We've been checking in around the network the last few weeks and thought today would be a good day to do so a little more in depth regarding one post in particular (we'll probably still check in with a few more tomorrow).
1. Kansas State
How They Fared: 24-19 win over Oklahoma
Next Up: Bye
Previous Ranking #4
Bill Snyder took his team into Norman and won in impressive fashion. The Wildcats dictated the game for the most part and while the score differential was only five, it sure felt like a more comfortable win for Kansas State. As of today this is clearly our frontrunner heading into Big 12 play. They have the most impressive win, they have handled business on a weekly basis, and there isn't another coach in the league that I'd take over Snyder. Now that isn't to say that they won't falter, the schedule is tough and Texas or WVU might have something to say about this, but right now it's K-State at the top of the Big 12.
2. West Virginia
How They Fared: 31-21 win over Maryland
Who's Next: Baylor
Previous Ranking #1
I suppose you have to give credit for the Maryland win even though I'm not sold on it being a great win. The real test will come this week as WVU plays their inaugural Big 12 game against a now ranked Baylor team that is coming off of a road win against a tough ULM team. Both of these teams like to score, so it should be an entertaining game to say the least.
How They Fared: Bye
Up Next: Oklahoma State
Previous Ranking #2
The Longhorns were off last week and they'll drop only by virtue of the leap made by Kansas State. Texas seems to have a lot of their issues from the last two years fixed, we'll see how they handle a game in Stillwater. Hopefully they don't stumble because that game in Austin between WVU and Texas is shaping up to be a huge one.
How They Fared: 47-42 win over ULM
Who's Next: WVU
Previous Rankin: #3
Baylor managed a win in a hostile environment against Louisiana Monroe? That might not sound all that impressive at first but this ULM team is a solid group and they have some very interesting wrinkles working in their offense. They beat Arkansas, nearly knocked off Auburn and Baylor had to come from behind. It's a good win for Baylor, the biggest question mark is on the defensive side of the ball. That is going to be tested big time this week.
Now these rankings are hard to argue with and that's not what I'm here to do. Most rational fans won't disagree that the Maryland win wasn't all that impressive. Hell, we've said so ourselves here and here. But what they (and we, for that matter) failed to make note of was the "trap game" effect that the Maryland game was set up perfectly to be.
The Mountaineers were coming off blowout wins over over-matched opponents the previous two games. Maryland, although they had struggled their first 3 games, were playing for respect. They played well and definitely earned my respect. For some reason, Edsel's teams have always seemed to play WVU tough, minus the 2007 game. Then you add the Big 12 debut to the mix and you have the perfect trap game.
While the offense struggled, at least by its own standards, and the defense had a few tackling issues, the fact that WVU could play to a much lower level than previously demonstrated and still win is impressive. But, the gimmes are now over for the Mountaineers. It's definitely time to show the rest of the league exactly what they're capable of.