Big 12 Power Rankings: Who is in the title mix? There are so many options and BYU has a chance to spoil a few of them

It is a four-team race and BYU will play a key part in Stillwater this weekend.

(Jeffrey McWhorter | AP) Fans enter AT&T Stadium before an NCAA college football game between Iowa State and Oklahoma for the Big 12 Conference championship, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. BYU could have a hand in determining this year's championship game matchup.

Texas remained the unanimous No. 1 in the Big 12 power rankings entering the final weekend of the regular season.

The Longhorns received all 14 first-place votes from a panel of beat writers that regularly cover the league. One point separated Oklahoma and Kansas State for the Nos. 2-3 spot and Oklahoma State wasn’t far behind at No. 4.

Sound familiar?

Just like the Big 12′s tiebreaker scenarios, it’s anybody’s guess who will be playing in the Dec. 2 Big 12 championship game in Arlington, Texas.

1. Texas

Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) passes the ball on the fly during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

Previous ranking: 1

Points: 196 (14 first-place votes)

Record: 10-1 (7-1 Big 12)

Last week: defeated Iowa State, 26-16

This week: vs. Texas Tech (Friday)

Comment: After allowing a season-low nine yards rushing against Iowa State, a Texas rush defense anchored by tackles T’Vondre Sweat and Byron Murphy II as well as linebackers Jaylan Ford, David Gbenda and Anthony Hill moved up to No. 4 in the nation with 82.7 yards allowed rushing a game.

Did you know? Despite an impressive road win in Ames last week, Texas hasn’t yet secured a spot in the Big 12 title game because of the conference’s convoluted tiebreaking system. Texas hasn’t won a Big 12 title since 2009 and has only played in the championship game just once since then. – Thomas Jones, Austin American-Statesman

2. Oklahoma

Previous ranking: 3

Points: 171

Record: 9-2 (6-2 Big 12)

Last week: defeated BYU, 31-24

This week: vs. TCU

Comment: Quarterback Dillon Gabriel’s status is unknown heading into the Senior Day game against the Horned Frogs. The senior appeared to suffer a concussion and didn’t play the second half of the BYU win. If he can’t play, true freshman Jackson Arnold will get his first start.

Did you know? Oklahoma is the only school in the country to score 59-plus points in three games this season and one of three schools (USC, LSU) to score at least 50 points in four games. - Eric Bailey, Tulsa World

3. Kansas State

Previous ranking: 2

Points: 170

Record: 7-4 (4-4 Big 12)

Last week: defeated No. 21 Kansas, 31-27

This week: vs. Iowa State

Comment: The Wildcats picked up their first victory over a ranked team this season when they came from behind to beat the Jayhawks in the Sunflower Showdown.

Did you know? K-State will be rooting hard for Texas Tech, BYU and TCU this weekend. If the right combination of those teams win, and the Wildcats beat Iowa State, then they will advance to the conference title game. — Kellis Robinett, Wichita Eagle/Kansas City Star

4. Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State wide receiver Brennan Presley (80) runs up field after catching a pass as Houston defensive back Dorian Friend (35) and Moses Alexander (26) defend during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Houston. Oklahoma State won 43-30. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Previous ranking: 4

Points: 161

Record: 8-3 (6-2 Big 12)

Last week: defeated Houston, 43-30

This week: vs. BYU

Comment: Despite a slow start that put them in a 23-9 hole, the Cowboys exploded in the second half to pull away from Houston. Running back Ollie Gordon II, the nation’s leading rusher, had 164 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries, while slot receiver Brennan Presley had 189 yards on 15 catches.

Did you know? Presley’s big day bumped him into the top 10 on OSU’s all-time career receiving yardage list with 2,213 yards in his four seasons. The 15 receptions were one shy of the school’s single-game record of 16, set by Alex Loyd in 1949. – Scott Wright, The Oklahoman

5. Kansas

Previous ranking: 5

Points: 129

Record: 7-4 (4-4 Big 12)

Last week: lost to No. 23 Kansas State, 31-27

This week: at Cincinnati

Comment: The Jayhawks led 27-16 early in the third quarter Saturday as they looked to win a Sunflower Showdown for the first time since 2008, but mistakes in all three phases of the game prevented them from scoring for the final 28 minutes as they suffered another disappointing home loss.

Did you know? In a rather improbable development, KU running back Devin Neal and K-State cornerback Keenan Garber, who are cousins and Lawrence natives, scored on consecutive snaps Saturday, a rushing touchdown for Neal and a defensive conversion for Garber. — Henry Greenstein, Lawrence Journal-World

6. Iowa State

Previous ranking: 6

Points: 122

Record: 6-5 (5-3 Big 12)

Last week: lost to No. 7 Texas, 26-16

This week: at No. 19 Kansas State

Comment: The Cyclones ran for just nine yards in last Saturday’s loss to the Longhorns — their lowest output on the ground since rushing for minus-six yards in a 34-14 loss in 2010 at Colorado.

