the Cowboys scored only 21 points each. Neither team is a defensive juggernaut. The Mountaineers were the second team this season to hold Oklahoma State to fewer than 3 yards per carry. It had happened only twice in 35 games before this season. Quarterback J.W. Walsh also struggled, completing 20 of 47 passes with two interceptions, but Mike Gundy never went to Clint Chelf on his bench. This week: Kansas State
Texas Tech (4-0, 1-0): Despite being undefeated, Texas Tech still needs to prove it belongs among the realistic conference contenders. Taking care of business against Kansas will help. Michael Brewer, the Red Raiders’ projected starting quarterback in the preseason, is nearing a return from injury, so that could make the next week interesting in Lubbock. This week: at Kansas
TCU (2-2, 0-1): The Horned Frogs’ offense has looked lost for most of the season, but it came alive in a 41-point second half against SMU. After recording five plays of 10 or more yards in the first half (one resulting in a fumble), the Horned Frogs had 10 plays of 10 yards or more in the second, not including a 51-yard punt return and a 45-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on an onside kick. With defensive end Devonte Fields hurt, TCU still managed to force five turnovers and sack SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert seven times. This week: at Oklahoma
Texas (2-2, 1-0): A win, an off week and a trip to Iowa State. That’s how things calm down around Austin. But don’t look now, the Cyclones just discovered a run game. This week: at Iowa State (Thursday)
West Virginia (3-2, 1-1): The Mountaineers found something that worked with 21 changes on the depth chart against Oklahoma State. The defense has been one of the most improved units in the Big 12, and it appears the Mountaineers finally have their quarterback in Clint Trickett. Special teams, though, remain a major liability. Some answers, though, are better than none going into a game against the most explosive offense in the country. This week: at Baylor
Kansas State (2-2, 0-1): Kansas State spent an off week recovering from the loss to Texas and looking for leadership. This week’s opponent may be just as wounded. This week: at Oklahoma State
Iowa State (1-2, 0-0): The Cyclones had their best game of the season in a win over Tulsa on Friday as Iowa State’s run game was not a major liability for the first time all season. The 434 yards of total offense was a season high and was 166 more than the last time Iowa State faced Tulsa on Dec. 31 in the Liberty Bowl. This week: Texas (Thursday)
Kansas (2-1, 0-0): Two bad signs for Kansas: The only FBS team the Jayhawks beat this season, Louisiana Tech, lost 35-16 at home to Army. And the team that beat Kansas this season, Rice, needed a fourth-quarter rally to beat FAU at home. This week: Texas Tech
Big 12 Week 5 Recap and Awards
Offensive player of the week: Blake Bell, Oklahoma
The Sooners defense set the tone with two early interceptions against Notre Dame, but Bell was key in preserving the 35-21 win. Bell was stuffed on a couple of “Belldozer” short yardage situations, but he still finished 22-of-30 for 232 yards and two touchdowns in his first career road start. He also rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries.
Defensive player of the week: Sam Carter, TCU
The safety Carter was all over the field in an impressive defensive effort against SMU despite the absence of star defensive end Devonte Fields. Carter finished with five tackles, two interceptions and forced fumble and a sack in a 48-17 win.
Team of the week: Oklahoma
Who knows how a win at Notre Dame will look at the end of the season, but for now, it’s the best the Big 12 has. Oklahoma’s win in South Bend was the Big 12’s first over a ranked opponent, though the Irish won’t be ranked after the loss. The Sooners picked up the best non-conference win for the league in a game that was rarely in doubt. OU had three first-half interceptions and then protected the lead with 212 rushing yards
Freshman of the week: Ty Slanina, TCU
In a quiet week for Big 12 rookies, Slanina stands out. The freshman from East Bernard, Texas, caught three passes for 63 yards against SMU, including the 20-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to take a lead.
Coordinator of the week: Keith Patterson, West Virginia
The West Virginia offense is a work in progress to put it kindly, but the defense is vastly improved since last season. Oklahoma State amassed 433 yards against the Mountaineers, but West Virginia forced three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble), returning one pick for a touchdown in the 30-21 win. West Virginia held Oklahoma State to 6 of 20 on third down and turned in a successful goal-line stand in the fourth quarter against a team that converted all 15 of its red zone opportunities to touchdowns.
• Oklahoma beat Notre Dame for the first time in eight tries. The Sooners last beat Notre Dame in 1956.
• West Virginia started its third quarterback of the season in Clint Trickett. The Florida State transfer completed 24 of 49 passes for 310 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions but still looked like the best Mountaineers quarterback this year.
• In a special teams disaster, kickers in the West Virginia-Oklahoma State game went a combined 3 of 7, including misses for 23 and 34 yards and a blocked attempt. West Virginia’s special teams were particularly bad, losing five yards on three punt returns and amassing an average of 9.7 yards on three kickoff returns.
• TCU had four interceptions against SMU, giving the Horned Frogs nine interceptions in two seasons against the Mustangs and nine picks in the last three games of 2013.
• TCU’s 31 points in the fourth quarter against SMU was the most in a fourth quarter by any FBS team this season.
• In Friday’s 38-21 win over Tulsa, Iowa State finally found a threat in the run game in back Aaron Wimberly. The junior college transfer carried 19 times for 137 yards, the most for a Cyclones tailback since Sept. 1, 2012.
• Iowa State was in the right place at the right time by recovering three fumbles, including two by sophomore defensive end Nick Kron.