Big 12 football power rankings after spring portal closes: Did Buffaloes get better?

Coach Prime and his family have talked a big game out all offseason in Boulder, but where do the Buffs realistically stack up in the new-look Big 12? It might not be as high as Sanders and Colorado fans hope.
Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2)
Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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7. UCF. Last Year: 6-7. . . Head Coach: Gus Malzahn. . . 455.

Key losses: Jordan McDonald, John Rhys Plumlee Key additions: KJ Jefferson, Peny Boone, Nyjalik Kelly

The transition from the AAC to the Big 12 was not a seamless one for the UCF Knights, who had become one of the most dominant G5 programs in the country. Gus Malzahn’s team went a pedestrian 6-7 in the new conference, though they have upward momentum heading into Year 2. 

Not only is the Big 12 getting a bit easier with the departures of Texas and Oklahoma, but UCF is getting better, adding former Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson through the transfer portal this offseason. The Knights will miss Javon Baker, who accounted for 1,139 yards of UCF’s passing offense and will be playing for the New England Patriots next season, but he’s not an irreplaceable talent. 

Where the Knights really need to improve is the run defense. UCF was first in the Big 12 in passing yards allowed last year at 205.8, but last in rushing yards, giving up 186.9 yards a game. If Malzahn can prevent his defense from getting gashed by the conference’s many run-heavy attacks, then UCF will solidify its place in the ever-changing conference.