The 2023 college football season is underway with the Big 12 Conference having some wild games to highlight Week 7.
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. Plus, 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 Power Rankings based on the most recent performances.
So with that being said, here are our Week 8 Big 12 football Power Rankings.
1. Oklahoma Sooners (Last Week: 1)
After one of the best wins of the college football season, the Oklahoma Sooners remain No. 1 this week after their bye week. If OU keeps up its level of play from the last month, this team will find itself in the CFB Playoff conversation. The schedule is favorable, but suddenly Bedlam looks more challenging than it did just two weeks ago (more on that below).
2. Texas Longhorns (Last Week: 2)
The Longhorns also had a bye week following their loss to the Sooners. Speaking of schedules, UT has back-to-back games against new Big 12 schools (Houston, BYU), and all four newcomers have struggled in Big 12 play thus far. Texas needs to pick up a couple of relatively easy wins and keep its big 2023 goals in sight.
3. Iowa State Cyclones (Last Week: 6)
Well, when teams No. 3, 4, and 5 all lose from last week’s Power Rankings, someone has to move up and take over No. 3. And I’m going with Iowa State. The Cyclones have continued to grow around a young core that keeps getting better. They went to Cincinnati and crushed a Bearcats team thanks to an efficient offense under Rocco Becht, a stingy defense, and special teams! Yes, special teams are playing a huge role in ISU’s success of late. This is not a team I would want to play as the season progresses.
4. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Last Week: 8)
The Cowboys were considered dead two weeks ago. It’s amazing what two straight wins will do for a program and a season for that matter. Mike Gundy is praising OSU fans and the atmosphere a couple of weeks after a growing percentage of the fan base wanted him out. I have no idea what to make of this season in Stillwater, but suddenly it’s working. Ollie Gordon is the powerhouse that makes it work, but obviously selecting a starting QB has been welcomed.
5. Kansas State Wildcats (Last Week: 9)
Speaking of teams that look completely different, how about Kansas State? True freshman Avery Johnson has completely changed the complexion of this offense after rushing for five touchdowns on Saturday night in Lubbock against Texas Tech. The Cats also have holes, notably on defense, but I know I’d be rolling with the kid at QB next week against TCU and see if he is the permanent spark this team needs.
6. Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: 4)
Kansas slides down after losing to Oklahoma State and just giving up way too many yards (554). They were gashed for nearly six yards per carry against the Cowboys. Kansas can score, even with backup QB Jason Bean running the show, but their own running game didn’t meet expectations, and then their run defense got hammered. That needs to improve fast.
7. West Virginia Mountaineers (Last Week: 3)
Some WVU fans didn’t want me to drop them too far, since they did lose on a Hail Mary. OK, but they still lost to Houston, who I believe is one of the worst teams in the Big 12. The fact that they were even in a position to lose on a Hail Mary is a bad spot. And the defense, which has earned high praise, got smoked, notably as the game progressed. Now it’s Oklahoma State this weekend in one of the more fascinating Big 12 games of the week.
8. TCU Horned Frogs (Last Week: 11)
The Horned Frogs finally looked like the team we thought they could be in a dominant win over BYU. Maybe Josh Hoover is the answer. If so, Chandler Morris will have been Wally Pipped for a second-straight season. Such is life. But now the competition steps up with K-State this week.
9. BYU Cougars (Last week: 5)
BYU got embarrassed on Saturday. This was a bad look all around for the Cougars, who were completely flat coming off a bye week. A pick-six and a fumble on the first two drives? Not a good spot for BYU, who of the four new teams, might be the best suited for Big 12 competition right now.
10. Texas Tech Red Raiders (Last Week: 7)
The loser of the Texas Tech-Kansas State game was going to have its season unofficially come to an end. Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, that was them. But the coaching staff didn’t do any favors for the team, notably third-string QB Jake Strong, who was being asked to win this game as a true freshman after Behren Morton left with an injury. It was one of the most bizarre coaching decisions of the season. This Tech team had Big 12 Title hopes, now they’re just hoping to reach a bowl game.
11. Houston Cougars (Last Week: 14)
Congrats Houston on Big 12 win No. 1! And it wasn’t just any win, it was a Hail Mary victory as your head coach beats his former team in one of the craziest college football games of the season! There’s still a lot left to be desired, but Donovan Smith keeps looking better running the offense as he gets more comfortable. Houston will probably find itself in a few more shootouts this season.
12. Baylor Bears (Last Week: 12)
The Baylor Bears had a bye week, so I see no reason to move them up or down this week. They hit the road to Cincinnati and the loser of that game is really going to feel bad about themselves.
13. UCF Knights (Last Week: 13)
UCF also enjoyed a bye week this past weekend following their blowout loss to Kansas. The Knights have looked Big 12 ready at times, but have also looked completely overmatched at times, as well. But now, it’s time for one of the best storylines of the Big 12 season: UCF going to Norman as Dillon Gabriel faces his former program as now a Heisman contender (potentially a favorite, if you ask Kirk Herbstreit).
14. Cincinnati Bearcats (Last Week: 10)
It was another tough performance for Cincinnati, as a favorite during Homecoming Weekend, the Bearcats were blown out by Iowa State coming off their bye week. It’s been a rough start to the Big 12 for Cincinnati, but they do have a winnable game on Saturday hosting Baylor.