The Big 12 Power Rankings after Week 8:
1. Baylor (previous ranking: 1): We don’t yet know the full extent of QB Seth Russell's neck injury, but what a crushing setback for one of the Big 12’s most talented players. It’s easy to overlook the fact that Baylor has had incredibly good fortune with the health of its quarterbacks ever since Robert Griffin III’s torn ACL in 2009. Good thing this bye week buys more time for freshman Jarrett Stidham to prepare, because the Bears are about to go on the road for three of their next four games.
2. TCU (2): The Horned Frogs finally got a chance to exhale and rest up before a Thursday night game against West Virginia to kick off their roller-coaster final month. Good timing, too, to get banged-up players like KaVontae Turpin healthy for the stretch run. Perhaps the most important development for TCU this weekend: Losses by Utah and Florida State certainly don’t hurt the Big 12’s chance of sending two teams to the College Football Playoff.
3. Oklahoma State (3): Forget the football. Oklahoma State should be proud to have Mike Gundy as a leader of young men. He demonstrated exceptional character and perspective in the midst of another horrific, tragic day for his community. So did defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, who admitted he would’ve been OK with postponing the game against Kansas. Oklahoma State's coaches and players were hurting and still are, but they handled a truly devastating day with class and grace.
4. Oklahoma (4): The Sooners definitely got their groove back. The Samaje Perine-Joe Mixon one-two punch was unstoppable in Oklahoma's 63-27 win over Texas Tech, and you have to give offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley some credit for letting them carry the load and tempering what was asked of quarterback Baker Mayfield on a day with some extra pressure and emotion with Mayfield facing his former team. Picking off Patrick Mahomes four times was another great sign of growth for this defense.
5. Texas (6): It’s simple and not always pretty, but what Texas is doing these days is working. Charlie Strong is finally developing a tough team up front on both sides of the ball. And you have to applaud Tyrone Swoopes, who has embraced his new role as a power rusher (five TDs) and just wants to help. Texas’ defense continues to gain confidence. This is a frisky team that could win four in a row.
6. Texas Tech (5): Texas Tech has lost to three of the Big 12’s best teams, which wasn’t unexpected. But its defense has given up 60 points per game and nearly 8 yards per play in those losses to TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma. Since they’ve already played Iowa State and Kansas, it’s safe to say we’ll find out what these Red Raiders are really made of from here on out. An upset of Oklahoma State on Halloween could be a serious turning point.
7. West Virginia (7): As I wrote on Friday: The first month of West Virginia’s conference schedule is arguably the toughest in Big 12 history. And yet, there’s still a reasonable path to bowl eligibility. In fact, ESPN's FPI projects that WVU will be a favorite in each of its final five games. One trend that must change: The Mountaineers have gone 1-3 in November every year since joining the Big 12.
8. Kansas State (8): We knew this would be a rebuilding year for K-State, but it’s been harder than expected. When your quarterbacks are completing 40 percent of their passes against Big 12 defenses, pulling off comebacks is a tall task. The Wildcats will dig deep during their bye week and have plenty to address before taking on Baylor.
9. Iowa State (9): Combine the Cyclones’ first half against TCU with their second half against Baylor and you’d have a pretty good team. Holding these Bears to 108 yards (3.9 per play) over the final two quarters Saturday and mounting a 20-0 run definitely ain’t easy, especially at McLane Stadium. It’s time to see what Joel Lanning can bring to the table as QB1.
10. Kansas (10): The Jayhawks racked up 100 yards in penalties, had a botched and blocked punt returned for a touchdown, and gave up a safety and two interceptions against Oklahoma State. "We had a little bit of everything," Kansas coach David Beaty said afterward. Do that against a top-15 team, and the final result is never going to be pretty.