It is never too early to look ahead at the 2023 college football season. Here is our first crack at how the power rankings inside the Lone Star State shake out for next season. There are 13 FBS programs in Texas heading into 2023 with Sam Houston transitioning to Conference USA.
1. TEXAS LONGHORNS
Let the hype train begin. It might even be deserved in 2023 thanks to the return of Quinn Ewers at quarterback after a year of experience, the entire offensive line, and a bevy of weapons that include JT Sanders, Xavier Worthy, Isaiah Neyor, and Jordan Whittington. Former Mr. Texas Football Jonathon Brooks heads up a young and talented backfield. If the defense takes another step and Ewers evolves, the Longhorns are the Big 12 favorite entering 2023.
2. TEXAS A&M AGGIES
There’s just too much talent in College Station for Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies to continue to underperform. New offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino is one of the best offensive minds in the country, and he’ll get the best from hotshot quarterback Conner Weigman. Weapons like Donovan Smith and Evan Stewart should also take a step forward as sophomores. The offensive line needs to improve, and the defense must get better in year two under coordinator DJ Durkin.
3. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
Joey McGuire didn’t waste any time reminding folks why he won three state titles in Class 6A here in Texas at the high school level. The Red Raiders knocked off Texas and Oklahoma, two future SEC programs, in the same season for the first time in program history. Texas Tech finished with eight wins and was over .500 in Big 12 play for the first time since Mike Leach roamed the sidelines in 2009. And that was just year one. The talent level is only improving in Lubbock, and a run at a Big 12 title isn’t out of the question in 2023.
4. TCU HORNED FROGS
Regression is likely for TCU in 2023. The Horned Frogs leapt into the national spotlight with a 13-2 season that included a 12-0 start and a win over Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl. But a lot of the best players are headed to the NFL, including Max Duggan, Kendre Miller, and Quentin Johnston on the offensive side of the ball. The defense loses Thorpe Award winner Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, as well. Sonny Dykes knows how to replenish a roster through the transfer portal, so don’t expect a huge dip, but eight or nine wins might be the ceiling in year two.
5. BAYLOR BEARS
Dave Aranda’s team dropped from 12 wins in 2021 to six in 2022 after losing stars such as Abram Smith, Tyquan Thornton, Terrell Bernard, Jalen Pitre, and a host of other contributors on both sides of the football. Quarterback Blake Shapen didn’t take the step forward many of us envisioned, and the defense struggled enough that Aranda changed defensive coordinators after the season. The Bears must find more playmakers on both sides of the ball and replace a few important pieces on both lines of scrimmage to get back to the top of the Big 12.
6. UTSA ROADRUNNERS
No team in Texas was better over the past two seasons than the Roadrunners. Jeff Traylor’s program is 23-5 since the start of 2021 and 30-10 in his three seasons at the helm. UTSA is the two-time reigning C-USA champion as it transitions to the American Athletic Conference. The Roadrunners received a boost with the return of quarterback Frank Harris, as well as receivers such as JT Clark and Joshua Cephus. Rashad Wisdom returns on defense. A step up in competition is on the horizon, however.
7. SMU MUSTANGS
A seven-win season was a success for Rhett Lashlee in his first year as a college head coach. We’ll get to see what Preston Stone can do at quarterback in 2023. He’ll be joined in the backfield by some former big-time recruits in running backs Camar Wheaton and LJ Johnson. The offense must find a no. 1 wide receiver to replace Rashee Rice, and the secondary must improve to give the Mustangs any chance at a conference title.
8. HOUSTON COUGARS
The whiplash experienced by Houston fans is understandable. The Cougars went on a magical run in 2021 to win 11-straight in the regular season and set up lofty expectations heading into 2022. Those weren’t met, however, as Houston struggled to an eight-win season that included five losses. Dana Holgorsen’s club now enters the Big 12 in 2023. They were 0-2 against Big 12 teams in 2022.
9. NORTH TEXAS MEAN GREEN
A new regime is in charge at North Texas following the firing of Seth Littrell despite reaching a conference championship game and qualifying for another bowl bid. The Mean Green hired former Washington State offensive coordinator and Incarnate Word head coach Eric Morris to carry the program into the AAC.
10. TEXAS STATE BOBCATS
A new, exciting time is on the horizon in San Marcos with G.J. Kinne bringing a high-energy attack to Texas State after a successful run at UIW in 2022. The Bobcats are tearing up the recruiting trail and adding quality players in the transfer portal, including former four-star quarterback Malik Hornsby.
11. RICE OWLS
Rice reached a bowl game in 2022 thanks to a high APR because the Owls only managed five wins. The recruiting is improved, and former five-star recruit JT Daniels is enrolling to help solidify the quarterback position. Rice is moving to the AAC alongside UTSA and North Texas.
12. UTEP MINERS
Dana Dimel remains committed to the JUCO lifestyle he learned coaching at Kansas State with Bill Snyder despite the advent of the transfer portal. Conference USA looks more winnable for the Miners with realignment shaking out to start the 2023 season. We won’t know a ton about the roster until at least spring practice.
13. SAM HOUSTON BEARKATS
The new kids on the block must prove themselves before receiving more respect than existing FBS members. Head coach K.C. Keeler has won more playoff games at the FCS level than any other coach in history, but he’s also in new territory at the FBS level. The good news for the Bearkats is that they retained a bunch of eligibility through redshirts last season and added a talented group of recruits to the roster.
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