College Football Power Ranking Has BYU As Last Place Big 12 Team

Feb 14, 2023, 12:39 PM | Updated: 12:44 pm

PROVO, Utah – The 2023 college football season is going to be a historic one for BYU. That’s because the Cougars will be a Power Five program for the first time in their history as a member of the Big 12 Conference.

A familiar knock on teams outside the Power Five structure is whether they can handle the weekly grind of a Power Five schedule. BYU has played a lot of P5s during their 12 years as an FBS Independent, but they are staring down 10 P5 opponents in 2023.

How will Kalani Sitake’s squad fare?

One power ranking forecasts BYU at the bottom of the Big 12 entering the season.

ESPN’s Bill Connelly released his first installment of the 2023 SP+ ratings. Connelly is the creator of the SP+, a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency.

The SP+ rankings for 2023 have BYU at No. 62 for 2023. That would be good for 14th in the 14-team Big 12.

Does that mean BYU is destined to have a bad season? No. If anything, it highlights the depth of BYU’s new league home that still has one more year of Texas and Oklahoma in the conference. But it also shows that an adjustment of expectations for BYU football could be needed in 2023.

Where Big 12 teams rank in 2023 College Football SP+ ratings

  • 9. Texas
  • 14. Oklahoma
  • 19. TCU
  • 22. Kansas State
  • 34. Oklahoma State
  • 35. Texas Tech
  • 38. Baylor
  • 39. UCF
  • 43. Cincinnati
  • 45. Iowa State
  • 50. West Virginia
  • 51. Houston
  • 57. Kansas
  • 62. BYU

Two big reasons BYU is so low in the initial SP+ ratings are returning production and recent recruiting. BYU’s recruiting rankings since 2020 have been ranked 82nd (2020), 70th (2021), 57th (2022), and 52nd (2023) by the 247Sports Composite team rankings.

Then with the returning production, losing Jaren Hall, Puka Nacua, Blake Freeland, and Clark Barrington are significant losses.

The good news for BYU is that they open Big 12 play against a Kansas team that is only five spots in front of them in the SP+ ratings. Then one week later, BYU’s first Big 12 home game is against Cincinnati, which first-year head coach Scott Satterfield leads. The Bearcats are No. 43 in Connelly’s initial ratings. So both games are probably toss-ups entering the season.

The non-conference schedule for BYU opens the season on September 2 against Sam Houston from Conference USA. Sam Houston is making the jump from FCS to FBS. The Bearkats rank No. 124.

In the following week, Southern Utah comes to Provo. The T-Birds are not in Connelly’s ratings as they are a member of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Then in week three, BYU goes down to SEC country to try and get revenge against Arkansas. The Razorbacks are No. 29 in Connelly’s ratings.

With Arkansas at 29, then nine conference games to follow, BYU has a lower rating than 10 of its 12 scheduled opponents in 2023.

BYU football opens spring practice on March 6, with a spring game on March 31 at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

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 Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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College Football Power Ranking Has BYU As Last Place Big 12 Team