Way-Too-Early Power Ranking Of Big 12 Football Teams In 2023
SALT LAKE CITY – The Big 12 Conference is about to embark on a new era. An exciting period with four new teams and a defending National Championship Game participant.
A total of 14 teams will make up the Big 12 Conference in 2023. Texas and Oklahoma are assumed to be staying in the conference, but I’m sure they’d love nothing more than to bolt for the SEC sooner rather than later.
If that happens, it’s one final year with Texas and Oklahoma, plus a new beginning for four new members in BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston.
It’s a unique makeup of teams that will have no shortage of storylines. Especially with national runner-up TCU looking to build on its special season, despite the dud of a performance they laid against a far superior Georgia team in the National Championship.
Way-Too-Early 2023 Big 12 Football Power Rankings
With the season now put to rest, it’s just time to turn to the next season. So here is my way-too-early power ranking for Big 12 football in 2023.
8-5 in 2022
The Longhorns are loaded with talent in 2023. They should be the team to beat next season, even with running back Bijan Robinson moving on to the NFL. But can Steve Sarkisian lead a team to a conference championship? Texas was within one possession in all five of their losses this season, and they played a demanding schedule.
— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) January 5, 2023
Personnel-wise, a lot of attention will center on the quarterback spot. Does Quinn Ewers remain the starter, or does Arch Manning roll in and take over as QB1 right away? The storylines on the Forty Acres are endless, but this should be their best team in over a decade.
13-2 in 2022
What happened in the National Championship against Georgia should not take away anything TCU accomplished in 2022. This year, no one in college football could hang with the Bulldogs, especially after they had a close call in the semifinals against Ohio State.
But that’s now in the rearview mirror. So what’s the follow-up act from Sonny Dykes and the Hypnotoads?
— TCU Football (@TCUFootball) January 10, 2023
A lot more winning. Max Duggan is off to the NFL. But the quarterback situation should still be in good hands with the week one starter Chandler Morris returning to likely assume the QB1 spot.
The Horned Frogs have put together a top-20 recruiting class and are bringing back former five-star recruits into the program through the Transfer Portal.
It’s hard to imagine TCU coming anywhere close to a National Championship Game appearance, but they will be in the thick of the Big 12 Championship race next season.
10-4 in 2022 *Big 12 Champion
The defending Big 12 Champions are expected to have their entire offensive line returning in 2023. That’s an excellent start for a group that is looking to repeat.
What a feeling pic.twitter.com/WPDI6hJrpQ
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) December 5, 2022
Running back Deuce Vaughn is off to the NFL, along with QB Adrian Martinez. But Will Howard, the quarterback who took over for an injured Martinez, is back for one final season.
Speaking of the QB position, the Wildcats bring in one of the most heralded prospects they’ve landed in a decade in four-star Avery Johnson. As a result, the Wildcats will again be in the thick of the Big 12 race.
8-5 in 2022
Year one under head coach Joey McGuire was a huge success. The Red Raiders defeated both Texas and Oklahoma in the same season. Plus, McGuire has delivered on why they hired him in the first place. The former Texas High School football coach has delivered a class that might be one of the fastest in the country.
🔴 FAMILY ⚫️ pic.twitter.com/15is3azYqI
— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) December 29, 2022
Quarterback Tyler Shough is returning, which means the Red Raiders should be a trendy preseason Top 25 team.
6-7 in 2022
From 12 wins, a Big 12 title, and a Sugar Bowl victory to a losing season. Last year’s preseason Big 12 champs in Baylor took a big step back in 2022, finishing with six wins.
Head coach Dave Aranda let go of defensive coordinator Ron Roberts and brought in Matt Powledge from Oregon.
— Baylor Football (@BUFootball) December 28, 2022
More change has come through the Transfer Portal, where the Bears have landed some instant impact players in former BYU offensive lineman Clark Barrington and Oklahoma State running back Dominic Richardson.
Depending on the schedule, it’s hard to imagine Baylor having another losing season again in 2023.
6-7 in 2022
There will be mixed opinions on Oklahoma heading into 2023. Some outlets will likely have the Sooners as a Top 25 team because they bring in one of the nation’s best recruiting classes. Others might hesitate to put Brent Venables’ second Sooners squad in the upper crust of the Big 12. I’m in the latter camp.
“Keep your freaking head up. Square that jaw up. When you invest a lot, it hurts when you come up short. That’s a good thing. Team 128, the foundation’s been laid. My love for you, my respect for you, my appreciation for you doesn’t have anything to do with that scoreboard.” pic.twitter.com/uhSO3ONJXN
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) December 30, 2022
Oklahoma’s six regular season wins were the fewest in a single season for OU since John Blake was the head coach. That’s not good. Also, Oklahoma appeared undisciplined throughout the year, which might be the biggest cause for concern.
