The Big 12 needed some chaos in the SEC to help, but the league landed two teams in the first BCS standings.
The knock on the Big 12 this season has been a lack of elite teams, but that’s not the case this week in terms of ranking and record. With Baylor at No. 8 and Texas Tech at No. 10, the league has two top-10 BCS teams for the first time since Oct. 21, 2012 when Oklahoma and Kansas State were ranked that high.
Whether the Big 12 leaders Baylor and Texas Tech are products of weaker schedules will be determined soon. Baylor’s toughest games start in November, but Texas Tech’s moment is right now when the Red Raiders visit BCS No. 15 Oklahoma.
It’s a marquee game that’s going to either be a signature moment for Texas Tech or a statement that Oklahoma is still in the thick of the conference title race.
Week 9 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC
Big 12 Week 9 Game Power Rankings
All games Eastern, all games on Saturday unless noted.
1. Texas Tech at Oklahoma (3:30, Fox)
The Red Raiders opened the first BCS standings ranked 10th. That alone is a major victory for first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury, but Texas Tech is the lowest ranked undefeated team from an automatic-qualifying conference. The culprit is a lackluster schedule. That changes this weekend when Tech tries to win in Norman on the second consecutive trip. Everything is breaking right for Texas Tech, but Oklahoma has struggled on both sides of the ball. That said, the Sooners remain 6-1 and ranked in the top 15 of the BCS. Oklahoma has been caught out of position on defense at times and struggled defending the run in three of the last four games. Tech may test OU’s wounded front seven, which is missing two starters, but the Sooners also haven’t faced a quality passing game like the Red Raiders’ all season. Oklahoma needs a strong defensive performance to reassert itself in the Big 12 race.
2. Texas at TCU (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
Casey Pachall in inching his way back to playing quarterback for TCU, but it’s not likely to happen this week. TCU needs its former starting QB in the worst way as the offense has struggled mightily this season, especially early. TCU has averaged 4.5 points in the first half against FBS teams this season. The run game hasn’t been much better, averaging 121 yards and 3.5 yards per carry in the last four games. Texas quarterback Case McCoy is coming off the best game of the season, completing 13 of 21 passes for 191 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against Oklahoma. This week, he and his top receiver Mike Davis will face the top cover corner in the Big 12 and potential first-round draft pick Jason Verrett.
3. West Virginia at Kansas State (3:45 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
Despite their 1-6 combined record in the Big 12, West Virginia and Kansas State have proven to be tough outs. But both need wins if they’re going to reach bowl games. Both offenses are starting to find their way after dismal starts to the season. Quarterback Clint Trickett continues to improve for West Virginia, and the run game was steady last week against Texas Tech thanks to the duo of Dreamius Smith and Charles Sims. For Kansas State, Daniel Sams, a dangerous runner, is splitting duties with Jake Waters. If Sams can limit turnovers, he may be K-State's best option.
4. Oklahoma State at Iowa State (noon, Fox Sports local)
The main thing worth watching for Oklahoma State will be moving parts on the Cowboys’ offense. Oklahoma State replaced starting quarterback J.W. Walsh with Clint Chelf after a pair of interceptions last week, reopening the competition for the job. Freshman running back Rennie Childs also gave the lackluster Oklahoma State run game a boost. For Iowa State, the Cyclones are trying to rebound from a 71-7 loss to Baylor and to rediscover some of the magic from the 2011 upset of Oklahoma State in Ames. For his part, Cowboys coach Mike Gundy a bit of an edge hopes his team has. “A lot of seniors made that trip,” Gundy told reporters. “As much as I tell them that doesn't play into it, I hope, deep down, they go up there feeling that something was taken from them last time.”
5. Baylor at Kansas (7 p.m., ESPNU)
The only game in which Baylor starters played into the fourth quarter occurred away from Waco. Playing on the road about the only question mark facing Baylor this season, but Kansas has shown little ability to slow down a team like Baylor this season. Even when the Jayhawks took early leads against Texas Tech and Oklahoma, they managed to lose each game decisively. Kansas’ defense has not been awful this season ranking sixth in the Big 12 in yards per play allowed. Expect that to change.
Big 12 Week 9 Pivotal Players
Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox talk Miami sanctions, the BCS standings and preview Week 9 in this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
Texas Tech’s quarterbacks
Davis Webb has topped 400 yards in two Big 12 wins, but he’s still questionable as a starter if Baker Mayfield returns healthy this week. Either way, Texas Tech will be taking a freshman quarterback into Norman looking for an upset to preserve an undefeated season. Kliff Kingsbury has shown plenty of confidence in his quarterbacks this season. Expect that continue. The Mayfield/Webb duo leads the in passing attempts and completions per game this season and is second in yards per game only to Oregon State.
Blake Bell, Oklahoma
Oklahoma is averaging 22.5 points per game in Big 12 play this season, but it probably will take more than that to beat Texas Tech. Bell has been in a three-game slump, completing 57.3 percent of his passes and averaging 5.1 yards per attempt during that span. OU’s longest play against Kansas was a 49-yard pass from receiver LaColtan Bester to Sterling Shepard.
Gabe Lynn, Oklahoma
Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro is enough of a matchup problem that it’s going to take a handful of Oklahoma defenders to limit his catches, something only a first-half suspension against SMU has done this season. Some of the focus will be on Lynn, a hard-hitting safety, but expect outside linebacker Dominique Alexander, safety Quentin Hayes and nickel back Julian Wilson to all play roles in trying to handle the 6-5, 260-pound junior.
Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson, Kansas State
The pair of Kansas State receivers have missed nearly all of the last two games for the Wildcats, but they are expected to return against West Virginia. The K-State passing game has been lacking all season, but the return of these two should give the Wildcats a boost. Perhaps more of a concern for West Virginia is their contributions in the return game. The Mountaineers’ special teams have been suspect for most of the season.
B.J. Catalon, TCU
Catalon is the Horned Frogs’ most explosive offensive player. If TCU is going to make the Texas defense look like it did back in September, a big game from Catalon would help. The sophomore tailback is become the primary running back getting carries with Waymon James accounting for only 13 carries in the last three games.
Big 12 Week 9 Predictions
Okla St (-13) at Iowa St
Texas Tech (+6.5) at Okla.
West Va. (+10.5) at KState
Baylor (+35) at Kansas
Texas (+2) at TCU