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Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 0

Let’s get this party started!

The 2023 Big 12 season will be filled with all kinds of craziness that some of us may not be able to handle. We got Mormons, the last of the Bedlam Rivalry, new teams, and the last ride with Texas and Oklahoma.

The Big 12 is coming off a season where they were represented by TCU in the National Championship. Even though it didn’t turn out great, reaching the title game was an accomplishment. With the new season just days away let’s see who will start on top!

1. Texas

2022 Record: 8-5 (6-3 Big 12)

Entering 2023, the Longhorns have the offseason hyped once again. In their final year in the Big 12 will they ride off into the sunset with a Big 12 Championship trophy? They have the talent that’s no question, especially with Ewers ready for another season at QB. Their defense returns six starters and though Bijan Robinson will be missed this year, Texas should be able to make up for most of the production. One thing to watch out for is the QB talk. Arch Manning is in Austin, yes, but he’s not the starting QB (as of now). We know how Texas fans can be, will they be out on Ewers after a bad couple starts even if the team still wins?

2. TCU

2022 Record: 13-2 (9-0 Big 12)

TCU lost a lot of their talent from the National Championship team, but that doesn’t mean to just throw them down the rankings. Coach Dykes is expected to push for another Big 12 Title Game with Chandler Morris at this quarterback position. Morris challenged Duggan for the starting spot last year and earned his right for this season. With Duggan, Kendre Miller, and Quentin Johnston all gone, the offense might start a little slow. But with eight returning starters back on defense and the winning culture set in Fort Worth, TCU hopes to be back in the mix for the time being.

3. Oklahoma

2022 Record: 6-7 (3-6 Big 12)

Oklahoma at No. 3 makes the most noise in the rankings. They are the biggest wildcard in this conference. Coach Venables’ and Dillon Gabriel return after a disappointing season in 2022. Gabriel had a hard time staying on the field and Venables’ defense was a major hiccup within the season. On the positive side, Gabriel will have a lot of help in the backfield with Jovantae Barnes and Gavin Sawchuk at the running back spot. Venables also loaded up his defense with impact transfers to fill the holes that stood out last year. The Sooners were 0-5 in one-score games last season, and if they want to make their final season in the Big 12 memorable then they will have to win the close ones.

4. Kansas State

2022 Record: 10-4 (7-2 Big 12)

Starting with the negatives, the Wildcats defense and running back positions raise question marks into the new season. Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Felix Anudike-Uzomah, their two starting cornerbacks, and Deuce Vaughn are no longer with the team. With a lot of strong offenses in the Big 12, K-State’s defense will need to come together. On the offensive side of the ball, all five starters returning up front should help the running attack, especially with no Deuce Vaughn. Will Howard will finally have consistent snaps at QB after an on-and-off season backing up the injured Martinez.

5. Texas Tech

2022 Record: 8-5 (5-4 Big 12)

The Red Raiders have the offense to make the Big 12 Title Game. However, their defense is going to be the make-or-break type of shift for their season. They lost their top linebackers and defensive backs while already giving up 31.9 points per Big 12 game last year. At the skill positions, Texas Tech has the speed and talent to go toe-to-toe with almost anyone in the Big 12. They will be led by Tyler Shough at QB entering 2023.

6. Oklahoma State

2022 Record: 7-6 (4-5 Big 12)

There is turnover on both sides of the ball for Oklahoma State that clearly stands out. The Cowboys return just two starters on defense and will work with a returning new coordinator, Bryan Nardo. Coach Gundy has some options at QB, whether he decides on Alan Bowman, true freshman Zane Flores, or his son Gunnar Gundy. The team doesn’t quite stand out like it has in the past, but doubting Coach Gundy is never a smart business decision.

7. Baylor

2022 Record: 6-7 (4-5 Big 12)

Along with new transfers entering the fold, new coordinator Matt Powledge joins the Bears’ defense. Baylor surrendered 26.8 last year on defense and surely Coach Powledge will not allow that within his new system. Quarterback Blake Shapen will be looked to more often this season with decision-making, especially after losing four starters on his O-Line. If the Bears can get help in the trenches they could take a big step up from their 6-7 record last year.

8. Central Florida

2022 Record: 9-5 (6-2 AAC)

Entering Year 1 of Big 12 Football, quarterback John Rhys Plumlee and UCF should be one of the top dogs among offensive yards in the conference. Six starters return on defense, though they lost three in the secondary. The offense is expected to be top-notch, but if the defense can’t hold down the fort every now and then, the Knights will be in trouble.

9. Kansas

2022 Record: 6-7 (3-6 Big 12)

Coach Leipold brings back 10 starters on offense along with their star quarterback. With some question marks up front on the line, if the Jayhawks can manage that, than a positive season is in the near future. The thing holding the Jayhawks back from being listed higher is the defense. Kansas ranked last in the Big 12 in points allowed (35.5 a game) last year along with losing four defensive linemen.

10. Iowa State

2022 Record: 4-8 (1-8 Big 12)

Okay so Iowa State can’t throw to Xavier Hutchinson anymore, that’s not fun. New coordinator Nathan Scheelhaase takes the reins after an awful offensive year, averaging just 20.2 points per contest. Other departed offensive starters are both Dekkers and Jirehl Brock due to some gambling problems. The Cyclones have both JJ Kohl and Rocco Becht ready at the QB position with no sign of who will get the start Week 1 as of right now (my guess is Becht.) The defense was a masterpiece last season, thanks to Jon Heacock. They led the Big 12 in fewest points per game (20.3). Four key players are gone MJ Anderson, Will McDonald IV, O’Rien Vance, and Anthony Johnson, but the Cyclones still control depth at most of their positions. Their cornerback spot just might be the best in the Big 12 and one of the best in the country with Myles Purchase, and TJ Tampa.

11. BYU

2022 Record: 8-5

BYU has the chance to be the second wildcard in this conference behind Oklahoma. They bring in QB Kedon Slovis after a season at Pitt. Around him will be a solid O-Line and a WR core that, at best, is considered average in the new Big 12. A road game at BYU is tougher than what some may think and it usually plays towards an advantage for the Cougars. Nobody wants to face a bunch of 26-year old men in the trenches at 10:30pm on a Saturday.

12. West Virginia

2022 Record: 5-7 (3-6 Big 12)

West Virginia could be much lower on this list, but in a make-or-break season for Coach Neal Brown in Morgantown, he may find a way. Highlighting the offense includes both the solid group of offensive linemen and a depth-filled running back room. The defense really struggled last season and gave up 32.9 points a game. Coach Brown needs a positive season to keep the job and will he get it?

13. Houston

2022 Record: 8-5 (5-3 AAC)

There has been a ton of changes in Houston since the 2022 season. Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, quarterback Clayton Tune, and receiver Nathaniel Dell are all gone. They return just four starters on defense which allowed 32.4 last season. One positive outlook is Texas Tech transfer Donovan Smith who should put on a fun show at the quarterback position.

14. Cincinnati

2022 Record: 9-4 (6-2 AAC)

There are a lot of spots to be filled within the offense and defense for the Bearcats. On the bright side for Cincinnati, they return six starters on defense which will help out their first-year coordinator. It’s officially year 1 under Head Coach Scott Satterfield and what will he bring to the table? That question also includes which QB he will start, with the jury still out on Ben Bryant, Evan Prater and transfer Emory Jones.