Editor’s note: Each week during the 2023 college football season, the Deseret News will release power rankings that take a look at the 16 teams that will make up the Big 12 Conference beginning with the 2024 season.

These rankings will not include Texas and Oklahoma — as those schools are leaving for the Southeastern Conference next year — but will include Utah, Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado, the four Pac-12 teams joining the league next season.

With one week left in the regular season, three teams that will be part of the Big 12 Conference next year still have conference championship hopes this season in their respective leagues.

Everyone else? Well, it’s time to start thinking about the postseason — or hoping you can get one more victory to become bowl eligible.

1. Arizona (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12)

The Wildcats are hot at the right time, as they steamrolled Utah early in cruising to a win that keeps Arizona in the conversation for the Pac-12 championship game heading into the final week of the regular season. Arizona has won five straight, and rival ASU is struggling through a down year. 

2. Kansas State (8-3, 6-2 Big 12)

  • Poll movement: Climbed one spot.
  • Last week: Beat Kansas, 31-27.
  • This week: Saturday vs. Iowa State, 6 p.m. (Fox).

The Wildcats still have hope to defend their Big 12 title if some things can bounce their way in the final week of the regular season. That remained possible after Kansas State rallied from an 11-point deficit to beat rival Kansas. That loss to Oklahoma State earlier this season looms large, though.

3. Oklahoma State (8-3, 6-2 Big 12)

  • Poll movement: Climbed two spots.
  • Last week: Beat Houston, 43-30.
  • This week: Saturday vs. BYU, 1:30 p.m. (ABC).

The Cowboys have been a tough one to peg this year — they’ve had a couple head-scratching losses and they trailed by 14 against Houston before rallying. Yet here we are, heading into the final week of the regular season and Oklahoma State still has a chance to secure a spot in the Big 12 championship game.

Utah running back Ja’Quinden Jackson makes a catch in front of Arizona safety Dalton Johnson during a game, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Tucson, Ariz. | Rick Scuteri, Associated Press

4. Utah (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12)

A terrible start got Utah so far behind against Arizona that the Utes never really had a chance in Tucson — it was Utah’s second straight loss and third in four weeks after a strong start to the year despite all the injuries and player absences for the team this season.  

Utah and Colorado limp into regular-season finale
‘All happened in a blink of an eye’: Arizona’s 28-0 first quarter too much for Utah to overcome

It’s strange to think about, considering the Utes are two-time defending Pac-12 champs and Colorado was once the college football darling earlier this year, but there’s little excitement surrounding the final regular-season game for the Utes and Buffaloes in their Pac-12 era before the two teams join the Big 12 next season. 

5. West Virginia (7-4, 5-3 Big 12)

  • Poll movement: Climbed four spots.
  • Last week: Beat Cincinnati, 42-21.
  • This week: Saturday at Baylor, 5 p.m. (FS1).

The Mountaineers won for the third time in the past four weeks with the easy victory over one of the Big 12 newcomers. Now, West Virginia — once voted to be the Big 12’s worst team this season — could finish with a league record of 6-3 with a victory over Baylor next week.

6. Texas Tech (6-5, 5-3 Big 12)

  • Poll movement: No change.
  • Last week: Beat UCF, 24-23.
  • This week: Friday at No. 7 Texas, 5:30 p.m. (ABC).

A blocked extra point in the fourth quarter ended up being the difference, and now the Red Raiders are bowl eligible. That didn’t seem like a possibility three weeks ago, but Texas Tech has won three straight — all one-score games — and can just play loose against Texas.

7. Iowa State (6-5, 5-3 Big 12)

  • Poll movement: Dropped three spots.
  • Last week: Lost to then-No. 7 Texas, 26-16.
  • This week: Saturday at No. 19 Kansas State, 6 p.m. (Fox).

Give the Cyclones some credit — they were within a score against the top-10 Longhorns going into the fourth quarter, but Texas ultimately proved to be too tough. Iowa State has looked competitive most weeks in league play, yet faces one more stiff test against Kansas State.

8. Kansas (7-4, 4-4 Big 12)

  • Poll movement: Dropped one spot.
  • Last week: Lost to then-No. 23 Kansas State, 31-27.
  • This week: Saturday at Cincinnati, 5 or 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2).