The good news is that the Sooners will have the same starter at quarterback for the first time since Baker Mayfield was in Norman. Dillon Gabriel announced he is returning to be QB1 once again.
6-7 in 2022
One of college football’s best stories in 2022 is built for more success in 2023. Kansas locked up head coach Lance Leipold to a contract extension, and second-team All-Big 12 QB Jalon Daniels was able to return from an injury to finish the season.
“The standards are higher.” 💯 pic.twitter.com/p9Xyjw4wL0
— Kansas Football (@KU_Football) December 29, 2022
The Jayhawks should be back in the postseason again in 2023.
9-5 in 2022 *American Athletic Conference member
🚨 This is not an edit 🚨
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) December 8, 2022
I’ve got UCF as the highest-rated newcomer in the Big 12 conference. The excitement of joining a Power Five league has led to many Knight personnel returning for another season. Highlighted by defensive standouts Jason Johnson and Ricky Barber.
Gus Malzahn and his staff have also done a nice job in the Transfer Portal. One of the key additions came on National Championship Monday, with East Carolina starting safety Jireh Wilson committing to UCF.
7-6 in 2022
What a wild season 2022 was for Oklahoma State. The Pokes bottomed out in a 48-0 loss to Big 12 Champ Kansas State, and they never recovered, losing six of their final seven games.
— OSU Cowboy Football (@CowboyFB) December 28, 2022
There are many questions surrounding this Oklahoma State team entering 2023. Longtime starter at quarterback Spencer Sanders is out after entering the transfer portal. Replacing Sanders is potentially former Texas Tech and Michigan QB Alan Bowman.
9-4 in 2022 *American Athletic Conference member
Are Cincinnati’s best days in the rearview mirror? We’ll see. Luke Fickell stunned everyone by leaving Cincy for Wisconsin. With Fickell off to the Big Ten, the Bearcats replaced him with Scott Satterfield from Louisville.
Welcome to Cincinnati, Coach Satterfield‼️
— Cincinnati Football (@GoBearcatsFB) December 5, 2022
All new hires take time. Fickell himself arrived with little fanfare, but the reaction to Satterfield seems underwhelming so far. Satterfield brought an offensive coordinator with Big 12 experience in Iowa State’s Tom Manning.
Still, Cincinnati has enough talent and a winning track record to compete in the Big 12. Former Florida quarterback Emory Jones comes in from Arizona State to lead the offense.
4-8 in 2022
Iowa State took a step back in its final record in 2022 without QB Brock Purdy. But Matt Campbell’s team still had the best defense in the Big 12.
— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) November 19, 2022
Outside of the regular season finale at TCU, Iowa State was close in every game they played. But the offense let them down.
Campbell let go of Tom Manning as offensive coordinator and elevated run game coordinator Nate Scheelhaase as the new play caller.
8-5 in 2022 *FBS Independent
BYU loses a lot of key players in Jaren Hall, Puka Nacua, and the offensive line. They bring Jay Hill from Weber State to replace Ilaisa Tuiaki as the defensive coordinator, which should see an instant upgrade.
It's going to be a 𝐁𝐈𝐆 year. pic.twitter.com/DErUZ9shDL
— BYU FOOTBALL (@BYUfootball) January 7, 2023
At quarterback, BYU is handing the reigns to USC/Pitt transfer Kedon Slovis. If Slovis can recapture his freshman form in 2019, where he completed 71% of his passes, BYU could be a big surprise in year one.
8-5 in 2022 *American Athletic Conference member
Houston was a preseason favorite to go to the New Year’s Six in 2022, but that didn’t materialize. The Coogs struggled out of the gates, dropping games to a pair of Texas Tech and Kansas out of their conference. In addition, the defense was a problem finishing 105th in total defense on the year.
— Houston Football (@UHCougarFB) December 24, 2022
Coach Dana Holgorsen has experience navigating the Big 12 from his time at West Virginia. He will look to replace talented QB Clayton Tune. The next Coog QB could potentially be Texas Tech transfer Donovan Smith.
5-7 in 2022
The most notable move for the Mountaineers was the lack of a move. Head coach Neal Brown is staying in Morgantown after a losing season.
— West Virginia Football (@WVUfootball) January 8, 2023
West Virginia has a new athletic director in Wren Baker. So the seat isn’t cooling down anytime soon for Brown. A winning season will likely be needed to hold off a change.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.
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