Defensive rankings: Baylor’s Xavien Howard enters the rankings at No. 4


No. 1: Texas DT Malcom Brown (Last week: 1)

Brown did not have his most productive day on Saturday, but still played well for his team. He accumulated six tackles and one quarterback hurry. He earned a half of a tackle for loss. The Longhorns shutout Kansas on the road. Brown played no small part in that performance.

Brown will have to turn in a trademark game on Saturday for his team to have success defensively. The Longhorns will host the Baylor Bears, who average 56.8 points per game. If Brown can provide pressure on senior quarterback Bryce Petty, his team could have a slim chance at limiting the Bears’ offense.

No. 2: TCU LB Paul Dawson (Last week: 2)

Dawson was not around the ball much against SMU, but made a difference when he was. He had just two tackles, including a sack and a fumble recovery. His team pitched a shutout and allowed only 89 rushing yards on 45 carries.

The Horned Frogs will be tested when they host No. 4 Oklahoma on Saturday. The Sooners are ninth in the nation in points per game (44.8). Dawson’s unit has to play at the top of their game if they want a shot at knocking off the Sooners.

No. 3: Kansas LB Ben Heeney (Last week: 3)

Kansas may have lost by 23 to Texas, but blaming Heeney would be asinine. He racked up 10 tackles in the game. He also had 1.5 tackles for loss and a half of a sack. He recovered a fumble and had a quarterback hurry as well. Kansas’ defense allowed 111 yards on the ground.

The Jayhawks face West Virginia next and the Mountaineers’ offense is built on throwing the ball, so Heeney’s impact on the game may be limited.

No. 4: Baylor CB Xavien Howard (Last week: unranked)

Howard is new to the power rankings this week, but has been good in the secondary all season. He leads the Big 12 in passes defended this season with six breakups and two interceptions. His two interceptions are tied for third most in the conference.

Howard had five tackles against Iowa State last Saturday and three pass breakups. Howard and his teammates will face an anemic Texas offense this week. The Longhorns average just 21.3 points and 195 passing yards per game, which both rank ninth in the conference.

No. 5: Iowa State LB Cory Morrissey (Last week: 4)

Morrissey was not great against Baylor, but it’s hard to blame him when he played against such an elite offense. He racked up five tackles, a half of a tackle for loss and a pass breakup. His team allowed 601 yards, so it was not a banner day by any stretch of the imagination.

The Cyclones and Morrissey get another challenge this week when they travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take on Oklahoma State. The Cowboys offense is dangerous, so Morrissey will need to look to his teammates in the secondary to join him in his efforts in order to knock off head coach Mike Gundy’s squad.