Baylor Bears

Post-Spring Big 12 Football Power Rankings for the 2024 Season

Oct 14, 2023; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Avery Johnson (5) hands the ball to running back DJ Giddens (31) in the first half during the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium and Cody Campbell Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The college football calendar has reached a crucial stage. Spring football has come to an end, and summer workouts are approaching.

Hype season began a couple of weeks ago, and it will only grow as fans grow increasingly anxious to see how their teams will fare in 2024.

Spring provided a few answers, but the introduction of the spring transfer portal window also played a major role.

 

We did a way-too-early edition of our 2024 Big 12 Power Rankings back in January after the season came to a close, but much has changed since then. So, with that being said, here’s the post-spring Big 12 football power rankings for the 2024 season.

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Kansas State

1. Kansas State Wildcats

Way-Too-Early Rank: 4

2023 Record: 9-4 (6-3 Big 12)

Key Additions: RB Dylan Edwards, WR Dante Cephas, OL Easton Kilty

Key Departures: N/A

In our way-too-early Power Rankings for 2024, Kansas State was fresh off of losing offensive coordinator Collin Klein and had several questions to answer on that side of the ball. In the months since then, the Wildcats have answered those questions and did so with authority. Conor Riley will handle the offense, and he’s given Avery Johnson plenty of pieces to work with.

 

In addition to DJ Giddens coming back, the Wildcats have added dynamic playmaker Dylan Edwards, talented wideout Dante Cephas, and elite transfer offensive lineman Easton Kilty. This offense has the weapons to be one of the best units in the Big 12, and with the defensive and special teams culture that Chris Klieman has built in Manhattan, that’s a scary thought. Ahead of summer workouts, Kansas State feels like the best bet to win a Big 12 title in 2024.

Sep 17, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) runs the ball against the San Diego State Aztecs in the second quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

2. Utah Utes

Way-Too-Early Rank: 3

2023 Record: 8-5 (5-4 Pac-12)

Key Additions: WR Dorian Singer, QB Sam Huard, WR Damien Alford

Key Departures: RB Ja’Quinden Jackson, QB Nate Johnson

There’s a large contingent of people out there who believe that Utah will come right into the Big 12 and be the team to beat, and we don’t think they’re far from it. Cam Rising is easily the most experienced returning quarterback in the league, and he’s surrounded by tough, battle-tested veterans on both sides of the ball.

Head coach Kyle Whittingham is one of the longest-tenured coaches in college football, and for good reason. He’s one of the best program builders in the country, and he’s helped lead the Utes to two Pac-12 titles in the last three seasons. If Rising stays healthy in 2024, he could make it three conference titles in four years.

Oct 21, 2023; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys running back Ollie Gordon II (0) runs for a touchdown during the first quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

3. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Way-Too-Early Rank: 1

2023 Record: 10-4 (7-2 Big 12)

Key Additions: WR Gavin Freeman, TE Tyler Foster, EDGE Obi Ezeigbo

Key Departures: WR Jaden Bray

Oklahoma State continues to be doubted as legitimate contenders in the Big 12, and I just can’t seem to fit my head around why that is. The Cowboys return virtually everyone from a 10-4 season a year ago, including their best offensive weapon in Ollie Gordon.

Defensively, the Pokes should be improved in their second season under Bryan Nardo, with Collin Oliver and Nickolas Martin leading the way with some legit star power. While I don’t have them as the No. 1 team in the up-to-date rankings, I certainly don’t have them as low as Vegas does, with OSU having the seventh-best odds to win the Big 12 at this time.

 
Sep 9, 2023; Ames, Iowa, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Rocco Becht (3) throws a pass against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the first quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

4. Iowa State Cyclones

Way-Too-Early Rank: 8

2023 Record: 7-6 (6-3 Big 12)

Key Additions: DL Kenard Snyder, WR Isaiah Alston

Key Departures: TE DeShawn Hanika

After a 1-2 start last season, Iowa State ran to a 6-3 finish in the last nine games and proved once again that Matt Campbell is one of the top coaches in the country. Rocco Becht is the best-kept secret in the national quarterback picture and his offensive line returns all five starters from a season ago. Pair that with the return of his top two receiving options and Abu Sama III at running back and you’ve got the makings of a good unit.

