By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 13 Big 12 Power Rankings
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1. Oklahoma State (10-1) – The Cowboys had a bye on Saturday and return to action against rival Oklahoma this week. The off week came at a good time for Oklahoma State, especially after the Nov. 18 loss to Iowa State. Although the Cowboys’ national title hopes are likely over, there is still plenty to play for. With a win over the Sooners, Oklahoma State will clinch a BCS bid – the first in program history. A loss to Oklahoma would likely send the Cowboys to the Cotton Bowl.
2. Oklahoma (9-2) – It wasn’t the cleanest performance for the Sooners, but they found a way to earn a 26-6 victory over Iowa State. Losing receiver Ryan Broyles has clearly had an effect on the offense. Jaz Reynolds also missed Saturday’s game due to a suspension, leaving Dejuan Miller and Kenny Stills as the team’s top two receivers. Quarterback Landry Jones has not thrown a touchdown pass in the last two games, while tossing three picks. Oklahoma will have a chance to win the Big 12 crown next week, as it travels to Stillwater to take on rival Oklahoma State. Despite the personnel losses on offense, the Sooners won’t be an easy out for the Cowboys.
3. Kansas State (9-2) – Although a bye week before the last game of the season isn’t ideal, it probably came at a good time for the Wildcats. Quarterback Collin Klein has been banged up and practiced little over the last two weeks. However, the down time should give the junior quarterback time to heal and return 100 percent for the finale against Iowa State. Kansas State is still in the mix for a BCS bowl, but is likely ticketed for the Cotton or Alamo Bowl.
4. Baylor (8-3) – No Robert Griffin? No problem. Griffin was knocked out of the game late in the first half with a concussion, forcing Nick Florence to end his redshirt season for the second half against Texas Tech. Florence completed 9 of 12 throws for 160 yards and two scores, leading the Bears to a 66-42 blowout win over the Red Raiders. Running back Terrance Ganaway also delivered, rushing for 257 yards and three scores on 43 attempts. Baylor has one remaining regular season game, as it hosts Texas on Saturday. If the Bears can knock off the Longhorns, they will have their first nine-win season since 1986.
5. Missouri (7-5) – The final chapter – at least for now – in the Border War goes to Missouri. The Tigers rebounded from a slow start to knock off Kansas 24-10 and close out the regular season with a 7-5 record. Saturday’s win against the Jayhawks also saw the return of coach Gary Pinkel to the sideline after a one-game suspension due to an off-the-field incident. Quarterback James Franklin struggled early against Kansas, but also threw for 187 yards and two touchdowns. Missouri will enter the bowl game with a three-game winning streak.
6. Texas (7-5) – Timely. That’s really the only word to describe the Longhorns’ offense in the victory over Texas A&M. With less than three minutes to go, quarterback Case McCoy led Texas into position for the winning score, and kicker Justin Tucker nailed the 40-yard field goal as time expired. The Longhorns finished with just 237 yards, but also got help from the defense with four forced turnovers, including one that was return for a score in the third quarter. Texas still has a ways to go before getting back into Big 12 title contention, but 2011 was a step in the right direction.
7. Texas A&M (6-6) – A disappointing season in College Station came to a close with a heartbreaking 27-25 defeat to Texas. The Aggies took the lead with under three minutes to go, but was unable to get a stop on the Longhorns’ final drive. Running back Cyrus Gray was sidelined with a shoulder injury, but Ben Malena showed flashes of promise with 83 yards on 25 carries. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill did not have a great performance against the Longhorns, throwing for 224 yards and tossing three picks. Although it has been a disappointing year for Texas A&M, head coach Mike Sherman is expected to return in 2012, as the Aggies embark on their inaugural journey in the SEC.
8. Iowa State (6-5) – One week after beating Oklahoma State, the Cyclones were unable to build off the momentum and lost 26-6 to Oklahoma. Iowa State’s defense did a respectable job of keeping the Sooners’ offense in check with four forced turnovers, but the offense was unable to get on track. Quarterback Jared Barnett finished with only 126 passing yards, while Jeff Woody led the ground attack with 59 yards. Iowa State finishes the regular season next Saturday against Kansas State. There’s no question the Cyclones are going bowling, but a win over the Wildcats could probably improve their destination.
9. Texas Tech (5-7) – For the first time since 1992, the Red Raiders finished with a losing record. Saturday’s 66-42 defeat assured Texas Tech of a 5-7 record, along with no postseason trip. Since beating Oklahoma on Oct. 22, the Red Raiders are winless and scored more than 27 points only once. Coach Tommy Tuberville has done a good job of bringing talent into Lubbock, but it has to translate into wins next season. The offense has plenty of weapons, but the defense ranked among the worst in the nation this year.
10. Kansas (2-10) – A dismal year in Lawrence was capped by a 24-10 defeat to rival Missouri. The Jayhawks started the year 2-0, but finished the season with 10 consecutive losses and some of the defeats weren’t close. The dismal close to the year and little progress on the field cost coach Turner Gill his job. The Jayhawks have some reasons to be optimistic next year, as the team has a talented stable of running backs returning. However, the defense will have to show major improvement next year to turn Kansas into a bowl team.