SALT LAKE CITY – Over the past two seasons, the BYU football program has won 21 games and finished in the final Associated Press rankings at Nos. 19 and 11, in 2021 and 2020. The Cougars also achieved an AP high of No. 10 and 8 during those two years. This program is playing well and getting noticed.
Is this the year that the Cougars could take the leap to be a serious threat to make the College Football Playoff?
BYU has the brand name and wins over the past two years with 21. As the Cincinnati Bearcats keenly know, it can take a multi-year run to be in the conversation of the College Football Playoff.
Even last year, Cincinnati very likely could have been shut out had Oklahoma State defeated Baylor for the Big 12 title. Also, the Bearcats went undefeated and won 31 games over the prior three seasons – that included just a 10-game schedule in 2020 where they went 9-1 while going to the Peach Bowl.
The Cougars have a lot going for them this year with the team being one of the most experienced in all of college football, Jaren Hall is entering his second year as the starting quarterback, and the defense is loaded and could be the best ever under head Coach Kalani Sitake.
The few downsides on this team include Hall’s health and also who will take over for Tyler Allgeier at running back. All signs point to Cal transfer Christopher Brooks as the starting running back.
QB1 ready for camp.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) August 4, 2022
Schedule Helps BYU A Lot
The 2022 football schedule for BYU’s final independent season is jam-packed and loaded with brand-name teams and quality opponents. Having a tough slate of games will definitely help the Cougars stand out.
BYU’s opponents won 60.8% of their games (93-60) last year and that is projected to be the 13th toughest schedule in the country.
That is why Stadium’s Michael Felder is high on BYU’s College Football Playoff chances, but only if they can get to 11 wins this year.
“BYU, I’m rooting for. The reality is, that is if this team wins 11 games, they probably belong in the [College Football] Playoff based on this schedule,” Felder said. “…If their one loss is a close loss to Notre Dame or a close loss to Baylor. If Baylor wins the Big 12 championship or Notre Dame goes 11-1… or 12-0, the reality is that this team belongs in the mix more than a lot out of other teams from the Power 5.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) August 5, 2022
That is extremely high praise and if BYU does make the playoff they would be just the second team outside of the Power 5 to achieve that feat.
However, in saying that, Felder does take BYU and the under their 8.5 win totals.
“I want BYU to win 10 games, I want them to win 11 games, go 12-0, I don’t care,” Felder said. “They have to play one of the favorites in the Pac-12 in Oregon. One of the favorites [out of the Big 12] in Baylor, an independent Notre Dame. I think it will be really hard to top that 8.5, nine number, that is why I took the under.
“When I watch them play, they are a team that I think they can do it and I think they should do it, but there are games where they will be in dog fights.”
The tough schedule does back it up with nine teams that went to a bowl game in 2021. It includes Mountain West champion Utah State which went 11-3, Oklahoma State and Oregon both went to their respective conference title games, the Cowboys played and beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
South Florida is a road game and the Bulls return nearly as much talent as BYU, Arkansas is a team on the rise under head coach Sam Pittman and have one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the country in KJ Jefferson and are projected third in the SEC West behind Texas A&M and Alabama. Plus, there is Boise State and Stanford who return multi-year starters at quarterback.
If BYU can navigate that schedule with at most one loss, no one can say that they do not deserve to be at the very least in the conversation of making the College Football Playoff.
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