The 2023 college football season wrapped up its regular season on Saturday with the Big 12 Conference having some wild games to highlight Week 13, including blowouts and upsets across the board.
So now it’s time for our Big 12 Power Rankings. Here’s a reminder of 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 Championship Week Big 12 football Power Rankings.
1. Texas Longhorns (Last Week: 1)
The Texas Longhorns showed that they are a team on a mission with a 50-point blowout over Texas Tech on Black Friday. This team is in position to be a one-loss Big 12 Champion, which has typically been enough for a College Football Playoff appearance. But now it looks like UT will need help to get there. First, they have to win the Big 12 Title on Saturday.
2. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Last Week: 3)
The Cowboys always make it interesting. Always! Mike Gundy and the Pokes had to come back from 24-6 down at the half to beat the BYU Cougars in double overtime and punch a ticket to the Big 12 Championship Game. Ollie Gordon was, once again, the man, rushing for 166 yards and five scores. But can he carry them against UT? We’ll see.
3. Oklahoma Sooners (Last Week: 4)
Oklahoma finished the season with a dominant win over TCU. For OU, they still must be kicking themselves for the way things went in Lawrence and Stillwater earlier this month. The team from the last three weeks is clearly a Top 10 squad, but their mid-season slump let them down this year.
4. Iowa State Cyclones (Last Week: 5)
The Iowa State Cyclones won the Snowball edition of Farmageddon on Saturday. Abu Sama had three touchdown runs of 60+ yards and the story coming out of this game should be the progress Iowa State made with a young core during the season. This team has been rebuilt under Matt Campbell and will be a contender in 2024 in the Big 12.
5. Kansas State Wildcats (Last Week: 2)
Kansas State lost a stinker of a game against the Cyclones at home in the snow. That’s one that will hurt for a while since KSU gave up 42 points on just 35 plays and Iowa State only had a total of 10 first downs. Yikes. But Kansas State is going to a solid bowl game and this program is in a very good place under Chris Klieman.
6. Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: 7)
The Jayhawks wrapped up the 2023 season with eight wins, their first eight-win season since 2008. It’s incredible what Lance Leipold has done in just three seasons in Lawrence. And the best part is he is remaining loyal to the KU football program, which bodes well for the future in the new-look 16-team league.
7. West Virginia Mountaineers (Last Week: 8)
Neal Brown almost figured out a way to spoil a really good season. But thankfully for him, that didn’t happen, as WVU scored its only points of the second half on the game-winning touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter to avoid an embarrassing loss to Baylor. An 8-4 season wasn’t on anyone’s Bingo card for WVU, but now, Neal Brown has fans “Trusting the Climb” into bowl season and then 2024.
8. Texas Tech Red Raiders (Last Week: 6)
The Texas Tech Red Raiders were one of the biggest disappointments in the Big 12. Some of us, myself included (what a dope), had Tech competing for a Big 12 Championship back in the summer. Instead, Tech was competing for just getting bowl eligible in November. Tech has a really good recruiting class coming in, but the question with Joey McGuire hasn’t been recruiting, it’s been the coaching part of the job. That may still be in question.
9. UCF Knights (Last Week: 9)
UCF closed the season as one of the hotter teams in the Big 12, winning three of their final four games to get to bowl eligibility. And when you think about their close losses, UCF lost three games by a combined four points (Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech). A bounce here or there and UCF opens up Big 12 play at 7-5 or 8-4, heck, maybe 9-3.
10. TCU Horned Frogs (Last Week: 10)
The Horned Frogs had one of the most disappointing seasons in the league. It’s a toss-up between TCU, Texas Tech, and Baylor for being the biggest disappointment. But going from National Championship Game to not being bowl eligible is a huge miss by Sonny Dykes and the Frogs. Onto 2024.
11. BYU Cougars (Last Week: 13)
BYU was 5-5 and stared two games against the Oklahoma teams in the face, needing one to get bowl-eligible. They could not pull it off, but they put up a helluva fight in both games. Oklahoma went down to the wire in Provo, and then the Cougars went to Stillwater and took the Pokes to double OT before coming up short. The program needs some tweaks, but the foundation is solid.
12. Houston Cougars (Last Week: 11)
A foundation that was not solid was Houston. And on Sunday, UH fired Dana Hologorsen after an abysmal 4-8 season, including their last four losses which were by double digits. And of their seven Big 12 losses, they lost six of those games by 21, 23, 41, 10, 13, and 14. That’s six losses by an average of 20.3 points per game, and several were to teams who went 6-6 or worse on the season (TCU, Texas Tech, UCF, and Cincinnati). Houston is a solid job and we’ll see what direction the Cougars choose to go.
13. Baylor Bears (Last Week: 13)
The Baylor Bears were apparently considering letting Dave Aranda go after a 3-9 season, but on Sunday announced they would be keeping their head coach for the 2024 season. But boy, it was a rough year in Waco with only one home win … vs. FCS Long Island. Yikes. Aranda needs to better embrace some of the modern elements of college football and he will get at least next season to do that.
14. Cincinnati Bearcats (Last Week: 14)
Cincinnati has a long way to go to be competitive in the Big 12. Year 1 did not go as planned with a 1-8 conference record. The biggest mistake? Playing Emory Jones in the second half of the season instead of Brady Licheteberg. Scott Satterfield chose to try and lose games by 10-20 points, instead of giving the kid a shot and seeing if he’s your future, even if it meant losing games by 20-25 points. So now, Cincinnati is back to the drawing board having no idea who will be under center next fall.