Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and Baylor coach Dave Aranda have changed the narrative about the Big 12 this season.
Most of the chatter at the beginning was about how Oklahoma and Texas eventually will leave for the Southeastern Conference. Oklahoma was picked to win the league and Texas was picked third in the preseason poll.
Now, most of the conversation centers around No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 11 Baylor -- upstart programs that are staying put. Gundy and Aranda have been front and center.
Kansas coach Lance Leipold and Texas Tech interim coach Sonny Cumbie also had big moments last weekend. Leipold's Jayhawks stunned Texas and Cumbie's Red Raiders beat Iowa State on a walk-off 62-yard field goal.
Oklahoma State was picked fourth and Baylor eighth in the Big 12 before the season, but now both are in strong position to reach the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma State, which still has an outside shot at reaching the College Football Playoff, is tied with Oklahoma at the top of the league standings and Baylor is a game behind.
Gundy's Cowboys are riding a relentless defense. Oklahoma State rolled past TCU 63-17 last Saturday, prompting TCU interim coach Jerry Kill to say Oklahoma — not six-time defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma — is the best in the league.
“Mike (Gundy) and Oklahoma State’s got a really great football team, I think that’s very evident," Kill said. "They’ve got all the formulas to go a long, long way and they out-physicaled and out played us, out coached us. There’s not a whole lot to say when you get beat like that and I’ve been in the business a long time.”
Oklahoma State has been known for its explosive offenses under Gundy, but the Cowboys rank third in the nation in total defense and fifth in rushing defense. They went 11 quarters without allowing a touchdown before giving up two in garbage time against TCU.
Gundy said the players make his job easier.
“I told them afterwards that it’s just fun for me to be along for the ride and be the coach and watch these guys practice during the week — their focus, their discipline, their toughness, their willingness to exert themselves during the week and just play hard,” he said.
Baylor beat Oklahoma 27-14 to snap the Sooners' nation-leading 17-game win streak. Aranda got attention for having his team kick a late field goal for tiebreaker purposes. The Baylor student section had already stormed the field with three seconds remaining, and it had to be cleared for the Bears to kick what could be a valuable 32-yard field goal by Isaiah Hankins. Aranda said because his Bears lost at Oklahoma State by 10 points, beating Oklahoma by 13 instead of 10 would be meaningful in case of a three-way tie.
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley was upset about the decision, and Aranda talked to him about it later.
“He reached out, but any conversations I’d have with another coach, I would keep between us,” Riley said Tuesday.
Despite the loss, Riley is still a hot commodity in the coaching ranks. Rumors are running rampant that he might be interested in heading to LSU. He shot those down.
“It’s pretty easy,” he said. “I coach the University of Oklahoma football team. You guys know how I feel about this place and this program. We’ve all been down this road many times before. You guys know where I stand on that and that hasn’t changed.”
Jonathan Garibay's 62-yards field goal lifted Texas Tech to a 41-38 victory over Iowa State. It was the longest field goal in school history by five yards. The Red Raiders earned bowl eligibility for the first time since 2017. Though Joey McGuire has been hired to eventually take over as head coach, Cumbie left a mark with his first win.
Leipold had a breakthrough victory when his Jayhawks beat Texas 57-56 in overtime Saturday. The Jayhawks went for two after scoring a touchdown in the extra period and converted for the win to end their eight game losing streak this season and a 56-game skid in Big 12 road games dating to 2008.
“I’m so proud of our guys,” Leipold said. “They have been through so much.”
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.
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