Everything is starting to heat up in the conference, with three teams tied for second place and a clear-cut contender in the No. 1 slot.
There’s still a lot of football left to be played, and certain teams are a wild card. For the first time in Big 12 history at team from the league is in the Playoff discussion and not Oklahoma. It’s still any given Autumn Saturday in the Big 12, and nothing is set in stone.
So week 11 will provide a lot of clarity on how these coaches end up at the finish line.
10. Neal Brown, West Virginia: Neal Brown’s fourth fourth season with the Mountaineers has been his worst. West Virginia has lost four of its’ last five games, including three-straight. It’s no mystery the defense is a major issue. The Mountaineers are eighth in the Big 12 and 100th in FBS in total defense. Not to mention West Virginia’s defense has allowed a jaw-dropping, 40 touchdowns, which is the worst in the league. Quarterback JT Daniels has really struggled as of late. He has been picked off in each of the past four contests, including five during the three-game losing streak. Brown has the Mountaineers 1-5 in conference play, and the finals three games are going to be tough against teams with a winning record. He’s 19-24 overall with the program, and West Virginia appears to have regressed in 2022.
9. Matt Campbell, Iowa State: The Cyclones finally secured their first Big 12 victory of the season in week 10. There’s no denying Iowa State beat a bad West Virginia team. The 31 points the Cyclones scored on the Mountaineers, tied for their most in Big 12 play this fall. Quarterback Hunter Dekkers rebounded in a big way with no interceptions, after he threw four over the last two losses. The Cyclones have some much-needed momentum for the remainder of the slate. Now Iowa State will need to win two of its’ final three games to become bowl eligible for a sixth-straight season under Campbell. The next two contests are very winnable, considering both will be against reeling teams in Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. As long as the offense takes care of the ball, Iowa State’s defense will take care of the rest.
8. Joey McGuire, Texas Tech: There’s been some bumps along the road for the first-year coach. The Red Raiders have lost five of their last seven games, and are winless on the road. McGuire is still within striking distance of becoming bowl eligible though. Texas Tech needs to win at least two of its’ last three games. It helps that two of those contests will be at home, where the Red Raiders are 4-1 on the season. None of that will matter if McGuire can’t get his quarterback situation figured out. He’s been playing musical chairs with Behren Morton, Donovan Smith and Tyler Shough. Morton and Shough only completed 16 of their 32 passes for 157 yards, a touchdown and an interception against TCU. The Red Raiders can put up some points, but all of their losses this fall have been by double-digits.
7. Brent Venables, Oklahoma: The Sooners can’t get out of their own way, losing four of their last six games. Venables is having a rough transition going from being a Defensive Coordinator in the ACC, to a head coach in the Big 12. He supposed to have one the defensive minds in the game. However, Oklahoma is ninth in the Big 12 and 110th in FBS in total defense. Not to mention the Sooners allowed 41 or more points in three of their four losses. On offense Oklahoma is struggling with consistency. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel is coming off a three-interception performance against Baylor, his worst outing of 2022. He has struggled with the deep ball, and that has limited the Sooners’ explosive plays. Oklahoma must win one of its’ final three games to become bowl eligible, and two are on the road.
6. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: A month ago the Pokes were one of the hottest teams in the country. However, Oklahoma State is coming off two lopsided losses to both of the Kansas schools. A lot of fingers for the Pokes’ shortcomings are being pointed at the leaky defense. Oklahoma State is dead last in the Big 12, and 123rd in FBS in total defense. Those are discouraging numbers, considering the Big 12 is full of high-flying offenses. Gundy clearly misses Jim Knowles, who has Ohio State’s defense dominating on the gridiron this fall. Quarterback Garret Rangel started in last week’s loss to the Jayhawks, and was picked off three times. The Pokes are on the outside looking in as far as the Big 12 race. The good news is Gundy can finish the year with at least eight wins for a fourth-straight season.
5. Lance Leipold, Kansas: He has accomplished what Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, David Beaty and Les Mile failed to do, which is get the Jayhawks bowl eligible. Kansas beat Oklahoma State by three touchdowns in week 10. That solidifies Leipold has the Jayhawks a year ahead of schedule, and it’s just his second season with the program. There’s a reason why he’s a sought after candidate for some of the bigger Power Five job openings. Kansas is averaging 37.9 points per game, which third in the Big 12 and 15th in the FBS. Quarterback Jason Bean has played solid over the past two games, with seven touchdown tosses. However, two of the Jayhawks’ next three contests are on the road. And Kansas has lost three-straight conference tilts away from home. Leipold’s boys are 4-1 at Memorial Stadium.
4. Chris Klieman, Kansas State: The Wildcats are currently in a three-way tie in the Big 12 standings. Unfortunately Texas holds a tie-breaker over Kansas State. However, a road win at Baylor is vital in order for Klieman’s team to keep their Big 12 Title hopes alive. Klieman will have to figure out his quarterback situation the rest of the way though. Adrian Martinez turned the ball over in the clutch, and missed a few throws. Some fans wanted to see Will Howard behind center after his stellar performance in the victory over Oklahoma State in week nine. The Wildcats are still rated in both the AP Poll and Playoff rankings. So if Kansas State wins out, it could very well hold onto that No. 2 spot in the standings. That’s easier said than done, considering the Wildcats have lost four-straight to the Bears.
3. Steve Sarkisian, Texas: His second season in Austin is starting to trend up. Texas jumped into that No. 2 spot in the Big 12 standings after a thrilling road victory over Kansas State in week 10. Now the Longhorns are looking like one of the hottest teams in the league, and they’re catching fire at the right time. The offense is taking flight too. Texas is averaging 36.1 points per game, which is fifth in the Big 12 and 24th in the country. Running back Bijan Robinson leads the league in rushing yards and touchdowns on the ground. He has eclipsed the century mark in rushing seven times this fall, including a 209-yard performance against the Wildcats. Quarterback Quinn Ewers appears to have complete command of the offense. Not to mention wideout Xavier Worthy leads the conference with nine touchdown catches.
2. Dave Aranda, Baylor: The reigning Big 12 Champs are still in the mix to defend their title. Baylor is tied for second in the Polls with Texas and Kansas State. It just so happens that the Bears will play the Wildcats and Longhorns at home in two of their next three games. Not to mention TCU is on the slate. No doubt the road to Big 12 supremacy runs through Baylor. Aranda has the Bears flying under the radar again, and that’s when they’re most dangerous. A light bulb has turned on with the team and they’re riding a three-game winning streak. Baylor is averaging 38.3 points per game, which ranks second in the Big 12 and 14th in the FBS. For Aranda to have his team in this position after losing two of their first three conference games, is nothing short of phenomenal. Baylor holds all the cards in the Big 12.
1. Sonny Dykes, TCU: He couldn’t have asked for a better first season with the program. After all, the Horned Frogs are undefeated, and they’re No. 4 in both the AP Poll and Playoff rankings. Quarterback Max Duggan is a Heisman hopeful. Not to mention the Horned Frogs are the nation’s comeback kids of 2022. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering TCU has outscored its’ opponents 187-102 in the second half this season. Dykes’ boys are No. 1 in the Big 12 in both scoring and total offense. The more the Horned Frogs win, the bigger the bullseye grow on their backs. Regardless, TCU is walking that thin line to postseason glory. The schedule will be challenging over the next two games, with road tilts at Texas and Baylor. And that will solidify if the Horned Frogs are pretenders or true Playoff contenders.