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.


College football is in flux right now, as conference realignment continues to reshape the sport.

For now, though, there are games to enjoy with the 2023 season kicking off en force last week.

How do the 16 teams who will make up the Big 12 Conference next season stack up against each other? Here’s what we saw from Week 1.

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1. Utah (1-0)

The two-time defending Pac-12 champion Utes played the most high-profile opponent during Week 1 among teams in the future Big 12 and won convincingly. Utah also showed its depth, earning the victory with several starters out due to injury. Can backup quarterbacks Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson deliver another win at Baylor if Cam Rising (ACL injury) misses this week’s game?

2. Kansas State (1-0)

  • Last week: Beat Southeast Missouri State 45-0.
  • This week: Saturday vs. Troy, 10 a.m. (FS1).

The defending Big 12 champions had an easy time in their season opener against an FCS opponent. Will Howard threw for two touchdowns and added a rushing and receiving score — all in the first half — to pace the Kansas State offense. After a game this week against Troy, the Wildcats play their toughest nonconference game at Missouri.

3. Colorado (1-0)

  • Last week: Beat TCU 45-42.
  • This week: Saturday vs. Nebraska, 10 a.m. (Fox).

The Buffaloes made quite the statement in Deion Sanders’ debut as Colorado’s head coach, upsetting the Horned Frogs, who played for the national title last year. The Buffaloes’ overhauled roster was paced by Shedeur Sanders, who threw for a school-record 510 yards and four touchdowns. Can Colorado keep things rolling against a Nebraska team coming off a demoralizing loss to Minnesota in Matt Rhule’s first game as coach?

4. UCF (1-0)

  • Last week: Beat Kent State 56-6.
  • This week: Saturday at Boise State, 5 p.m. (FS1).

The Knights opened their Big 12 era with a bang, piling up 723 yards of offense in a blowout win over the Golden Flashes, while giving up just 239. Their next test will be more difficult, though Boise State is coming off a lopsided loss to No. 8 Washington.

5. Arizona (1-0)

  • Last week: Beat Northern Arizona 38-3.
  • This week: Saturday at Mississippi State, 5:30 p.m. (SEC Network).

The Wildcats got off to a strong start to the year, pulling away from the Lumberjacks in the second half behind four touchdowns from QB Jayden de Laura and a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. The Bulldogs await in Arizona’s toughest nonconference game of the season.

6. Kansas (1-0)

  • Last week: Beat Missouri State 48-17.
  • This week: Friday vs. Illinois, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2).

The Jayhawks led by just 10 points seconds into the fourth quarter but scored the game’s final 21 points in putting away their FCS visitors. Kansas did so without star quarterback Jalon Daniels, due to back stiffness, though he’s expected to play when the Jayhawks host the Fighting Illini, per ESPN’s Pete Thamel.

7. Cincinnati (1-0)

  • Last week: Beat Eastern Kentucky 66-13.
  • This week: Saturday at Pittsburgh, 4:30 p.m. (CW Network).

The Bearcats were met with little resistance in winning their opener, as transfer QB Emory Jones accounted for seven touchdowns. Up next is a visit to Pittsburgh, who’s also coming off a blowout victory over an FCS opponent.

8. Iowa State (1-0)

  • Last week: Beat Northern Iowa 30-9.
  • This week: Saturday vs. Iowa, 1:30 p.m. (Fox).

The Cyclones, coming off their first losing season in six years and embroiled in a gambling scandal, put away Northern Iowa in the first half of their opener before cruising to the win. Iowa, which sits just outside the top 25, awaits after beating Utah State last week.

9. TCU (0-1)

  • Last week: Lost to Colorado 45-42.
  • This week: Saturday vs Nicholls State, 6 p.m. (ESPN+).

The Horned Frogs are smarting after losing to Colorado in a high-profile contest that featured four lead changes in the fourth quarter. How will TCU, the Big 12’s darlings last season, rebound? This week’s game won’t likely tell us much, as the Horned Frogs face an FCS school.

10. Houston (1-0)

  • Last week: Beat UTSA 17-14.
  • This week: Saturday at Rice, 5 p.m. (NFL Network).

The Cougars emerged victorious in a tough Week 1 battle against a UTSA squad that is expected to make a run for the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six. Transfer QB Donovan Smith tossed two touchdowns, and now Houston will face another G5 opponent before kicking off Big 12 play on Sept. 16 against TCU.

11. Oklahoma State (1-0)

Last week: Beat Central Arkansas 27-13.

This week: Saturday at Arizona State, 8:30 p.m. (FS1).

The Cowboys played three different quarterbacks in beating Central Arkansas, a game that was a six-point contest before a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns gave Oklahoma State some breathing room. Future Big 12 opponent Arizona State awaits next. 

BYU running back Aidan Robbins carries the ball during a game against Sam Houston at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.
BYU Cougars running back Aidan Robbins (3) moves the ball during the game against the Sam Houston Bearkats at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

12. BYU (1-0) 

  • Last week: Beat Sam Houston 14-0.
  • This week: Saturday vs. Southern Utah, 1 p.m. (ESPN+).

On one hand, BYU’s defense took major strides from last year’s struggles by giving Kalani Sitake his first shutout as the Cougars’ head coach. On the other hand, BYU’s offense struggled with consistency in the season opener and gave the team its first double-digit lead early in the fourth quarter. The hope for BYU fans is seeing a more balanced effort in Week 2 vs. SUU.

13. Arizona State (1-0) 

  • Last week: Beat Southern Utah 24-21.
  • This week: Saturday vs. Oklahoma State, 8:30 p.m. (FS1).

The Sun Devils held a 21-7 lead at halftime before a nearly three-hour weather delay disrupted their Week 1 game. From there, Arizona State had to hold off a game SUU squad. A tougher matchup is next, with Oklahoma State coming to Arizona.

14. Texas Tech (0-1)

  • Last week: Lost to Wyoming 35-33.
  • This week: Saturday vs. No. 13 Oregon, 5 p.m. (Fox).

The Red Raiders, seen by many as a Big 12 dark-horse contender going into the season, started the year with a devastating loss. Texas Tech led 17-0 early before allowing Wyoming back into the game, then eventually lost in double overtime. It doesn’t get easier for the Red Raiders, with top-15 Oregon coming to Lubbock this week.

15. Baylor (0-1)

  • Last week: Lost to Texas State 42-31.
  • This week: Saturday vs. No. 12 Utah, 10 a.m. (ESPN).

The Bears seem far removed from their Big 12 championship two years ago at this point. Baylor not only lost to the Sun Belt’s Texas State, the Bears will also be without starting QB Blake Shapen for a few weeks with an MCL injury. Baylor faces a huge challenge this week, with the Utes rolling into town coming off a dominant win over Florida. 

16. West Virginia (0-1)

  • Last week: Lost to Penn State 38-15.
  • This week: Saturday vs. Duquesne, 4 p.m. (ESPN+).

The Mountaineers were tied early with the No. 7 Nittany Lions before a 24-0 run by Penn State put West Virginia away in its opener. Duquesne coming to town provides the Mountaineers the chance to bounce back with a win.