By Jake Meltzer/Digital Contributor
We are now three weeks into the 2019 college football season and each team has displayed their strengths and weaknesses against non-conference opponents.
A handful of Big 12 teams were faced with some serious early challenges on their schedule, all which were in preparation to fight for the Big 12 crown over the next nine games.
The defending champion Oklahoma Sooners opened the season 3-0, but also have yet to face a ranked opponent, while the 2-1 Texas Longhorns have had two dominant wins but came up just short in a nail-biter with No. 6 LSU.
Which team will be looking down on the other in the standings by the end of the season? That is to be determined, but let's take a look how those two teams and the rest of the conference stack up in this year's first Big 12 Power Rankings.
1. Oklahoma (3-0, #5)
Sorry Longhorn fans, but unless Jalen Hurts slows down, which at this point seems very unlikely, the Big 12 will run through Norman, OK. In two of Oklahoma's first three games, Hurts led the team in passing and rushing yards. Last week against UCLA, Hurts became the first Oklahoma quarter back to pass for 200 yards and rush for 100 in one half. Although Oklahoma currently ranks 58th in total defense, they have put up at least 45 points in every game this season. Texas is a very close No. 2, but Oklahoma gets the nod for the top spot as we enter conference play due to pure dominance.
This Week: Bye
Next Game: vs. Texas Tech (2-1)
2. Texas (2-1, #12)
Texas seems to have returned back to their old ways of…well, winning. Texas has come out this season and dominated the games that they were supposed to and played unbelievable in a high-pressure game against LSU. Although Texas lost that game, there was never a point in the where you looked at the team and thought "Well, maybe they just don't have what it takes for these big games." Texas may not have won, but they sure showed the country that they're inching closer to greatness every week. The Longhorns are coming off a 35-point road-win against Rice, a game in which their defense was virtually impenetrable. They will need that same type of tight coverage and run defense this weekend against a powerhouse offense.
Next Game: vs. Oklahoma State (3-0)
3. Oklahoma State (3-0)
Offensively, Oklahoma State could be the best team in the conference. On average, they've been putting up roughly 49 points a game, good for 9th best in the nation. They put up 50+ points in each of their first two games and grabbed two early road wins against Oregon St. and Tulsa. Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard leads the NCAA in rushing yards and touchdowns, while talented receiver Tylan Wallace leads the country in both receiving yards and touchdowns. Freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders has made some noise as well, tossing seven touchdowns and only one interception thus far. There is no question that this Oklahoma State offense can light up just about any defense in the country, but will they do it consistently and will their defense help them out? The Cowboys hit the road this week to take on their first ranked opponent of the year.
Next Game: @ #12 Texas (2-1)
4. TCU (#25, 2-0)
The Horned Frogs are undefeated so far to open the season, with their second win coming last week in a matchup at Purdue. Quarterback Max Dugan has yet to make a huge impact, but running back Darius Anderson showed his capability to be a premier back last week when he ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns on only 16 carries. Senior offensive tackle Lucas Niang has been arguably one of the best offensive linemen in the country, Dugan just needs to do a better job of finding open receivers or using his feet when he has space. The defense has showed out well as of now, but TCU will certainly face tougher opponents down the stretch during conference play.
Next Game: vs. SMU (3-0)
5. Kansas State (3-0)
Kansas State had two dominant wins against sub-par teams to open the season, but were really put to the test last week when they took a trip to Mississippi State. Despite turnover issues, K-State scored 14 unanswered points in the 4th quarter and came away with a 31-24 win over Mississippi State. While the Bulldogs have had their own troubles, it is no easy challenge going on the road in the SEC and winning a game. The fact that the Wildcats were able to do that shows that they'll continue to give teams trouble.
This Week: Bye
Next Game: @ Oklahoma State (3-0)
Rounding out the rankings
6. Iowa State (1-1)
Next Game: vs Louisiana Monroe (1-1)
7. Baylor (2-0)
Next Game: @ Rice (0-3)
8. West Virginia (2-1)
Next Game: @ Kansas (2-1)
9. Texas Tech (2-1)
This Week: Bye
Next Game: @ Oklahoma
10. Kansas (2-1)
Next Game: vs. West Virginia (2-1)
The Big 12, as always, is expected to be a competitive conference at the top. The Oklahoma Sooners come into the season as the defending conference champions, but last year's runner-up, Texas Longhorns, are looking to take the throne. With the first few non-conference games out of the way for most teams, Big 12 play is set to begin weekend. The most anticipated matchup, Oklahoma State vs. Texas, will kickoff at 7:30 PM on Saturday, as the Cowboys travel to Austin to take on the No. 12 Longhorns.