West Virginia Back in the Mix in the Big 12

This is a weird and scary time to be in the Big 12. Nothing seems to make sense or be as it was projected or even expected. Teams that should be dominating or competitive find themselves scraping the bottom of the conference, and then you find teams like West Virginia that no one picked for anything fairing pretty well in the recent standings. Granted, we are only through week one, but WVU has been underdogs in all the matchups – so even their position after week one of conference play is a surprise to the nation.

Here are the current Big 12 Standings, and then we can look at the matchups for this week and how likely these teams are to stay where they are:

1 Kansas 1-0 4-0 W4
2 Oklahoma 1-0 4-0 W4
3 Texas 1-0 4-0 W4
4 Kansas State 1-0 3-1 W1
5 TCU 1-0 3-1 W3
6 West Virginia 1-0 3-1 W3
7 Iowa State 1-0 2-2 W1
8 BYU 0-1 3-1 L1
9 UCF 0-1 3-1 L1
10 Cincinnati 0-1 2-2 L2
11 Houston 0-1 2-2 W1
12 Oklahoma State 0-1 2-2 L2
13 Baylor 0-1 1-3 L1
14 Texas Tech 0-1 1-3 L1

First place is a three-way tie between Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. But that will not stay that way for long.

(1) Kansas @ (3) Texas [Texas -17]: The Jayhawks are hitting the road for their most challenging test of the year – playing the University of Texas Longhorns in Austin. This is going to be a battle. Slow starts are impossible here, or you get too far behind the score to catch up in front of this massive crowd. With Kansas being ranked now, this has become an unexpected marquee matchup of the Big 12 this week. If Kansas’s defense plays lights out as aggressively as they did against the Cougars this past weekend, Texas might also have its most demanding game ahead. However, the Longhorns are finding their stride and have not wavered much throughout the year. They should be juiced and up for this ranked-on-ranked competition before their home crowd.

Predicted Winner: Texas

(7) Iowa State @ (2) Oklahoma [Oklahoma -20.5]: Somehow, the Oklahoma Sooners just keep getting some easy beginning-of-the-season games. I don’t think their performance has been tested, and I think it won’t happen this week, either. Iowa State is coming to town, and while fresh off a win against Oklahoma State, Iowa State is outgunned and unprepared for the Sooner attack. This is going to be a pretty decisive victory.

Predicted to Win: Oklahoma

(4) Kansas State @ (12) Oklahoma State: Unless the Cowboys figure out something fast, this will be a long and brutal season for them. The play on the field has been lackluster, and people like Gundy are in the camp of not leaning on NIL for progress or retention of good players, so this might just be the norm in Stillwater. Either way, Kansas State is coming to town, and they are feeling good after taking out one of the league’s new entrants in UCF. Oklahoma State might fight early, but I think Kansas State handily takes care of business.

Predicted to Win: Kansas State

(6) West Virginia @ (5) TCU [TCU -10]: This will be a game to watch, not just because of our obvious fandom. TCU has been good for years, mostly. Yet somehow, Neal Brown has always had a way of keeping it close – even last year, in our 5-7 finish, we took the National Championship-bound Horned Frogs the distance. Within the last few minutes of the game, TCU only had a 3-point margin of lead. I actually think this team is playing the best football I have seen in a while in Morgantown, and I love it. You figure out how to get some big plays downfield with some sure-handed receivers, and the Mountaineers are gigging.

Predicted to Win: WVU

(10) Cincinnati @ (8) BYU [BYU -3]: Both teams are coming from decisive losses. Cincinnati faced theirs at home against Oklahoma, and BYU suffered theirs in Lawrence to the currently rolling Jayhawks. Even at this point of the season, you don’t know what to expect from either of these squads, which has always been the case with BYU. They have spent much time being decent with flashes of greatness, but never fully getting over that hump. I think that this will be as close as projected, but the Cougars stay relevant for now and squeak out a win.

Predicted to Win: BYU

(13) Baylor @ (9) UCF [UCF -11]: I believe this one goes as advertised. The Baylor Bears are rather humdrum so far beyond a serious stand against Utah in Week 2. The Bears are traveling to Florida to meet a Golden Knight squad looking to shake off their unfriendly welcome to the conference in a loss in Manhattan, KS last weekend. I think UCF lights it up on the ground, especially if Plumlee is back under center.

Predicted to Win: UCF

(11) Houston @ (14) Texas Tech [TTU -3.5]: WVU fans NEED Tech to have a decisive win in this one for two reasons: one, it shows that we don’t have as many question marks about our own team and some hype is okay, and two, it shows that we are looking at putting it to Holgorsen’s unit after we are done handling business in Ft. Worth. I do believe TTU makes a statement that they are not the bottom of the conference as current standings suggest.

Predicted to Win: Texas Tech

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Benjamin Gilbert
Benjamin Gilbert here - panhandle resident and enjoyer of Pitt losses. First and foremost, I am a lifelong West Virginia Mountaineer fan and do my best to inspire that passion in my beautiful wife and talented kids. Unfortunately, fandom doesn't always pay the bills. I have been writing for a decade and a half for various professions and multi-faceted franchises, so writing is what I do. Combining my skills with my passion for the WVU teams, I always seek to provide fair and honest takes on our path to finding the top of college athletics. Let's Go.