We all knew that Oklahoma had some big challenges coming up from Kansas State, Texas A&M and in its highly anticipated Bedlam Series regular-season finale with Oklahoma State, but no one saw coming what Texas Tech was able to accomplish against the Sooners on Saturday night in Norman, where OU has been virtually unbeatable.
Oklahoma had not lost a game at home since the first game of the 2005 season. Since then 39 straight opponents had come and gone without inflicting a loss on the Sooners on their home field. That all came to a crashing end on Saturday as the Red Raiders pulled off the biggest upset of the weekend in college football and perhaps of the entire season. Tech's 41-38 victory, its first ever on the road against a No. 1-ranked team (USA Today coaches' poll) dropped Oklahoma in the BCS standings from No. 3 all the way down to No. 9, one position back of the Sooners' opponent this Saturday, the surprising Kansas State Wildcats.
As a result of Oklahoma's first loss of the season, the Sooners' hated in-state rival Oklahoma State took over the top rung in the conference championship hunt, and coach Bill Snyder's Wildcats moved in right behind the Cowboys. There could be further shakeup in the Big 12 leaderboard in the week's ahead, with an angry Sooners' squad heading to the Little Apple and a ESPN College GameDay audience and homecoming crowd set to hype up this game even more than it is already expected to be. Contrary to the national pollsters, the Las Vegas oddsmakers have established the Sooners as two-touchdown favorites in the early line.
Despite its perfect 7-0 record (4-0 in the conference), Kansas State is an underdog for a second straight game at home at Bill Snyder Family Stadium (they were underdogs in their last home game vs. Missouri). Still seeking the respect they feel they have earned on the gridiron, the Wildcats will have a national television audience this week and, most likely, next week when they square off against Oklahoma State in Stillwater with which to legitimize their claim. If K-State can get it done even once in the next two weeks, there should be no more doubters that this Wildcat bunch is for real.
Oklahoma State won't have a walk in the park either this Saturday. The Cowboys are at home against Baylor in a battle of the Big 12 best two offensive teams. Statistically speaking, neither team is all that good on defense, which should make this a very high-scoring affair. I wouldn't be surprised if there are only four-to-six punts combined in this one.
Missouri hosts Texas A&M Saturday. After that game, the Tigers will be finished with the more difficult part of their schedule - with Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Kansas State out of the way - but by that time MU could also be a disappointing 3-5 on the season and 1-4 in conference games, with its lone Big 12 win over Iowa State.
If you're a Kansas fan, hoping for some kind of miracle may be your only hope as the Jayhawks go to Austin, Texas, to take on a well-rested and hungry Texas team that would like nothing more than to take out its frustrations on a very confidence-shaken Jayhawk team that is giving up over 50 points a game to its opponents and 70 or more twice.
Here is my assessment of how Big 12 football teams rank from a power and quality perspective through games of Week 8:
Big 12 Power Rankings
- 1. Oklahoma State - In driver's seat for first Big 12 championship.
- 2. Kansas State - Has been an underdog in three of its four conference wins, despite being perfect through seven games.
- 3. Oklahoma - Still highly dangerous despite suffering first loss.
- 4. Texas A&M - Aggies have rebounded after incurring two consecutive losses.
- 5. Baylor - In a conference loaded with offense, Baylor is No. 1 on offensive side of the ball.
- 6. Texas Tech - Win over OU was Red Raiders' first win ever against a No. 1-ranked team on the road.
- 7. Texas - Enigmatic Longhorns get a breather this week with home date vs. Kansas.
- 8. Missouri - Tigers may be looking ahead too much to moving to the SEC, where life certainly won't get any better on the football field.
- 9. Iowa State - Thirty-three points to Texas A&M is the fewest the Cyclones have yielded in their four conference losses.
- 10. Kansas - The game between Iowa State and KU, coming up the week after next, may be both teams' only chance for a conference win this season.