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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Latest College Football News & Rumors / Big 12 College Football Power Rankings (6/12/23)

Big 12 College Football Power Rankings (6/12/23)

Publish Date: 06/12/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Spring practice for Big 12 teams has concluded, with most showing their stuff in some form of a spring game. Though full rosters won’t arrive on campus until later this summer and final products won’t appear until at least midway through their respective seasons, these looks have clarified what you can expect from each conference team.

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14) Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State’s 4-8 campaign last season came very close to something much different. Iowa State lost six of eight by just one score, and Oklahoma scored with less than five minutes remaining after an interception set up a late Sooners score. Hunter Dekkers must improve dramatically at quarterback; Iowa State must assist him by providing better offensive line play and an efficient running game as well. Defensively, though it may be difficult for Iowa State to match last year’s No. 6-ranked team (SP+ rating), they could still be strong enough for victory if their offense improves from 110th.

13) Cincinnati Bearcats

So don’t discount Cincinnati just yet: Emory Jones can propel them up these rankings quickly if he plays well at quarterback, much like Iowa State did last season when its defense was dominant while their offense fell short of winning games. Deshawn Pace may take to his new position well this spring; Cincinnati could still be effective defensively but won’t likely match Iowa State in terms of production — ranking last in both categories from last season including 121st on offense!

12) West Virginia Mountaineers

Keep in mind there’s not much separating these teams; should everything come together it wouldn’t be surprising for West Virginia to finish higher in the standings. Still, West Virginia ranked 10th of 11 returning Big 12 schools in SP+ last season and is 66th nationally regarding returning production. There’s an intriguing path here as West Virginia leans more on running game, led by quarterback Garrett Greene who needs to hold off Nicco Marchiol for control of handing off and running alongside CJ Donaldson who made his debut as freshman last season. West Virginia needs to improve defensively; players like Lee Kpogba and Sean Martin are great places to start doing just that.

11) Houston Cougars

Transfers will play a big part in this team’s fate; Lucas Coley hopes to make the transition from backup QB to starter, while Texas Tech transfer Donovan Smith challenges for the starting spot. West Virginia transfer Tony Mathis could become their starter running back; Houston added plenty of transfers throughout their wideouts, offensive line, and defense ranks; but how will all these newcomers fit together seamlessly this season? Houston ranks 119th overall in returning defensive production so this increase might not necessarily pan out perfectly and leave Houston as an imperfect team; yet. Talent awaits in Houston; now only time will tell.

10) UCF Knights

John Rhys Plumlee returns after compiling 2,586 yards passing, 862 rushing yards, and 25 total touchdowns last season. And he has plenty of support: from RJ Harvey and Demarkcus Bowman as running backs to Javon Baker leading an amazing group of wideouts. Transfers could add depth on offense while Jason Johnson, Tre’Mon Morris-Brash, Ricky Barber, and Josh Celiscar try to shore up an otherwise inept defense; Johnson led all tacklers with 126 stops while Morris-Brash and Celiscar combined to make 30.5 tackles for loss while force four fumbles last season!

9) Oklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma State Cowboys: Post-Spring Riser. We were sceptical when Oklahoma State dropped from 6-1 with one loss at TCU to 7-6 last season, and their transfer portal woes hit hard. Yet we may have overestimated their demise; Alan Bowman may fill Spencer Sanders’ shoes at quarterback effectively this spring, and Mike Gundy praised Bowman’s quick learning of their offense quickly this spring. Moving towards more unusual fronts helped the defense play to its strengths while going against them in practice also helped their opponent’s players.

8) Baylor Bears

Last season, the Bears weren’t terrible offensively; however, they experienced a dramatic decrease from 2021’s team in defensive SP+, dropping to No. 62 this past season. Baylor appears to be rediscovering its defensive mojo this spring, with reports emphasizing team chemistry and energy levels. Unfortunately, Baylor lacks both of these components for being competitive; Blake Shapen was inconsistent last season, completing 63.73% of his passes for 2,790 yards with 18 touchdowns against 10 interceptions and ten interceptions. Furthermore, Baylor must rebuild their offensive line from scratch; talent exists here, and transfers could help, but time will tell whether this group comes together quickly enough.

7) TCU Horned Frogs

TCU remains one of the Big 12’s most formidable teams to predict, with much production lost along with players such as Max Duggan, Kendre Miller and Quentin Johnston, who were all instrumental to its undefeated season. Chandler Morris started last year as starter quarterback, which could pave the way for big things throwing to an impressive receiving corps that may or may not Johnston but is deeper overall than last season. So could TCU win nine or even more games if everything comes together?

6) BYU Cougars

Going into spring ball, Jay Hill received high praise. With BYU looking to improve their 95th-ranked SP+ defense from last season, all who witnessed BYU’s effort this spring in this regard were unanimous in their admiration of him and what they saw from BYU’s defense this spring. Confidence and hitting hard are great starts; now, they must continue on Saturdays. Much depends on how quickly the Cougars’ transfers adjust. Kedon Slovis hasn’t had an outstanding track record at USC or Pittsburgh over his three years with either organization, though his form as a freshman saw him throw for 3,502 yards and 30 touchdowns is undeniable. UNLV transfer Aidan Robbins boasted 1,009 rushing yards and ten total touchdowns last season as an unattached back. Can Aidan Robbins match that against an offensive line with multiple transfer starters?

5) Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas appears likely to secure back-to-back bowl games, ranking second nationally in returning production overall with their No. 1 offense — 10-of-11 starters and most of its depth returned from an SP+ top 10 offense — and No. 10 defense, both boasting outstanding production returns. Kansas addressed any gaps in production through transfers, such as former five-star recruit Logan Brown joining their offensive line as two offensive line transfers, with four other transfer transfers also having previously played at Power Five schools aiding its defensive build-up process.

4) Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech possesses all the components to emerge as a dark horse Big 12 contender. Joey McGuire’s inaugural season saw Texas Tech show more physicality and toughness than in previous years; though losing Tyree Wilson was challenging due to an injury which limited him late in the season; Steve Linton is likely another big-time defender; Tyler Shough could offer dynamic receiving corps for Tahj Brooks; Texas Tech has everything they need to be a dangerous team and make some noise in this upcoming season!

3) Oklahoma Sooners

Las Vegas has taken notice of the Oklahoma Sooners, who posted a 6-7 record last season and have an identical projected win total as the Texas Longhorns at 9.5. There are good reasons for betting on Oklahoma: for one thing, Brent Venables’ defense may improve following its relatively mediocre debut season with experience and knowledge building within his system and with players like Dasan McCullough becoming available via transfer portal signings; plus Dillon Gabriel should find success under center as an offensive quarterback again.

2) Kansas State Wildcats

Kansas State may have lost key contributors from last season’s Big 12 championship run like Deuce Vaughn and Felix Anudike-Uzomah, but don’t despair: one of the undersold stories last season was quarterback Will Howard’s rise into stardom with an outstanding backfield that includes Florida State transfer Treshaun Ward running behind an All-American Cooper Beebe-led offensive line and linebacker Daniel Green leading a defense that has some youth but also increased depth and talent levels over time – giving Kansas State the potential needed to go all the way again and win another Big 12 title this time around!

1) Texas Longhorns

Texas Longhorns’ spring performance exemplified what one could call a Big 12 favorite and possible national contender: big, physical up front with offensive linemen who excelled despite their youth last season, fantastic playmakers in Quinn Ewers as a quarterback and an improved defense that returned 63% of its production from 2022. The Longhorns look ready to make some noise nationally.

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