The 2023 college football season got underway this past week with the Big 12 Conference having some solid wins and disappointing losses.
So now it’s time for our Big 12 Power Rankings. Here’s a reminder on how I’ve done this for years: It’s about how your team looked and how it played, not always about if your team won or lost. And last week’s rankings have little impact on this week’s. That’s what makes this fun. These are also not predictions for the way the season will end, just a Power Rankings based on the most recent performances.
So with that being said, here are our Week 2 Big 12 football Power Rankings.
1. Kansas State Wildcats
The Wildcats were my preseason pick to win the Big 12, and after a a 45-0 win over Southeast Missouri State on Saturday, I see no reason to move them off the top spot. In the game, QB Will Howard became the seventh player in the history of the Big 12 Conference to record a passing touchdown, a receiving touchdown, and a rushing touchdown in a single game. The Cats have earned No. 1.
2. Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners absolutely crushed Central Arkansas 73-0 on Saturday in Norman. It was the most points for OU since scoring 76 against Western Carolina two years ago. Oklahoma’s offense tallied up 642 yards on 7.8 yards per play, with 422 yards through the air and 220 yards on the ground, while the defense was lights out. It was lesser competition, but if Year 2 of Brent Venables looks like it did on Saturday, watch out Big 12.
3. UCF Knights
UCF entered the Big 12 and racked up a 56-6 win over Kent State on Thursday in one of the more impressive performances in the league in Week 1. Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee threw for over 280 yards and three touchdowns on the night. He also added 90 yards on the ground and had a rushing score as well. The rushing attack carried the offense in this one as they had a whopping 389 yards on the ground. If that is the UCF offense the rest of the season, Big 12 defenses are going to be having some sleepless nights this fall.
4. Texas Longhorns
Texas rolled Rice 37-10, which was a 37-3 game before UT pulled its starters for the final quarter. Quinn Ewers was up-and-down, but finished with 260 yards and three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The defense held Rice to 176 total yards and only eight first downs. The competition will take a BIG step forward this week on the road against Alabama. Let’s see how that goes.
5. Kansas Jayhawks
The Jayhawks also rolled over lesser competition with a 48-17 win against Missouri State. There’s not much to take from this game given the competition, also because Jalon Daniels did not play. But he’s expected to return this weekend against Illinois in what will tell us much more about where this KU team is heading in 2023.
6. Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati reunited quarterback Emory Jones with wide receiver Xzavier Henderson. The two played at Florida together and picked up right where they left off. Henderson had seven catches for a career-high 149 receiving yards and one touchdown in the win, while Emory threw for 345 yards and five touchdowns with zero interceptions, while completing 19 of 23 passes. These two, combined with a strong front seven for Cincinnati could result in a surprise for many this season in Cincinnati.
7. Houston Cougars
If you had told me Houston would score 17 points against UTSA on Saturday, I would have predicted a 7-10 point loss. But credit to the Houston defense for holding UTSA in check and the secondary with three interceptions, including a pair by East Carolina transfer Malik Fleming, who was a Second-Team All-AAC player last season. Now the offense needs to improve from what we saw on Saturday, but the defense was a welcomed surprise.
8. Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State didn’t have to sweat anything out this week against Northern Iowa. The Cyclones got a comfortable win and did on the back of the defense that held UNI to under three yards per carry and 3/15 on third down. Rocco Becht got the start at QB and looked solid, but the star of the game was the special teams! Yes, you heard that right. Special Teams was a BRIGHT spot for Iowa State. When have we ever said that under Matt Campbell?
9. Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys got the win over Central Arkansas, but three quarterbacks played on Saturday. Garret Rangel, Alan Bowman and Gunnar Gundy all saw time, with Gundy getting the ball in the second half and leading the team down the field on two quick scores. His QBR was the best of the bunch as well. We’ll see what happens for OSU, but if they can figure out that position, there is talent around the QB to make this a fun season in Stillwater.
10. BYU Cougars
A win is a win. The defense was steady holding Sam Houston to 38 rushing yards and 2/14 on third downs. While the offense was hard to watch, there is room to improve things under Kedon Slovis as the season progresses. Southern Utah should be a lay up this week before Arkansas in Week 3.
11. TCU Horned Frogs
After a run to a National Championship last season, TCU started the 2023 campaign with a dud against Colorado at home, losing to the Buffaloes 45-42. It’s hard to find fault with an offense that scored over 40 points. The defense just couldn’t stop anyone. The second half was full of back-and-forth and lead changes on six straight possessions. Yes, six straight. Colorado will score a lot this season, but that side of the ball will need to dramatically improve it the Horned Frogs could lose a lot of high-scoring games this season.
12. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Speaking of high-scoring games, this was produced over 60 points as Texas Tech lost to Wyoming in overtime on the road. Tech jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and then fell asleep for the next 45 minutes in one of the more unexplainable performances of Week 1.
13. West Virginia Mountaineers
WVU did have the stiffest competition of the week, losing to No. 7 Penn State, but the game unraveled in the second half as the Mountaineers just didn’t have the offensive firepower to keep up. I have questions as to whether or not Garrett Greene can win at this level. He has pieces around him and a great offensive line, but it’s going to be an uphill battle for WVU.
14. Baylor Bears
Baylor was a four-touchdown favorite and lost to Texas State. The offensive line is a mess, I’ve never been sold on Blake Shapen and the defense was in shambles. Things could unravel quickly in Waco this season. Let’s wait and see.