Mike Gundy is headed into Week 13 riding high in this week’s Big 12 Power Poll as the No. 1 ranked team in the conference with Baylor for the moment holding the No 2 spot and Oklahoma at No. 3 after their listless offensive performance in Waco.
When Alex Grinch was hired with a $1.8 million dollar salary to somewhat restore order to the Sooner defense…the thought was that if OU could just hold teams to 24 points a game then surely Lincoln Riley’s new world offense would top that every week of the college football season.
Truth be told…without Ronnie Perkins, Tre Norwood, and Trey Brown this OU defense isn’t nearly what it was last season and the offense has been all over the radar screen.
Twice in this Big 12 season so far OU’s offense hasn’t cracked the twenty point barrier with two of the best defenses in the conference still in front of them.
With all the drama which went on with OU and Texas announcing their decision to leave the conference before the season…what has transpired since when OU roared back from a 28-7 hole in the Red River Rivalry is a wonderul conference race to see who emerges as the two teams in Jerry’s World on the first week-end of December.
The two survivors won’t be Georgia vs. Alabama, but for sheer college football enjoyment this Big 12 race is going to be fun.
The wacky Big 12 where the conference lost two teams then gained four teams then lost Gary Patterson and Matt Wells from the coaching ranks has been a roller coaster trip.
For a conference which used to give us ping pong scoring marathons like 62-59 a funny thing has happened. The quarterback play throughout the league has dropped significantly and teams like O State, Baylor, and Iowa State have all for the most part played defensive football like back in the Big 8 days of Switzer and Osborne. These three teams actually tackle opposing ball carriers and harass enemy quarterbacks.
Who saw defense coming the Big 12’s way back in 2019?
Track meets for the most part have been rare. Baylor just held OU to 14 points which was the lowest offensive output in the Lincoln Riley era.
O State has the third ranked defense nationally and a back seven which is loaded with experienced players who stayed that extra year due to Covid. O State would be even deeper in their back seven if they hadn’t lost safety Tre Sterling to wrist surgery earlier in the season.
Plus, O State rather than OU has gotten more out of the transfer portal this season with running back Jaylen Warren emerging as one of the best backs in the conference.
Iowa State at 6-4 has been a downer, but keep this in mind as the Cyclones head to Norman this Saturday…they more than any club in this league have had Lincoln Riley’s number the past three years and came within a play of beating the Sooners in last year’s Big 12 Championship Game.
Bryce Hall started slowly for Coach Matt Campbell this season, but of late has re-emerged as perhaps the league’s best running back as Bijuan Robinson is done for the season due to injury.
In the last four games in this series the Cyclones are 2-2, have won once at Norman and had a chance to win at the end in all four games.
The Big 12 has three potentially wonderful games on tap this Saturday starting with OU as a 3.5 home favorite over the Cyclones in what is probably a must win game for the Sooners to advance to Arlington.
The second game of the day is a dead even pick ’em in Vegas right now with 8-2 Baylor at 7-3 Kansas State. Talk about a trap game for the Baylor Bears. This should be a great Big 12 game.
BTW…OU’s 37-31 win at K State is resume wise OU’s best win of the season to date. The win over Texas isn’t resume worthy. When a team gives up 57 points at home to Kansas and it isn’t in a basketball game…that team becomes non-resume worthy in my polling system.
Then in the third game we get my No. 5 team in my national poll the Oklahoma State Cowboys with that defense listed as a 10.5 road favorite in crazy Lubbock over the Red Raiders.
The last time the Cowboys played in Lubbock in 2019 Spencer Sanders turned the ball over five times and O State lost 45-35.
But of late these last three games…Spencer Sanders has been turnover efficient and as a result the Cowboys have taken thier offensive game up a notch.
So here we are with a new Big 12 that plays some defense, has some great running backs, and some murky quarterback play at times from O State, Baylor, OU, and Iowa State.
Maybe Joe C and the new OU head boss should see if they could stay in the Big 12 and send football cellar dwellers Texas and Kansas to the SEC West instead.
I’m sure Porter Moser and Mike Boynton would go for that.