This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big 12 fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
(4/4) Kansas State. The Wildcats' blowout win at West Virginia bought them a step up in the BCS standings, thanks to the computer polls, which were suitably impressed by the upset to move K-State to No. 2 on average –ahead of human favorites Alabama and Oregon. The human voters were a tougher sell: In fact, the Wildcats actually fell a spot in the Coaches' Poll to make room for Florida's rise to No. 3. From here on, though, K-State is the only team in the top 10 of any of the polls that doesn't have to play another team in the top 10 over the final six weeks.
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Last week: 4th AP, 3rd Coaches.
(8/7) Oklahoma. The Sooners have rebounded nicely since that disappointing loss to Kansas State on Sept. 22, to the extent that some voters may be willing to forgive and forget in case of a K-State stumble down the stretch. In that case, from its current position on the Wildcats' heels, it's not difficult to imagine Oklahoma leaping the one-loss 'Cats, or – with the right help in front of them – managing to slide into position to play for the BCS Championship without winning the Big 12 championship. (Because of head-to-head tiebreaker rules, OU will almost certainly need Kansas State to lose twice to claim the crown.) None of that is possible, though, if the Sooners can't put away Notre Dame this weekend in Norman.
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Last week: 10th AP, 7th Coaches.
(15/17) Texas Tech. The Red Raiders nearly fell out of the rankings altogether Saturday after blowing a 10-point lead in the final three minutes of regulation at TCU, and subsequently found themselves trailing in must-score, do-or-die situations on two separate occasions in overtime. Instead, their eventual 56-53 win in triple overtime boosted the Raiders three spots in both the AP and Coaches' polls and kept them in the thick of the conference title race with a trip to first-place Kansas State on deck. It also secured bowl eligibility after Tech was home for the holidays in 2011, and likely put any lingering doubts about coach Tommy Tuberville's job status to rest.
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Last week: 18th AP, 20th Coaches.
(25/22) West Virginia. In a span of eight days, the Mountaineers have been outscored 104 to 28 in losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State, the latter at home, and have watched their Big 12 and BCS ambitions – not to mention quarterback Geno Smith's designs on the Heisman Trophy – go up in smoke along with their secondary. In the polls, West Virginia has plummeted from the top five on the heels of a shootout win at Texas to hanging on by a thread heading into a bye week, and it's not about to get any easier: The first three games on the other side of the bye are against TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
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Last week: 17th AP, 15th Coaches.
(–/25) Texas. Longhorns fans weren't very reassured by a wild 56-50 win over Baylor, or by a defense that has yielded 197 points over the last four games. (For some context, the 2009 team that played for the BCS championship only allowed 197 points in the entire regular season.) But the end of a two-game slide was enough for the coaches, who reserved the final slot in this week's ballot for their old friend, Mack Brown. Just imagine how high the Horns will rise next week if they cover the 21-point spread Saturday at Kansas.
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Last week: Unranked in either poll.
Everyone else: TCU fell into "Also Receiving Votes" purgatory on the heels of its loss to Texas Tech, but remains in position to climb back into the rankings with a win at Oklahoma State. … The Cowboys are on the verge of re-entering the polls themselves after a solid win over Iowa State. … And for the first time this season, the Cyclones join Baylor and Kansas as the only Big 12 teams that failed to receive a single vote in either poll.