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 — who 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.


Five teams that will be among next year’s Big 12 Conference are still unbeaten through three weeks this season, though a handful of other teams were dealt difficult Week 3 losses.

Here’s how the 16 teams stack up following the latest action.

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1. Utah (3-0)

  • Poll movement: Climbed one spot.
  • Last week: Beat Weber State 31-7.
  • This week: Saturday vs. No. 22 UCLA, 1:30 p.m. MDT (Fox).

Another week went by with the Utes missing several key players due to injuries, and yet Utah won going away against its FCS in-state opponent. Nate Johnson looked good in his first career start at QB, while the Utes’ defense locked down Weber State most of the day. That sets up a fun Pac-12 opener against the Bruins, with the question, will star quarterback Cam Rising finally make his season debut?

2. Colorado (3-0)

As least for this week, after the Buffaloes had to rally to knock off rival Colorado State in double overtime, Deion Sanders’ program falls back to No. 2 in the power rankings. A huge challenge awaits Colorado this week with a trip to Eugene, where the Buffaloes will face the top-10 Ducks.

3. Kansas (3-0)

  • Poll movement: Climbed one spot.
  • Last week: Beat Nevada 31-24.
  • This week: Saturday vs. BYU, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN).

It wasn’t pretty, but Devin Neal ran for three touchdowns and the Jayhawks made enough plays to earn a road victory over winless Nevada last week. That sets up an enticing Big 12 opener with league newcomer BYU matching two unbeaten teams.

4. UCF (3-0)

  • Poll movement: Climbed two spots.
  • Last week: Beat Villanova 48-14.
  • This week: Saturday at Kansas State, 6 p.m. (FS1).

The Knights stayed unbeaten in their first game without injured quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, cruising past FCS foe Villanova. UCF will face the defending Big 12 champions in its conference opener and plays three of its next four games on the road.

5. Kansas State (2-1)

  • Poll movement: Dropped two spots.
  • Last week: Lost to Missouri 30-27.
  • This week: Saturday vs. UCF, 6 p.m. (FS1).

The Wildcats fell out of the national polls after dropping a close contest at unbeaten Missouri, where the Tigers won on a 61-yard field goal. First-year Big 12 member UCF will provide another tough test for Kansas State this week.

BYU Cougars defense tackles Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Andrew Armstrong (2) at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

6. BYU (3-0)

  • Poll movement: Climbed five spots.
  • Last week: Beat Arkansas 38-31.
  • This week: Saturday at Kansas, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN).

It didn’t look good when the Cougars fell behind 14-0 to the Razorbacks just over three minutes into the game. BYU showed resilience, though, and made critical plays on both sides of the ball to earn an impressive win in SEC country. A tough challenge awaits the Cougars next as they play their first Big 12 conference game at fellow unbeaten Kansas.

7. Arizona (2-1)

  • Poll movement: Climbed one spot.
  • Last week: Beat UTEP 31-10.
  • This week: Saturday at Stanford, 5 p.m. (Pac-12 Network).

The Wildcats rebounded from a frustrating overtime loss at Mississippi State with a strong effort in a win over UTEP. Pac-12 play starts off for Arizona with a Stanford program coming off a loss to lower-division Sacramento State.

8. TCU (2-1)

  • Poll movement: Climbed one spot.
  • Last week: Beat Houston 36-13.
  • This week: Saturday vs. SMU, 10 a.m. (FS1).

The Horned Frogs have shaken off a close season-opening loss to Colorado with a pair of blowout wins, including last week over Big 12 newcomer Houston. TCU wraps up nonconference play this weekend against in-state rival SMU.

9. West Virginia (2-1)

  • Poll movement: Climbed four spots.
  • Last week: Beat Pittsburgh 17-6.
  • This week: Saturday vs. Texas Tech, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN+).

The Mountaineers, who were dead-last in these power rankings after Week 1, kept moving up to the middle of the pack with a nice home victory over the ACC’s Pitt. A matchup with Texas Tech to start Big 12 play is a good litmus test for how improved the Mountaineers are.

10. Cincinnati (2-1)

  • Poll movement: Fell five spots.
  • Last week: Lost to Miami, Ohio, 31-24. 
  • This week: Saturday vs. No. 16 Oklahoma, 10 a.m. (Fox).

The Bearcats lost to in-state rival Miami, Ohio, for the first time since 2005, breaking a 16-game win streak in the series for Cincinnati. The Bearcats will need a strong effort to avoid losing two straight, with the No. 16 Sooners coming to town.

11. Texas Tech (1-2)

  • Poll movement: Climbed three spots.
  • Last week: Beat Tarleton State 41-3.
  • This week: Saturday at West Virginia, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN+).

For the third straight week, the Red Raiders built a big lead early. This time, though, Texas Tech cruised to an easy win over FCS opponent Tarleton State, shaking off some of those second-half collapses from the season’s first two weeks. A trip to West Virginia awaits in the Red Raiders’ league opener.

12. Oklahoma State (2-1)

  • Poll movement: Fell five spots.
  • Last week: Lost to South Alabama 33-7.
  • This week: Saturday at Iowa State, 2 p.m. (FS1).

One week after an impressive win at Arizona State, the Cowboys fell flat in a home loss to South Alabama, where Oklahoma State was held to 208 yards of total offense. The Cowboys hit the road to start conference play at Iowa State, who’s lost two straight.

13. Iowa State (1-2)

  • Poll movement: Fell three spots.
  • Last week: Lost to Ohio 10-7.
  • This week: Saturday vs. Oklahoma State, 2 p.m. (FS1).

The Cyclones have struggled offensively in their two-game losing streak, having scored a total of 20 points the past two weeks. A matchup with Oklahoma State at home gives Iowa State a chance to right this ship a little in its Big 12 opener.

14. Baylor (1-2)

  • Poll movement: Climbed two spots.
  • Last week: Beat Long Island 30-7.
  • This week: Saturday vs. No. 3 Texas, 5:30 p.m. (ABC).

The Bears finally earned their first win of the season — against an FCS opponent — after a dismal start to the year. The challenges just keep coming for Baylor, though, with the No. 3 Longhorns next on the Bears’ schedule to kick off Big 12 play.

15. Arizona State (1-2)

  • Poll movement: Fell three spots.
  • Last week: Lost to Fresno State 29-0.
  • This week: Saturday vs. No. 5 USC, 8:30 p.m. (Fox).

These are desperate times for the Sun Devils, as they were forced (due to injuries) to play their fourth-string QB, former BYU Cougar Jacob Conover, for a significant portion of the second half in the loss to Fresno State. It gets worse, with the No. 5 Trojans coming to town. 

16. Houston (1-2)

  • Poll movement: Fell one spot.
  • Last week: Lost to TCU 36-13.
  • This week: Saturday vs. Sam Houston, 5 p.m. (ESPN+).

The Cougars’ first conference game in the Big 12 era was close at halftime, but the Horned Frogs outscored Houston 16-0 in the second half. Now, the Cougars head into their final nonconference contest on a two-game losing streak.