If you were to say that Utah versus Colorado could become the biggest game in Big 12 football in 2024 and beyond, you would have a reasonable claim to make.
If you made this same statement one week ago, you might have been laughed out of the building, but now that view doesn’t seem like a hot take.
Colorado looked like the real deal in its win over TCU. Utah smashed Florida without Cam Rising at quarterback. Those two teams look good. Meanwhile, the Big 12 — which Utah and Colorado will move to in 2024 — does not look good. Oklahoma looked good, and Texas could become good, but they are both leaving the Big 12 for the SEC next year. Utah and Colorado really could become the two best teams in the Big 12. We’re not guaranteeing anything. We’re not even saying it’s likely.
We are saying there’s a very realistic chance of it happening.
Let’s offer some analysis here to back up our point:
The Buffaloes won outright at TCU as a 20-point underdog. A lot of people, including Trojans Wire editor Matt Zemek, thought Colorado would struggle. That’s just reality.
Many people doubted that this huge transfer overhaul could work in the short term. In the long run, it had a lot of potential to succeed, but the first few games for CU figured to be difficult if only because these players haven’t played together very much. Usually, it takes more time to build cohesion.
Colorado didn’t need that much time. The Buffaloes have instantly increased their reputation and their likely win total for 2023, probably enough to make a bowl game. That would be an amazing accomplishment if CU can pull it off. Then wait for next year, when those transfers have another year under their belt. It could be very special very quickly, especially with Deion Sanders’ ability to attract top talent. Colorado is not going to lack high-end talent.
Kyle Whittingham has built depth and toughness at Utah. Without Cam Rising, the Utes were still a lot better than the Florida Gators last Thursday. This program and this coach are in a groove. If Whittingham stays on the job a few more years, Utah should continue to be a very strong program.
In the Big 12, Utah and Colorado will not have to face Oregon, Washington, USC, or Oregon State, four of the teams expected to finish in the top five of the Pac-12 this season. That’s a lot of good teams Utah and Colorado won’t have to play.
If Colorado has a roster gap, Deion Sanders is going to fill it in the transfer portal. Travis Hunter and Shedeur Sanders gave CU a massive and instant upgrade. More such upgrades will occur in future seasons. It’s a game-changer for the Buffs.
Oklahoma looked really good in Week 1 of this season. The Sooners were nearly flawless this past Saturday against Arkansas State.
However, they won’t be in the Big 12 next year. Colorado and Utah avoid the Sooners as well. That’s huge.
For more Oklahoma news and coverage, visit Sooners Wire.
Texas might not be all the way back, but the Longhorns have a ton of resources and natural recruiting advantages. Colorado and Utah won’t directly compete against Texas in 2024, since the Longhorns will be in the SEC.
For Texas news and coverage, visit Longhorns Wire.
BYU did not look good on offense against Sam Houston in Week 1. The defense was great, but the offense was terrible. Utah is definitely better than BYU. Colorado appears to be better than BYU.
Everyone knew TCU would be a lot worse than its amazing national runner-up team from 2022.
We didn’t know it would be this much worse.
TCU was supposed to have a good secondary. Other position groups weren’t going to be good, but the secondary was supposed to be a strong point. It was atrocious against Colorado.
Chandler Morris is also more of a downgrade from Max Duggan than some suspected. His turnovers in the red zone were killers in a high-scoring game where points needed to be scored on every possession.
USC might have dodged a bullet with Dave Aranda. Baylor got shredded at home by Texas State as a four-touchdown favorite. Yikes. This team is not ready to return to the elite ranks.
Texas Tech lost at Wyoming as a two-touchdown favorite. Gulp.
Houston, a new Big 12 team, looked very shaky — particularly on offense — against UTSA on Saturday. Both Cougars, Houston and BYU, played terrible offensive games. Utah and Colorado certainly look better.
NO IMPRESSIVE BIG 12 WINS
Oklahoma looked really good, but it beat Arkansas State. There wasn’t a single high-end win for the Big 12 in Week 1. Washington beat Boise State by a lot. Colorado upsetting TCU on the road was impressive. Utah easily handled Florida. The Pac-12 made some big statements while the Big 12 made none.
ONE MORE NOTE
In fairness to the Big 12, we need to see Kansas State and a few other teams against good opponents. Maybe KSU is really good. The Wildcats played a cupcake (Southeast Missouri) in Week 1, so we don’t really know much about them right now. Nevertheless, we can agree the Pac-12 was dramatically better than the Big 12 in Week 1.
Utah and Colorado certainly aren’t quaking in their boots.