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2022 Big 12 Power Rankings - Regular Season Finale

The Big 12 Conference Championship Game is set, but how did everyone else pan out?

NCAA Football: Kansas at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

With the regular season complete, we come to the end of our Power Rankings.

Well, maybe not — we might do one after the bowl games — but at this points teams are who they are and we’re just here to button things up for the season.

Congrats to TCU for completing their streak to end the season at #1 in our rankings and undefeated, and thanks to Tulane for making the AAC championship game and making K-State’s loss look that much better. Also, eight current Big 12 teams, and 10 of the future 12 teams earned bowl eligibility by their play on the field. Not a bad season overall.

*All bowl projections are from CBS Sports

1. TCU

The Horned Frogs thoroughly dominated the Cyclones this past weekend, winning 62-14 and absolutely blasting an ISU defense that had been the conference’s best all season. It was really astonishing, especially after TCU’s offense looked less than stellar against UT and Baylor the last couple weeks. It comes at a great time for TCU to be hitting on all cylinders, with the Big 12 CCG on deck for this weekend. With a win, the Horned Frogs will be in the College Football Playoff, no questions asked. With a loss, it’s a possibility they can sneak in with a ton of help, but it’s more likely they’d end up in the Cotton Bowl or Alamo Bowl.
The Horned Frogs are currently projected to go to the Fiesta Bowl as part of the College Football Playoff and face off against Michigan.

2. Kansas State

With the 47-27 win in the Sunflower Showdown, K-State’s 14th straight in the series, the Wildcats locked up the second spot in the Big 12 CCG and are basically guaranteed spot in the Sugar Bowl. The Wildcats needed a complete game against the Jayhawks, and got assistance from big plays in all three phases of the game in the win. The offense continues to run efficiently with Will Howard under center, and the defense has managed to deal with some key injuries at safety. K-State has finished the regular season with 9 wins for the first time since 2014, and have a good shot at the first 10+ win season since 2012.
Note: the last time the Wildcats were in the Big 12 CCG, they entered the game at 10-3 to face an undefeated squad...
(11:00am CT, ABC)
The Wildcats are basically locked in to go to the Sugar Bowl and are projected to face off against Alabama.

3. Tulane

The Green Wave went up to Cincinnati and came home with a 27-24 win over the Bearcats to secure their spot in the AAC championship game. Tulane finishes their regular season at 10-2, their best since 1998 when they went 12-0, and just their fourth 10+ win season all-time. That record includes wins at K-State, at Houston, and at Cincinnati, so it’s not like they skated through an easy schedule. Much like K-State, their two losses came at home, including on the No. 22 UCF — the team they get to face again in New Orleans this weekend. Expect the Green Wave to be ready to avenge that loss in their first-ever appearance in the AAC title game.
(3:00pm CT, ABC)
The Green Wave are currently projected to go to the Cotton Bowl and face off against Penn State.

4. UCF

Despite being the second place team in the AAC and finishing 9-3 overall, the Knights have actually been basically locked in to the AAC title game for a few weeks — actually since they knocked off Tulane in New Orleans on Nov. 12th. The Knights had an early hiccup against Louisville, then in late October at East Carolina (to be fair, though, it was their first trip out of Florida for the season), and inexplicably lost to Navy a couple weeks ago. But they knocked off Cincinnati and Tulane, shut down an otherwise impressive SMU team, and managed to not stumble in the finale against a bad USF team — though they tried really hard to let the Bulls back in it after halftime. The Knights return to the AAC championship game for the first time since 2018.
The Knights are currently projected to go to the Independence Bowl and face off against Coastal Carolina.

5. Texas

After firing Tom Herman for merely being above average at Texas, it was looking like they were going to pay for their greed for a while with Steve Sarkisian. But he got the Longhorns to 8-4 this year, with a dominating win over OU and a closer-than-expected loss to Alabama in the mix. But losses to Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and TCU kept them in a position where they still needed help to get to the Big 12 CCG, despite a win over K-State to open November. They did what they needed to do, beating KU two weeks ago in Lawrence and Baylor the day after Thanksgiving to keep pace. But K-State won out, so the Longhorns will have to settle for third-place this year, and their third trip to San Antonio in four years.
The Longhorns are currently projected to go to the Alamo Bowl and face off against Utah.

6. Texas Tech

Congrats on a fourth-place finish, Red Raiders. Seriously. At the end of the first week of November, Tech was 4-5 and looked like they might even miss a bowl game with some tough games left. But they finished the season with three-straight victories to finish at 7-5 overall and 5-4 in Big 12 play, including wrapping things up with a 51-48 win in overtime over OU. It wasn’t always pretty, but the Red Raiders are going bowling for the second-straight season and things are looking up in Lubbock.
The Red Raiders are currently projected to go to the Cheez-It Bowl (the one in Orlando) and face off against North Carolina.

7. Cincinnati

The Bearcats lost more than a shot at another AAC title this past weekend after losing to Tulane at home. Despite being 9-3 overall and 6-2 in AAC play, the Bearcats will be idle this week for the first time since 2018. But the Bearcats will also be heading off to the Big 12 with a new coach, after Luke Fickell decided to leave Cincinnati after six seasons to take the job at Wisconsin. The Bearcats are a good program that should attract a good coach, especially now with the move to the Big 12 looming, but I’m sure Cincy would’ve preferred they enter the new era with Fickell still at the head of the program.
The Bearcats are currently projected to go to the Military Bowl and face off against NC State.

