Big 12 Power Rankings: ‘Embrace The Hate’ To Start 14-Team Season

Aug 29, 2023, 1:33 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – It’s time to kick off Big 12 power rankings for the 2023 season here on KSL Sports.

We will roll these power rankings out weekly on Sunday mornings here on, plus radio on KSL NewsRadio on the KSL Sports Zone. More on that in the coming days.

The 2023 campaign is a historic one for the Big 12. Legacy bell cows Texas and Oklahoma are heading out as they gear up for the SEC. Everyone in the league would probably love to send the Horns and Sooners with a farewell loss.

Just ask Commissioner Brett Yormark. Last week, the fearless Commissioner was speaking to Texas Tech boosters and told head coach Joey McGuire to “take care of business” on Thanksgiving weekend against the Longhorns.

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte has told his department to “embrace the hate” this season as everyone in the league blames the Longhorns for the ever-changing landscape in college athletics.

He probably shouldn’t say everyone hates the Longhorns. Folks at BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston are probably thrilled that Texas and Oklahoma are moving on as it meant they got the call to a power league.

Big 12 Power Rankings 2023 Season: Week One

We will take on that same approach this season with the Big 12 power rankings, as I’m sure this will draw some criticisms each week.

Let’s get into the power rankings heading into week one without further ado.

1. Texas (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: vs. Rice, 1:30 p.m. (MT)

Texas hasn’t won the Big 12 since 2009. That is the last time they were a preseason favorite to win the league. Everything seems to point towards Texas winning the league this year. If they don’t win with 16 starters returning, good luck in the SEC.

Rice won’t give Texas any headaches this week. The Owls haven’t won in Austin since 1965.

2. Kansas State (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: vs. SEMO, 5 p.m. (MT)

Underestimate Kansas State head coach Chris Kleiman at your own risk. The defending Big 12 champs open with a tuneup before a juicy week two game against Troy.

3. TCU (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: vs. Colorado, 10 a.m. (MT)

All eyes in college football will descend on Ft. Worth to watch the Big 12 showcase game between TCU and future Big 12 foe Colorado. Sonny Dykes versus Coach Prime. It’s a must-see game.

For Big 12 fans, it will be a must-see to watch the up-tempo attack with offensive coordinator Kendal Briles. Last year, TCU was among the nation’s best in explosive plays.

4. Oklahoma (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: vs. Arkansas State, 10 a.m. (MT)

Having the Sooners at four might be modest. But I’m in wait-and-see mode on the defense—something I didn’t expect to be writing in year two with Brent Venables as the coach.

5. Texas Tech (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: at Wyoming, 5:30 p.m. (MT)

Are the Red Raiders for real? They’ve got an intriguing game in primetime at Wyoming. Tech is leaving a day early to get acclimated to the elevation in Laramie. Lay an egg at Wyoming and next week’s showdown against Oregon doesn’t mean a thing in the national landscape.

6. Baylor (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: vs. Texas State, 5 p.m. (MT)

Baylor is a sleeper. Like many in this conference, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Baylor win the league this year. A lot rests on quarterback Blake Shapen, who was up and down last year. The good news for the Bears is that they’ve got a talented backup in Sawyer Robertson (Mississippi State transfer), who made it challenging for Shapen to win the job again.

7. Oklahoma State (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: vs. Central Arkansas, 5 p.m. (MT)

My belief in Mike Gundy always pulling off a big year when you least expect it is part of why I have Oklahoma State here at seven. The new defensive scheme with defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo from D-II Gannon will be intriguing.

8. Kansas (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: vs. Missouri State, Friday, 6 p.m. (MT)

Preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year quarterback Jalon Daniels will start on Friday night after navigating fall camp with a back injury. Everyone must wonder what Kansas could be this year if Daniels stays healthy for an entire season.

They still have Jason Bean as the No. 2 quarterback, who proved he is more than capable of winning games.

9. UCF (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: vs. Kent State, Thursday, 5 p.m. (MT)

UCF’s Big 12 debut remains scheduled for Thursday night against the Golden Flashes as tropical storm Idalia causes uncertainty in Florida.

10. BYU (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: vs. Sam Houston, 8:15 p.m. (MT)

Will BYU show that Independent schedules prepared them for the rigors of the Big 12? We’ll see. The first two weeks should be comfortable wins, starting with Sam Houston on Saturday in that coveted “fourth television window” for the Big 12.

11. West Virginia (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: at No. 7 Penn State, 5:30 p.m. (MT) on KSL 5 TV

I’m higher on West Virginia than most in the Big 12 media. They’ve just got a gauntlet of a schedule that starts on Saturday night in primetime against old rival Penn State. A solid showing in Happy Valley would benefit hot-seat coach Neal Brown.

12. Houston (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: vs. UTSA, 5 p.m. (MT)

A tough opener out of the gates for the Coogs. UTSA might be the best in the Group of Five this season. We will see the debut of former Texas Tech QB Donovan Smith calling the shots for Houston’s offensive attack.

13. Iowa State (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: vs. Northern Iowa, Noon (MT)

The low start for Iowa State is due to key personnel losses from the gambling scandal involving QB Hunter Dekkers and RB Jirehl Brock. Matt Campbell’s squad is young and doesn’t get any younger than the quarterback spot, with true freshman JJ Kohl and redshirt freshman Rocco Becht both expected to play on Saturday.

14. Cincinnati (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)

This week: vs. Eastern Kentucky, 1:30 p.m. (MT)

It’s a transition year for Cincinnati as the Scott Satterfield era kicks off year one. There are many unknowns with the Bearcats, but one thing is for sure: the defensive line is among the best in the league, led by Dontay Corleone at nose tackle.

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 in the Big 12 Conference on X (Twitter) and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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Big 12 Power Rankings: ‘Embrace The Hate’ To Start 14-Team Season