Defensively, you know you’re getting a stalwart in the Cyclones under Jon Heacock, and that should be the case once again despite losing TJ Tampa to the NFL.

5. UCF Knights

Way-Too-Early Rank: 5

2023 Record: 6-7 (3-6 Big 12)

Key Additions: QB KJ Jefferson, RB Peny Boone, WR Jacoby Jones, EDGE Nyjalik Kelly, S Deshawn Pace, S Ladarius Tennison, EDGE Zavier Carter, LB Jesiah Pierre

Key Departures: EDGE Josh Celiscar, CB Jarvis Ware, QB Timmy McClain

Don’t sleep on the Knights in 2024. I’ve got them at five in the Big 12 power rankings, but I truly believe that the ceiling for this team is a Big 12 Championship and a College Football Playoff berth. I need to see that all the pieces can come together and be successful, but there’s no doubt about the talent on the roster in Orlando.

UCF’s rushing attack will be one of the best in the country with RJ Harvey and Peny Boone leading the way, and if KJ Jefferson can do what Gus Malzahn requires, the offense will put up plenty of points. Can the defense take a step forward this season? If the answer is yes, we could be talking about UCF as a dark horse playoff contender at season’s end.

NCAA Football: Alamo Bowl-Arizona at Oklahoma

6. Arizona Wildcats

Way-Too-Early Rank: 2

2023 Record: 10-3 (7-2 Pac-12)

Key Additions: DL Jarra Anderson, OL Michael Wooten, DE Tre Smith, RB Quali Conley, DL Kevon Darton

Key Departures: RB Jonah Coleman, CB Ephesians Prysock, DL Isaiah Ward, DL Bill Norton

After Jedd Fisch left to take the Washington job, it appeared that Arizona might get ransacked ahead of the Big 12 move. The losses of Jonah Coleman and Ephesians Prysock are tough, and it looked like things might get worse when Tacario Davis entered the portal. Then, Davis never left. Noah Fifita and Tetairoa McMillan stuck around.

Jacob Manu, Dalton Johnson, and Gunner Maldonado were the top three tacklers a season ago and are all set to return. There’s a ton of shuffling along the defensive line, but if the Wildcats can figure that out, they’ll be just fine. Noah Fifita isn’t getting enough credit for the kind of season he could have, and if he improves from his incredible freshman season a year ago, there might not be a better offense in the league.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Kansas

7. Kansas Jayhawks

Way-Too-Early Rank: 6

2023 Record: 9-4 (5-4 Big 12)

Key Additions: DE Bai Jobe, IOL Amir Herring, TE DeShawn Hanika, DL Darrell Simmons

Key Departures: OT Armaj Reed-Adams, DL Gage Keys

The biggest question for Kansas, and perhaps the Big 12 race in 2024, is whether Jalon Daniels can stay healthy. If he can, the Jayhawks will be conference contenders and could stack double-digit wins with one of the most forgiving schedules in the country.

If he can’t, then I don’t know what the floor for this team is. Jason Bean was arguably the best backup quarterback in the country, and he ran out of eligibility last season. Devin Neal is back, as is every other offensive skill contributor from a year ago. If new OC Jeff Grimes can put the pieces together, Kansas can compete in 2024.

NCAA Football: Duke's Mayo Bowl-North Carolina at West Virginia

8. West Virginia Mountaineers

Way-Too-Early Rank: 7

2023 Record: 9-4 (6-3 Big 12)

Key Additions: WR Jaden Bray, CB Garnett Hollis Jr., DL T.J. Jackson, LB Reid Carrico

Key Departures: DL Tomiwa Durojaiye, DL Jared Bartlett, LB Lance Dixon, DL Mike Lockhart, CB Hershey McLaurin

After a resurgent 2023 season, it appears that Neal Brown has earned some breathing room heading into next year. He’ll need it to get through another grueling schedule for the Mountaineers. The good news is that Brown has veteran quarterback Garrett Greene coming back, as well as CJ Donaldson and Jaheim White, co-starring in the backfield once again.