8. BYU

Much like Texas Tech, the Cougars were on the verge of missing out on postseason play just a few weeks ago, but emerged from a four-game losing streak to win their final three games to finish at 7-5 in their final season as an independent. They capped the season with a 35-26 win at Stanford this past weekend, but the Cardinal weren’t exactly good this season and finished at 3-9 overall with David Shaw stepping down as head coach after the game. Despite the winning record, BYU is still in a bit of a rough spot as they head into the postseason, and will need to replace at least a couple of assistants this offseason.
The Cougars are currently projected to go to the First Responder Bowl and face off against KU.

9. Houston

Houston was primed for a solid 8-win campaign after starting the season on the struggle bus...and then derped away a first half lead to fall to Tulsa 37-30 in the season finale. At least the Cougars weren’t playing for anything more than bowl position. 7-5 is still a solid season for Houston, but definitely falls short of lofty expectations for a program that won 12 games last year and was a preseason darkhorse favorite to sneak into the College Football Playoff. Despite the step back this season, Houston is still in a good place overall as they head off to the Big 12, though it might help if Dana Holgorsen can stabilize things in his program.
The Cougars are currently projected to go to the Boca Raton Bowl and face off against Wyoming.

10. Kansas

Congratulations are in order for KU after securing their first postseason trip in well over a decade. And for, as of this posting, managing to retain Lance Leipold despite several high-profile openings that he would’ve been a great fit for. The Jayhawks were a massively improved team this season, as evidenced by both their 6-6 record, their best since 2008, as well as the overall increased competitiveness in losses (except for the Texas game). They fell to K-State 47-27, but had created a tight game in the first half, and never truly seemed out of it until the 4th quarter. That’s a huge step in the right direction for a program that had been moribund when Leipold was hired really really late after the 2020 season.
The Jayhawks are currently projected to go to the First Responder Bowl and face off against BYU.

11. Baylor

The Bears opened the season as Big 12 favorites, but ended the season in 6th place after dropping their last three — a very tough finish with K-State, TCU, and Texas in straight weeks. Prior to the K-State game, the Bears were at 6-3 and still very much alive for a trip to the Big 12 CCG, but Dave Aranda’s crew couldn’t pull it together for the tough stretch run to finish the season. Though, to be fair, they did almost upset TCU and played tight with Texas in the first half. Regardless, the Bears took a big step back this season after winning the Big 12 last year, and Aranda and his staff need to put in some extra work this offseason.
The Bears are currently projected to go to the Liberty Bowl and face off against Arkansas.

12. Oklahoma

The only reason the Sooners aren’t lower this week is because their loss was to the #4 team in the Big 12 and OSU’s was to West Virginia. As we projected, the Sooners ultimately stumbled in Lubbock, falling, like their fellow traitor departing school Texas, by a field goal in overtime. The Sooners are going bowling, but this is easily the worst season in Norman since the season that got John Blake fired. Brent Venables’ job is safe for now, and it’s pretty easy to point a big finger at Lincoln Riley and the talent he talked into going with him to USC (or just leaving in general), but he’ll need to show a much more positive pattern next season, or he might not get to coach a game in the SEC.
The Sooners are currently projected to go to the Guaranteed Rate Bowl (the other game in Phoenix) and face off against Maryland.

13. Oklahoma State

Why is a 7-5 team so low? Because the current Cowboys squad is not the one that started the season 6-1 and as a favorite to repeat their appearance in the Big 12 title game. Since their win over Texas, the Pokes are just 1-4, and couldn’t even pick up a win over West Virginia on Senior Day in Stillwater. Oklahoma State is still a good program, but injuries took a massive toll on the Cowboys this year, and lack of a good succession plan at QB after Spencer Sanders was a big issue that Mike Gundy and his staff will need to rectify this offseason if they want to return to their 9-10 win expectation.
The Cowboys are currently projected to go to the Texas Bowl and face off against Kentucky.

14. West Virginia

The Mountaineers pulled off one last surprise on a cold and very rainy day in Stillwater, upsetting the Cowboys 24-19 and get Neal Brown his second 5-win season in four tries. It was such a strange season for the ‘Eers, who managed to beat three bowl-eligible teams among their five victories, but still lost to Iowa State. They even gave both TCU and K-State a run, but ultimately will miss out on a bowl game for the second time in Neal Brown’s four seasons. In a way, it feels like karmic retribution for a program that ran off Dana Holgorsen because they just didn’t like him or something. Brown’s seat is an inferno, but a ridiculously large buyout may save his job for one more season.

15. Iowa State

This has easily been Matt Campbell’s worst season in Ames. Sure, his team had a worse overall record in 2016, his inaugural campaign, but he was also dealing with cleaning up Paul Rhodes’ mess and had a much tougher early schedule. That team also won two Big 12 games. But after the 62-14 pasting at the hands of TCU, the Cyclones finish the 2022 season at 4-8 and just 1-8 in Big 12 play. That’s just plain not good. The defense was fantastic for 11 games this season, but the offense was abysmal for 9 games, and that’s just not a good way to win football games. They’ll really need to spend a bunch of time this offseason re-evaluating the QB room, and the offensive gameplan overall.

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