KU rises, Cincinnati and BYU surge in latest Big 12 power rankings; Texas remains No. 1

photo by: AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

Texas wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) gestures to the crowd after a touchdown against Alabama during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

After a statement road win at Alabama, Texas is the unanimous top team in this week’s Big 12 Conference power rankings.

The Longhorns, whose 34-24 win over the Crimson Tide catapulted them to No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll, received all 14 first-place votes from a panel of beat reporters who regularly cover the Big 12.

Kansas moved up a spot to No. 4 following its own win over Illinois. Conference newcomers Cincinnati and BYU moved up three spots each, and Houston and Texas Tech slid in the rankings.

1. Texas

Previous ranking: 1

Points: 196 (14 first-place votes)

Record: 2-0

Last week: defeated Alabama, 34-24

This week: vs. Wyoming

Comment: The hype train has reached full speed in Austin after quarterback Quinn Ewers and the Longhorns dominated big, bad Bama in the fourth quarter.

Did you know? Before its win in Tuscaloosa Saturday, Texas hadn’t beaten a top-3 team on the road since a win over Arkansas in 1969. – Thomas Jones, Austin American-Statesman

2. Kansas State

Previous ranking: 3

Points: 175

Record: 2-0

Last week: defeated Troy, 42-13

This week: at Missouri

Comment: Kansas State lost Felix Anudike-Uzomah to the NFL, but that hasn’t stopped its defensive line from piling up 20 tackles for loss through two games. It’s going to be hard for most teams to move the ball on the Wildcats this season, which is bad news for the rest of the Big 12 because quarterback Will Howard has already led the offense to 87 points.

Did you know? Howard is tied for the national lead with 27.0 points responsible per game. – Kellis Robinett, Wichita Eagle/Kansas City Star

3. Oklahoma

Previous ranking: 2

Points: 170

Record: 2-0

Last week: defeated SMU, 28-11

This week: at Tulsa

Comment: The final score was not indicative with how close Saturday’s game was between the schools. The Sooners only led 14-11 with 12 minutes remaining in regulation before scoring a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. OU attempted no deep passes while trying to establish the run game against the Mustangs.

Did you know? Former Baylor coach Art Briles, who was ousted in 2016 amid a sexual assault scandal in the Baylor program, was invited onto the field after Saturday’s game by his son-in-law, OU offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. This sparked some backlash among fans, and athletic director Joe Castiglione said in a statement that he was “just as disappointed as many of our fans” and that the situation “shouldn’t have happened and it was my expectation it never would, based on boundaries we previously set.” Lebby, during a news conference Monday, apologized for the “distraction” and said it wouldn’t happen again. – Eric Bailey, Tulsa World

4. Kansas

Previous ranking: 5

Points: 149

Record: 2-0

Last week: defeated Illinois, 34-23

This week: at Nevada

Comment: All of the attention on the return of quarterback Jalon Daniels — who did make some truly exceptional throws in his season debut — tends to distract from the continuing production of resurgent running back duo Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw Jr. Each racked up at least 100 yards and a touchdown against what was expected to be a stout Illinois defensive line.

Did you know? The Kansas pass rush, long considered a weakness of this year’s team, tallied six sacks in a game for the first time in nearly 14 years. – Henry Greenstein, Lawrence Journal-World

5. UCF

Previous ranking: 4

Points: 134

Record: 2-0

Last week: defeated Boise State, 18-16

This week: vs. Villanova

Comment: UCF needed a walk-off 40-yard field goal by Colton Boomer to earn its come-from-behind win at Boise State. The team trailed much of the game before rallying in the fourth quarter. Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee suffered a leg injury while trying to slide out of bounds on the third-to-last play of the game. He’ll miss several weeks but surgery is not required.

Did you know? UCF backup Timmy McClain, a transfer from former rival USF, will replace Plumlee in the starting quarterback role. — Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

T6. Oklahoma State

Previous ranking: 6

Points: 111

Record: 2-0

Last week: defeated Arizona State, 27-15

This week: vs. South Alabama

Comment: The Cowboys trotted out all three quarterbacks, Alan Bowman, Gunnar Gundy and Garret Rangel, once again, and they combined to go 22-of-32 for 191 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. But the emergence of the run game was the more important part of the rally. OSU rushed for 113 yards, all in the second half, after trailing 15-10 at the break.

Did you know? The Cowboys shut out Arizona State in the second half after some defensive miscues piled up in the first. OSU allowed touchdown drives that covered a combined 152 yards, but the Sun Devils had 125 total yards on their other nine possessions. – Scott Wright, The Oklahoman

photo by: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Cincinnati quarterback Emory Jones (5) throws a pass during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023.

