Power Rankings For BYU, New Big 12 Conference At Midseason Point

Oct 12, 2021, 2:09 PM
Big 12 Conference Power Rankings...
Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, BYU QB Jaren Hall, and Iowa State coach Matt Campbell. (Photos courtesy of Getty Images)
(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITYΒ – The BYU football program still has to wait two more years to be members of the Big 12 Conference officially. But why wait? Let’s see how the Cougars stack up with their future league foes right now.

Especially since we’ve reached the midseason point and BYU has a matchup against a Big 12 foe this weekend in Baylor. So there’s no better time than now to release some “New Big 12 Conference” power rankings.

Keep in mind; these rankings don’t include Oklahoma or Texas. Of course, there’s a chance BYU will face the Sooners and Longhorns when they join the league in 2023. Still, you have to imagine the lawyers at those schools are actively working behind the scenes to get their universities into the SEC sooner rather than later.

If the Red River rivals don’t make an early exit, they’ll be in the league through the 2024-25 academic year.

“New Big 12 Conference” football power rankings for 2021 season

Here are my 2021 “New” Big 12 Conference Power Rankings at the midseason of the 2021 college football season.

1. Cincinnati (5-0)

Cincinnati is a complete football team with one of the nation’s nastiest defenses, allowing only 12.2 points per game. Any thought of the Bearcats having a letdown after a big win over Notre Dame was put to rest in a hurry with a 52-3 beatdown of Temple.

The Bearcats have an intriguing game against future Big 12 rival UCF this weekend; then the next toughest game is a home game against nationally-ranked SMU on November 20. However, this year, Luke Fickell’s squad looks deserving of the College Football Playoff if they can run the table.

2. Oklahoma State (5-0)

Former East High star Jaylen Warren has emerged as the top running back for a Pokes squad that has jumped out to an impressive 5-0 start. There are questions about how good OSU is, but wins over Boise State, Kansas State, and Baylor is nothing to scoff at.

This week we will learn about the Pokes when they travel to Austin to take on Texas.

3. Baylor (5-1)

Last week, Baylor put together a nice bounceback performance against West Virginia, thrashing the Mountaineers 45-20. The “RVO” offense under Jeff Grimes is producing some big results at the midway point as the Bears are 16th nationally in explosive plays of at least 10 yards or more.

4. BYU (5-1)

BYU would probably be in the number two spot of the power rankings had they taken care of business against Boise State. But four turnovers will sink any hopes of winning a ball game, especially against a capable squad like Boise State.

QB Jaren Hall has proven to be a dynamic playmaker when he’s fully healthy. BYU will need Hall to utilize his legs again this week in a future Big 12 Conference clash on the road as an underdog against Baylor.

5. Kansas State (3-2)

Year three under Chris Klieman in Manhattan is producing the toughness that was a staple with his teams at North Dakota State. The Wildcats are seventh nationally in rush defense allowing only 86.4 points per game. They hung tough with an Oklahoma squad that had Spencer Rattler at QB, nearly pulling off the upset again against the Sooners.

The Wildcats’ other loss is against an undefeated Oklahoma State. K-State has two solid wins from non-conference play over Stanford and Mountain West title contender Nevada.

6. Iowa State (3-2)

The success Iowa State’s rival, Iowa, is currently experiencing at No. 2 overall in the national polls is likely Cyclone fans expected to see for their team this year. Unfortunately for the Cyclones, they sit in the middle of the pack of the power rankings due to the lack of quality wins so far.

Iowa State’s victories have come against Northern Iowa, UNLV, and Kansas. The two losses were against Iowa and at Baylor. A trip to Kansas State this weekend will tell us a lot about whether this team is ready to contend for another Big 12 title or if they are going to fold on the season.

7. TCU (3-2)

Year 22 of Gary Patterson in Ft. Worth feels a little stale so far, but there’s no reason to get down too much. The two losses for the Horned Frogs were against current Top 25 teams in SMU and Texas. TCU has Oklahoma this weekend in Norman against either Spencer Rattler or Caleb Williams at QB. After the Sooners pulled off a dramatic win in the Red River Rivalry, this could be a potential letdown spot for Patterson’s team to rise up and pull a stunner.

8. Houston (5-1)

Dana Holgorsen desperately needed to take advantage of this weak schedule the Coogs have this season. So far, so good for Houston, who sits at 5-1 after wins over Rice, Grambling, Navy, Tulsa, and Tulane. That’s not much to write about.

If Houston gets past home games against SMU on October 30 and Memphis on November 19, we might be looking at Houston at 11-1 going into the AAC title game against Cincinnati.

9. Texas Tech (4-2)

On the surface, 4-2 is solid for Matt Wells and the Red Raiders. But the two losses have been complete blowouts this season. Things aren’t getting easier on the schedule as the final five games include Kansas State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and Baylor.

The Red Raiders could be staring down a sixth consecutive losing season if they don’t get things fixed on defense, allowing 34.3 points per game.

10. West Virginia (2-4)

The Mountaineers took a step back last week in a blowout loss on the road at Baylor. WVU’s offense has been the issue as they are 71st nationally in scoring offense. Neal Brown’s squad hasn’t reached the 30-point threshold at all this season.

11. UCF (3-2)

Since losing QB Dillon Gabriel on the game’s final play in a loss to Louisville, it’s been tough sledding for Gus Malzahn in Orlando. The Knights lost to Navy on the road, who had been struggling mightily and then barely squeaked out a win over an improved East Carolina team.

UCF could find themselves with a losing record for the first time since 2016 after the next two weeks. The Knights travel to Cincinnati this week then host Memphis the following week in the Bounce House.

12. Kansas (1-4)

There are only 10 major statistical categories that the Jayhawks aren’t ranked 100 or lower nationally. Head coach Lance Leipold seems to be the right man for the job, but this is a rebuild that will take a long time in Lawrence.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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