WVU will have to replace a few pieces along the offensive line and needs to address the loss of All-American defensive back Beanie Bishop Jr., but otherwise is in good shape to surprise the Big 12 once again.

9. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Way-Too-Early Rank: 9

2023 Record: 7-6 (5-4 Big 12)

Key Additions: WR Micah Hudson, OL Davion Carter, TE Jalin Conyers, DL De’Braylon Carroll

Key Departures: LB Jesiah Pierre, QB Tyler Shough, OL Monroe Mills, WR Myles Price, WR Jerand Bradley, WR Loic Fouonji

The 2024 version of Texas Tech is going to look much different than what we saw from Joey McGuire’s squad a season ago. There’s a ton of turnover on the roster in Lubbock, but the pieces that do return are key. Behren Morton will start at quarterback, while Tahj Brooks returns as one of the nation’s top ball carriers.

Defensively, Ben Roberts returns after leading TTU with 105 tackles a season ago. Jaylon Hutchings and Tony Bradford Jr. are gone, but James Hansen and De’Braylon Carroll should help offset their absence. In all, there are reliable faces in key positions on the field, so if McGuire’s staff can hit on the additions they’ve made, the Red Raiders can be a team capable of finishing much higher than ninth in the Big 12 standings next fall.

10. TCU Horned Frogs

Way-Too-Early Rank: 10

2023 Record: 5-7 (3-6 Big 12)

Key Additions: OL Bless Harris, OL Carson Bruno, OL Remington Strickland, EDGE NaNa Osafo-Mensah, S Jaise Oliver, DL Devean Deal, TE Drake Dabney

Key Departures: QB Chandler Morris

If there’s a team on this list that I’m afraid will make me look like a fool, it’s the TCU Horned Frogs. There’s not many teams in the Big 12 that can match TCU stride-for-stride in their portal activity this cycle, and there’s a precedence for them to make a surprising run through the league under Sonny Dykes.

Josh Hoover is quietly primed for a massive year in Fort Worth and if the Frogs offensive line can come together after a plethora of additions, there’s reason to believe that they could be a big surprise again in 2024. The additions on defense are interesting too, as NaNa Osafo-Mensah, Jaise Oliver, and Devean Deal should all be immediate contributors.

Nov 4, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) drops back for a pass against the Oregon State Beavers at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Chet Strange-USA TODAY Sports

11. Colorado Buffaloes

Way-Too-Early Rank: 12

2023 Record: 4-8 (1-8 Pac-12)

Key Additions: DE Quency Wiggins, WR Cordale Russell, EDGE Keaten Wade, OT Zechariah Owens, RB Dallan Hayden, EDGE Dayon Hayes, LB Nikhai Hill-Green, OL Payton Kirkland, OL Jordan Seaton, WR Will Sheppard, RB Rashod Amos, DE B.J. Green, CB Preston Hodge

Key Departures: RB Dylan Edwards, CB Omarion Cooper, CB Cormani McClain, RB Alton McCaskill, OL Savion Washington, S Myles Slusher, DL Chazz Wallace, S Jaden Milliner-Jones

Two things can be said for certain when talking about Colorado football in 2024. One, there will be extremely talented players on the field for the Buffaloes, as Deion Sanders has found a way to bring in some of the top talent from across the country. Two, people will be watching. Whether it’s to see them succeed triumphantly or fail miserably, people will watch.

Shedeur Sanders is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the country, and Travis Hunter is of the same ilk at wide receiver and defensive back. Will they have good enough play along the lines of scrimmage for it to matter? Only time will tell, but like TCU, this is a ranking that could prove volatile if things go right in the fall.

Dec 2, 2023; Detroit, MI, USA; Toledo Rockets quarterback Dequan Finn (7) throws a pass against the Miami (OH) Redhawks in the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

12. Baylor Bears

Way-Too-Early Rank: 15

2023 Record: 3-9 (2-7 Big 12)

Key Additions: QB Dequan Finn, OL Kurt Danneker, TE Michael Trigg, OL Omarrian Aigbedion, DL Steve Linton, DE JaQues Evans, CB Snaxx Johnson

Key Departures: QB Blake Shapen, TE Drake Dabny

Baylor head coach Dave Aranda is heading into a pivotal season and needs everything to go right in 2024 after back-to-back dud seasons. The Bears return 18 starters, added a true playmaker at quarterback in Dequan Finn, and addressed major needs on the offensive line.

