- David Ubben, College Football
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The season has come and gone, and brought with it lots of change in the Big 12 Power Rankings. Still, with all the games officially over, here's how I ranked the Big 12 to close the season:
1. Kansas State (11-2, 8-1 Big 12, last week: 1) K-State's year met an unsatisfying end in the desert with another ugly bowl loss. Like last season, the loss was to a team not very far outside of the BCS title picture. Oregon knocked off K-State, but the loss didn't mar all the fantastic things K-State accomplished this year.
2. Oklahoma (10-3, 8-1, last week: 2) Oklahoma suffered a bad bowl loss too, but it mostly exposed defensive deficiencies that may get worse next year. Oklahoma shared a Big 12 title this season, but lacked a big, impressive win. It did have two home losses, but the gap between K-State and OU and the rest of the Big 12 is wide in the standings.
3. Baylor (8-5, 4-5, last week: 4) No team was hotter than the Bears, who closed the season with four consecutive victories, including a home win against then-BCS No. 1 Kansas State to kick off the finish. The streak that featured three wins against ranked teams and the blowout bowl victory over UCLA has Baylor thinking big in 2013.
4. Oklahoma State (8-5, 5-4, last week: 3) The Pokes were better than their record this year, with blowout wins over decent teams such as Texas Tech, West Virginia and TCU. OSU wishes it had those Arizona and Texas games to do over again, but winning eight games with the injuries at quarterback is no small feat. The Pokes will be loaded for 2013, especially if Joseph Randle returns.
5. Texas (9-4, 5-4, last week: 5) Texas rescued a bowl win against a top-15 team, but David Ash still must be better if the Longhorns are going to return to Big 12 prominence. The tenor of spring practice will be heavily influenced by how an ongoing sexual assault investigation plays out. Regardless, until it's over, it's a possible distraction that could substantially affect personnel.
6. TCU (7-6, 4-5, last week: 6) With a bowl win, TCU might have slid inside the league's top five, but coughing up a late lead put a really frustrating end to a gutsy season from the Frogs. Trevone Boykin and Matthew Tucker did their best filling in for injured players, but the Frogs didn't have enough offense without Casey Pachall and Waymon James to win big in 2012.
7. Texas Tech (8-5, 4-5, last week: 8) Tech's finish was ugly, and narrowly surviving against a barely mediocre Minnesota team didn't really impress many folks. The Red Raiders' losing four of five in Big 12 play didn't inspire much confidence, but the future will be really, really intriguing in Lubbock.
8. West Virginia (7-6, 4-5, last week: 7) West Virginia's ugly bowl loss to Syracuse removed any question about the conference's biggest disappointment in 2012. The defense is nowhere near good enough to be competitive in the Big 12, and the offense didn't have enough juice to outscore very many good teams.
9. Iowa State (6-7, 3-6, last week: 9) Beating teams twice is never easy, but Iowa State had an opportunity to move up in these rankings with a win over the Golden Hurricane. Instead, Tulsa dominated the final three quarters, and did so on the line of scrimmage. A second lopsided bowl loss in as many years is not the finish Paul Rhoads wanted.
10. Kansas (1-11, 0-9, last week: 10) No bowl, and not much to report, but the recruiting class is loaded up with about 70 percent junior college commits. We'll see how that looks in the fall, but this spring should be interesting, too.