T6. Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 9

Points: 111

Record: 2-0

Last week: defeated Pittsburgh, 27-21

This week: vs. Miami (Ohio)

Comment: In a key nonconference win, the Bearcats took down Pitt on the road at Acrisure Stadium in the first meeting of the former Big East squads since 2012. Running back Corey Kiner led the rushing attack with a career-high 153 yards and a touchdown and was able to ice the game late on the ground with first downs.

Did you know? Cincinnati faces local rival Miami University on Saturday at Nippert Stadium. The Bearcats haven’t lost to their regional rivals since 2005. Last year Miami briefly led 17-7 before the Bearcats scored 31 unanswered points to win 38-17 at Paycor Stadium (home of the Cincinnati Bengals). – Scott Springer, Cincinnati Enquirer

8. TCU

Previous ranking: 7

Points: 109

Record: 1-1

Last week: defeated Nicholls State 41-6

This week: at Houston

Comment: After their blowout win over the Colonels, the Horned Frogs will be hitting the road for the first time. Chandler Morris was nearly flawless, completing 26 of his 30 pass attempts and adding three touchdowns. TCU kept Nicholls State out of the endzone.

Did you know? TCU has had a special teams block two weeks in a row. The Horned Frogs blocked a field goal against Colorado and a punt against Nicholls State that was returned for a touchdown. – Steven Johnson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

9. BYU

Previous ranking: 12

Points: 76

Record: 2-0

Last week: defeated Southern Utah, 41-16

This week: at Arkansas

Comment: Kedon Slovis, the former USC quarterback, lived up to expectations — he threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns. But concerns remain for BYU’s rushing attack.

Did you know? When BYU played Arkansas last year in Provo, the Cougars gave up 644 yards and 52 points. – Kevin Reynolds, The Salt Lake Tribune

10. Texas Tech

Previous ranking: 8

Points: 72

Record: 0-2

Last week: lost to Oregon, 38-30

This week: vs. Tarleton State

Comment: The Red Raiders will have to get used to being in the bottom half of the rankings, because they failed the first two tests of the season and don’t have a needle-moving opponent for another month.

Did you know? Texas Tech went 4-0 in one-score games last season but is 0-2 in such games so far in 2023. – Nathan Giese, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

11. Iowa State

Previous ranking: 11

Points: 49

Record: 1-1

Last week: lost to Iowa, 20-13

This week: at Ohio

Comment: A missed field goal on the opening drive and a pick-six from quarterback Rocco Becht doomed the Cyclones against their in-state rivals, the Hawkeyes, for the seventh time in the past eight meetings.

Did you know? If Iowa State can win on the road in Athens, it will be 2-1 after its nonconference slate for the fifth time in head coach Matt Campbell’s seven-plus seasons. – Rob Gray, Cedar Rapids Gazette

12. Houston

Previous ranking: 10

Points: 43

Record: 1-1

Last week: lost to Rice, 43-41 in double overtime

This week: vs. TCU

Comment: Another slow offensive start – and the defense’s inability to make a stop – put the Cougars in a 28-0 hole. A furious comeback fell short as Houston lost to crosstown rival Rice for the first time since 2010, which has renewed talk about the future of coach Dana Holgorsen. “There’s a little black cloud over where we are at right now,” Holgorsen said as the Cougars prepare to make their Big 12 debut. In an effort to refocus, team captains called a players-only meeting that was held Tuesday.

Did you know? Houston has won the last four debuts in a new conference: Missouri Valley (1951), Southwest Conference (1976), Conference USA (1996) and American Athletic (2013). – Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

13. West Virginia

Previous ranking: 14

Points: 36

Record: 1-1

Last week: defeated Duquesne, 56-17

This week: vs. Pittsburgh

Comment: West Virginia overcame a slow start and a two-hour weather delay to put up the expected result against an FCS opponent. A win in the Backyard Brawl this week would have the Mountaineers feeling pretty good about themselves heading into conference play.

Did you know? Against Duquesne, Garrett Greene became the first WVU quarterback to throw four touchdown passes in a game during head coach Neal Brown’s five-year tenure. – Cody Nespor, Morgantown Dominion Post

14. Baylor

Previous ranking: 13

Points: 31

Record: 0-2

Last week: lost to Utah, 20-13

This week: vs. Long Island

Comment: The Bears took plenty of steps forward in their one-possession loss to Utah. The offensive line was more consistent for the most part, and true freshmen like Caden Jenkins and DJ Coleman helped shore up the secondary. Still, the Utes scored 14 points in the final two minutes, while quarterback Sawyer Robinson threw two backbreaking interceptions in his first-ever start. Starting quarterback Blake Shapen is expected to be out for two more weeks, and this week’s game against Long Island has turned into a must-win for the morale of the locker room.

Did you know? Baylor has lost six straight games dating back to last season, the longest such losing streak for the Bears since 2017. – Zach Smith, Waco Tribune-Herald