Defensively, Baylor should be improved with Aranda having more interaction with that side of the ball this season, but they’ll need to improve dramatically on both sides of the ball to compete in this league.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Arkansas

13. BYU Cougars

Way-Too-Early Rank: 11

2023 Record: 5-7 (2-7 Big 12)

Key Additions: QB Gerry Bohanon, LB Jack Kelly

Key Departures: CB Quenton Rice, LB Chaz Ah You

Last year was incredibly frustrating for Kalani Sitake’s group, and 2024 could be more of the same if BYU doesn’t make wholesale changes on both sides of the ball. Gerry Bohanon has to be the answer at quarterback, and the Cougars’ defense needs Ben Bywater and Tyler Batty to play like All-Conference selections.

BYU hasn’t had back-to-back losing seasons since 2003-04, but that’s what Sitake and company are staring in the face unless they clean up their play defensively and find a way to score points more consistently this season.

Sep 9, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils running back Cam Skattebo (4) against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Mountain America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

14. Arizona State Sun Devils

Way-Too-Early Rank: 14

2023 Record: 3-9 (2-7 Pac-12)

Key Additions: QB Sam Leavitt, RB Raleek Brown, DL Jacob Rich Kongaika, DL J’Mond Tapp, DL Jeffery Clark, S Myles Rowser, OL Jalen Klemm

Key Departures: QB Jaden Rashada, DE B.J. Green, QB Drew Pyne, TE Jalin Conyers, CB Jordan Clark

Arizona State has their work cut out for them in 2024, but if Kenny Dillingham can get through this season, I believe there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Losing pieces like Jaden Rashada and B.J. Green are going to sting this season, and there’s a good chance that they’ll drop games that might’ve been differnt had they hung onto their playmakers.

However, additions like Raleek Brown, Sam Leavitt, Jeffery Clark, and Kamari Wilson will help offset some of that production. It’s likely to be a tough season in Tempe, but hang in there, Sun Devils. Your time will come.

15. Cincinnati Bearcats

Way-Too-Early Rank: 16

2023 Record: 3-9 (1-8 Big 12)

Key Additions: LB Jared Bartlett, RB Chance Williams, QB Brendan Sorsby, S Kyle Stokes, S Mehki Miller, OT Xavier Lozowicki

Key Departures: TE Chamon Metayer, S Deshawn Pace, S Bryon Threats, RB Myles Montgomery

2023 did not go as planned for the Cincinnati Bearcats, and Scott Satterfield probably doesn’t have too long to turn things around. After extensive roster turnover ahead of 2024, the second-year head coach hopes that he’s got a winning combination.

The biggest question is going to be what the Bearcats have at quarterback. Emory Jones wasn’t the answer last season, but early returns on Brendan Sorsby hint at major improvement heading into 2024. Does that mean a bowl is in Cincy’s future? I’m not ready to buy that just yet.

Nov 18, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars quarterback Donovan Smith (1) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

16. Houston Cougars

Way-Too-Early Rank: 13

2023 Record: 4-8 (2-7 Big 12)

Key Additions: OL Dakota White, OL Cedric Melton, OL Jake Wiley, LB Corey Platt, S Hershey McLaurin

Key Departures: WR Sam Brown, OL Tyler Johnson, DL Chidozie Nwankwo, WR Matthew Golden, CB Isaiah Hamilton

Willie Fritz will waltz into Houston with a tall task in Year 1: turning a 4-8 team into a winner after Dana Holgorsen’s departure. Donovan Smith will start at quarterback, but only one offensive lineman returns from a season ago. Defensively, Houston struggled a season ago and lost most of its playmakers.

2024 is a rebuilding year for the Coogs, but don’t write off Fritz’s squad. They’ll probably win a game or two that they shouldn’t.

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