The Jayhawks looked like they were going to spring the upset with a third-string QB starting, but Kansas couldn’t hold onto an 11-point second-half lead in losing to Kansas State. A game against Cincinnati gives the Jayhawks a chance to finish strong.

9. TCU (5-6, 3-5 Big 12)

  • Poll movement: Climbed two spots.
  • Last week: Beat Baylor, 42-17.
  • This week: Friday at No. 13 Oklahoma, 10 a.m. (Fox).

For the first time in a month, the Horned Frogs won to keep their postseason hopes alive and they have a moribund Baylor program to thank for that. Unfortunately for TCU, the obstacle between them and bowl eligibility, though, is the top-15 Sooners.  

10. UCF (5-6, 2-6 Big 12)

  • Poll movement: Dropped two spots.
  • Last week: Lost to Texas Tech, 24-23.
  • This week: Saturday vs. Houston, 10 a.m. (FS1).

The Knights appear to have the most likely path to becoming bowl eligible among the four new Big 12 schools, with a matchup against Houston in the season finale. UCF, though, had its chances to make that happen against Texas Tech but couldn’t close the deal.

11. Houston (4-7, 2-6 Big 12)

  • Poll movement: Climbed three spots.
  • Last week: Lost to then-No. 24 Oklahoma State, 43-30.
  • This week: Saturday at UCF, 10 a.m. (FS1).

Just imagine what could have been if the Cougars had been able to hold onto a 23-9 second-quarter lead against the Cowboys. Alas, Houston couldn’t, and chaos was avoided. Now, the Cougars will try to spoil fellow Big 12 newcomer UCF’s hopes of becoming bowl eligible.

12. BYU (5-6, 2-6 Big 12)

For the first time in four weeks, BYU was in a game late — that partially explains their jump in the power rankings despite a loss. The other factor? A lot of lower-tier teams from the future Big 12 lost big as well. It’s too bad a 14-point swing in the third quarter went against the Cougars, when Jake Retzlaff threw a 100-yard pick-six.

Cougars show they still believe with gritty effort in loss to No. 14 Oklahoma
Analysis: BYU hands No. 14 Oklahoma a Big 12 going-away present, coughs up football 3 times in 31-24 loss

BYU’s hopes for bowl eligibility now hinge all on whether the Cougars can beat the Cowboys next week in Stillwater. While Oklahoma State has lost a couple games it had no business losing, BYU is just 1-4 on the road this season. 

13. Colorado (4-7, 1-7 Pac-12)

  • Poll movement: Dropped three spots.
  • Last week: Lost to Washington State, 56-14.
  • This week: Saturday at Utah, 1 p.m. (Pac-12 Network).
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Colorado saved its worst for (almost) last, as the Buffaloes were blown out early and often by the Cougars in the season’s penultimate game. Now that bowl eligibility is off the table, what kind of energy will Colorado have in its matchup against the Utes?

14. Arizona State (3-8, 2-6 Pac-12)

  • Poll movement: Dropped two spots.
  • Last week: Lost to then-No. 6 Oregon, 49-13.
  • This week: Saturday vs. No. 16 Arizona, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN).

The season is almost mercifully over for the Sun Devils, who were routed again by a top-25 program. Arizona State finishes off its season with a game against rival Arizona and could, in theory at least, play spoiler to the Wildcats’ Pac-12 title hopes.

15. Baylor (3-8, 2-6 Big 12)

  • Poll movement: No change.
  • Last week: Lost to TCU, 42-17.
  • This week: Saturday vs. West Virginia, 5 p.m. (FS1).

Another week, another blowout loss for the Bears — this one came against a TCU team that still harbors bowl hopes. That is far from the case for Dave Aranda’s squad, which will finish off a forgettable season next week against the Mountaineers.

16. Cincinnati (3-8, 1-7 Big 12)

  • Poll movement: Dropped three spots.
  • Last week: Lost to West Virginia, 42-21.
  • This week: Saturday vs. Kansas, 5 or 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2).

The good vibes lasted for one week for Bearcats fans, but against the Mountaineers, Cincinnati fell behind by as many as 35 before scoring a couple late touchdowns. The Bearcats’ first season in the Big 12 — a rough one, to be sure — ends next week against the Jayhawks.

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