Did you know? Iowa State could record back-to-back road wins in Manhattan for the first time since the 1980s, when they won three consecutive games there in 1983, 1985 and 1988. – Rob Gray, Cedar Rapids Gazette

7. West Virginia

West Virginia quarterback Garrett Greene, right, scores a touchdown on a quarterback keeper during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Chris Jackson)

Previous ranking: 8

Points: 115

Record: 7-4 (5-3 Big 12)

Last week: defeated Cincinnati, 42-21

This week: at Baylor

Comment: The Mountaineers were dominant over their former Big East rivals. WVU ran for 424 yards behind true freshman Jahiem White’s 204 and Garrett Greene’s 154. The Mountaineers are eyeing eight wins for just the fourth time since going the Big 12 with a trip to Waco this week.

Did you know? Greene’s performance against Cincinnati was just the third time in school history a player passed and ran for 150 yards in the same game. The other two instances were both by Pat White. – Cody Nespor, Morgantown Dominion Post

8. Texas Tech

Previous ranking: 7

Points: 112

Record: 6-5 (5-3 Big 12)

Last week: defeated UCF, 24-23

This week: at No. 7 Texas (Friday)

Comment: With bowl-game eligibility out of the way, the Red Raiders can focus on closing the rivalry by keeping the Longhorns out of the CFP, which would be quite the parting gift.

Did you know? Texas Tech is heading to a bowl game for the third year in a row, the first time the program has done this since the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons. – Nathan Giese, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

9. TCU

Previous ranking: 10

Points: 81

Record: 5-6 (3-5 Big 12)

Last week: defeated Baylor, 42-17.

This week: at No. 13 Oklahoma

Comment: Josh Hoover had a near flawless game as he completed his first eight passes and threw for over 400 yards with three total touchdowns in a blowout win over the Bears. Jared Wiley had a career day with 178 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Did you know? TCU has won eight of the last nine against Baylor. – Steven Johnson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

10. UCF

Previous ranking: 9

Points: 71

Record: 5-6 (2-6 Big 12)

Last week: lost to Texas Tech, 24-23

This week: vs. Houston

Comment: UCF squandered a 14-0 first-quarter lead as Texas Tech scored 21 unanswered points. The Knights tried to tie it up after John Rhys Plumlee found Javon Baker on a 71-yard touchdown pass but Colton Boomer’s extra point attempt was blocked. It was the fourth conference road loss for Gus Malzahn’s team.

Did you know? RJ Harvey scored twice on runs in the Wildcat formation but finished with just 78 rushing yards, snapping his streak of five straight 100-yard rushing games. — Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

11. BYU

Oklahoma linebacker Danny Stutsman (28) tackles BYU quarterback Jake Retzlaff (12) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Previous ranking: 11

Points: 54

Record: 5-6 (2-6 Big 12)

Last week: lost to No. 14 Oklahoma, 31-24

This week: at No. 21 Oklahoma State

Comment: BYU’s running game stirred to life as the Cougars flirted with an upset in Provo. But three costly turnovers, including a pick-six at the 2-yard line, ripped away any hope of BYU downing Oklahoma.

Did you know? BYU needs to win in Stillwater to get to a bowl game. This would be just the second season in Kalani Sitake’s eight-year tenure missing a bowl, and the first time since 2017. – Kevin Reynolds, The Salt Lake Tribune

12. Houston

Previous ranking: 13

Points: 38

Record: 4-7 (2-6 Big 12)

Last week: lost to No. 23 Oklahoma State, 43-30

This week: at UCF

Comment: Houston let a 14-point first-half lead slip away in a loss to the Cowboys, continuing a spiral that includes four losses in the last five games. The Cougars will miss a bowl for just the third time in the last 13 seasons.

Did you know? The Cougars are 47-29-1 all-time in regular-season finales but have lost six of the last nine. – Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

13. Cincinnati

Cincinnati quarterback Brady Lichtenberg (16) is tackled by West Virginia's Marcis Floyd (24) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Chris Jackson)

Previous ranking: 12

Points: 29

Record: 3-8 (1-7 Big 12)

Last week: lost at West Virginia, 42-21

This week: vs. Kansas

Comment: The Bearcats were mashed in Morgantown by West Virginia as the Mountaineers led 28-7 at halftime and 42-7 after three quarters. UC had a pair of fourth quarter scores to make the game look like less a blowout, but make no mistake, it was a blowout.

Did you know? Saturday is Senior Day at Nippert Stadium, and the Bearcats will get an angry Kansas team coming to town who just lost to their in-state rival. An upset would put Scott Satterfield at 4-8 in his first year, the same record Luke Fickell had in his first season of 2017. A loss gives Cincinnati their first three-win season since 1999. In that season, former Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher was the Cincinnati offensive coordinator for head coach and current Michigan linebackers coach Rick Minter. - Scott Springer, Cincinnati Enquirer

14. Baylor

Previous ranking: 14

Points: 21

Record: 3-8 (2-6 Big 12)

Last week: lost to TCU, 42-17

This week: vs. West Virginia

Comment: Of Baylor’s four straight losses, Saturday against TCU was probably the most devastating. A Baylor touchdown early in the third quarter cut the lead to four points, but the Horned Frogs scored 21 unanswered points to win the 119th meeting between the two schools and take home the first Bluebonnet Battle trophy.

Did you know? Baylor has given up 40 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time since 2016 when it happened three games in a row. Head coach Dave Aranda’s record in Waco dipped below .500 (23-24) for the first time since the midpoint of the 2021 season, in which the Bears won the Big 12 championship game. - Zach Smith, Waco Tribune-Herald