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Worst-Case Record for Each Big 12 Team in 2023

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Iowa

On Monday, we looked at the best-case records for every Big 12 team in 2023. In that column, we focused on what the ceiling for each team looks like in the upcoming season. Now, it’s time to look at the opposite end of the spectrum for each Big 12 team in 2023.

Today, we will focus on the “worst-case” scenario for each Big 12 team. This could mean, the loss of key players, coordinator hires not working out as many had hoped, or momentum gets rolling in the wrong direction for a team and tanks their season.

Here are the worst-case records for every Big 12 team in 2023.


Texas Longhorns

Worst-Case Record: 8-4

Texas is the preseason favorite to win the Big 12, and for good reason, but we’ve heard this story before. What if Texas’ defense doesn’t live up to the hype? What if Quinn Ewers doesn’t take a leap, or Steve Sarkisian still can’t get to double-digit wins? After getting run off the field against Alabama, Texas falls to Oklahoma, K-State, and Texas Tech in their final game of the season to miss out on the Big 12 Championship game, and disappoint after massive expectations yet again.

Oklahoma Sooners

Worst-Case Record: 7-5

There’s plenty of confidence that things will be different in Norman in 2023, but what if things don’t go as planned? What if Oklahoma’s defense still can’t get off the field or Brent Venables’ game management doesn’t improve in Year 2? After dropping a game to Cincinnati in its first road game, Oklahoma gets blown out again at the hands of Texas and enters its bye week at 4-2. Then, with losses to UCF, Oklahoma State, and TCU to end the year, the Sooners are 7-5 and Venables’ seat starts to get warm with a move to the SEC on the horizon.

Kansas State Wildcats

Worst-Case Record: 7-5

Will Howard and the offensive line are back in Manhattan, but what if replacing Deuce Vaughn is tougher than expected? What if K-State’s defense can’t replace the losses of Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Josh Hayes, and Julius Brents? After going into Columbia and dropping a winnable game against Mizzou, K-State loses back-to-back road games at Oklahoma State and Texas Tech before dropping a home contest against TCU. After a 3-4 start, the Wildcats win four of their last five to salvage the season, but 7-5 isn’t exactly what Chris Klieman had in mind for 2023.


Oklahoma State Cowboys

Worst-Case Record: 6-6

There are plenty of questions on Oklahoma State’s roster, and what if the transfer portal additions don’t work out? Plus, Alan Bowman goes down early, leaving the Pokes to start Garrett Rangel or true freshman, Zane Flores. With bad quarterback play and a makeshift defense under a new coordinator, OSU drops a Week 2 contest against Arizona State but gets to the bye at 3-1. The Pokes then drop four of their next six with losses to K-State, Kansas, Oklahoma, and UCF. A win over Houston gets them to bowl eligibility, but a loss to BYU to end the year brings them to 6-6.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Worst-Case Record: 6-6

There are big expectations for the Red Raiders in 2023, but what if things don’t go as planned? Tyler Shough goes down against Oregon in Week 2, and a game that should’ve been very competitive ends in a lopsided win for the Ducks. After losing Tyree Wilson, the Texas Tech pass rush isn’t nearly as formidable, opening up opponents to open up the playbook in 2023. With a struggling defense, and Shough out, Tech drops games against Baylor, K-State, TCU, Kansas, and Texas, bringing them to 6-6 on the year.

TCU Horned Frogs

Worst-Case Record: 5-7

What if the Kendal Briles/Chander Morris experiment doesn’t click in Year 1? What if TCU can’t replace the talent it lost after last year’s magical season? Well, things start off horribly as Deion Sanders and Colorado come into Fort Worth and shock the Horned Frogs, who are three-touchdown favorites. After regaining some confidence with wins over Nicholls and Houston, TCU drops games against SMU, BYU, and K-State before the bye week. Unfortunately, a gauntlet awaits after that and the Horned Frogs drop three of their last four games to finish 5-7 and miss a bowl game.


Baylor Bears

Worst-Case Record: 5-7

What if Baylor’s front-loaded schedule puts Baylor behind the eight ball before the bye week? Blake Shapen doesn’t take the next step and the Baylor defense struggles under Matt Powledge, leading Baylor to losses against Utah, Texas, UCF, and Texas Tech before the bye week. After a 2-4 start, Aranda turns to Mississippi State transfer Sawyer Robertson, but the change doesn’t pay off due to an inexperienced offensive line. Baylor drops three of its final six games, falling to 5-7 on the year and missing out on a bowl game.

UCF Knights

Worst-Case Record: 5-7

What if UCF isn’t as ready for the Big 12 as we believe them to be? What if John Rhys Plumlee can’t stay healthy, and they’re forced to turn to USF transfer Timmy McClain? After losing to Boise State in Week 2, UCF’s Big 12 opener at K-State gets ugly before Baylor comes to Orlando and squeaks out a win. The Knights can’t keep up with the Kansas or Oklahoma offenses, dropping them to 0-4 in Big 12 play. Wins in two their next three contests get UCF to 4-5 with a chance of getting to a bowl, but losses to Oklahoma State and Texas Tech seal their fate, as UCF’s first year in the Big 12 ends at 5-7.

BYU Cougars

Worst-Case Record: 4-8

The Kedon Slovis experiment just didn’t work out, and at best, he’s the same guy we saw at Pitt last season with a 10:9 TD:INT ratio. While BYU can still run the ball effectively, they can’t play sufficient defense, forcing them to throw the ball more than they’d like to stay in games. Losses to Arkansas and Kansas write the blueprint for beating the Cougars before their bye week, allowing TCU, Texas, and Texas Tech to capitalize in the coming weeks. Sitting at 3-5, Kalani Sitake is forced to bench Slovis in lieu of Jake Retzlaff, who gives the offense a boost. After a long road trip to West Virginia that ends in a heartbreaker, BYU gets back in the win column against Iowa State. However, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State prove too much for the Cougars, leaving Sitake’s group at 4-8 in an extremely disappointing season.

Kansas Jayhawks

Worst-Case Record: 4-8

After shocking the college football world in 2022, Kansas returns to the form that we’ve all seen for the previous decade. With solid quarterback depth, KU’s offense is able to put up points, but opponents learn that playing keep away is just too easy, as the Jayhawks can’t stop anyone from running the football. After a loss to Illinois in Week 2, KU drops each of its first four conference games, putting them at 2-5 heading into the bye. A blowout loss to Oklahoma after a week of rest sets the tone for the rest of the year, as the Jayhawks drop games against Texas Tech and K-State to finish 4-8.

West Virginia Mountaineers

Worst-Case Record: 3-9

What if nothing, and I mean nothing goes right for West Virginia in 2023? After being picked to finish last in the Big 12, Neal Brown’s squad proves voters right. Blowout losses to Penn State and Pittsburgh get the fan base up in arms, and the games against Texas Tech and TCU don’t go much better, as WVU goes 0-5 against FBS opponents before the bye, their only win coming against Duquesne in Week 2. Neal Brown gets the hook after a 1-5 start, leaving the Mountaineers with an interim situation. An inspired effort against Houston out of the bye week gives West Virginia some momentum, but it’s floundered with a home loss to Oklahoma State. While they pick up a win against Cincinnati, WVU loses four of its last five, bringing them to 3-9 on the year.

Houston Cougars

Worst-Case Record: 3-9

Dana Holgorsen’s return to the Big 12 proves too much for a group that is trying to replace one of the best QB/WR combos in school history, as the offense struggles to find traction under Donovan Smith. The defense continues to struggle, as it did in 2022, and things start off badly, as Frank Harris and UTSA come into H-Town and throttle the Cougars. A loss to cross-town rival Rice the following week sets the tone for a rough season, as Houston drops five of its first six games in Big 12 play. A late-season win against Cincinnati breaks the losing streak, but the damage is done, as Houston finishes the year at 3-9, and dead last in the Big 12.

Cincinnati Bearcats

Worst-Case Record: 2-10

The roster turnover, loss of Luke Fickell, and elevation to the Big 12 prove too much for the Bearcats in 2023, as the instability shows up on the scoreboard. After a loss to Pitt, Cincy drops a game to Miami (OH) in Week 3, a rivalry game that they haven’t lost in nearly two decades. Then, Oklahoma visits and blows the doors off of Nippert Stadium, sending the Bearcats into a spiral. Cincinnati loses seven of its final eight games as Emory Jones just can’t find consistency and an above-average defense starts to crumble after spending way too much time on the field. After a 2-10 season in Year 1, Cincinnati starts to question its hire of Scott Satterfield less than a year after he was brought in.

Iowa State Cyclones

Worst-Case Record: 1-11

With a gambling scandal surrounding the program and several starters gone because of it, Iowa State’s season goes off the tracks before it gets started. A game against UNI, which has been close over the last several seasons, breaks the way of the Panthers, as Iowa State falls to a ranked FCS opponent in Week 1. Iowa comes to Ames the following week and shuts out the Cyclones in Jack Trice, as the Cyclone Faithful are now thankful for the plethora of beverage options they’ll have in 2023. A nailbiter in Ohio gives Iowa State a narrow win against a MAC opponent, but that serves as ISU’s only win of the season, as they go winless in Big 12 play to finish 1-11 on the year.

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