BYU Football Opponent Power Rankings: Part Three
The three toughest games on BYU Football schedule are no joking matter.
What if I told you that any of BYU's three toughest opponents would probably be the best win of Independence since leaving the Mountain West? Well there is a very good chance that it will end up playing out that way.
The reality is, BYU has beaten very few, if any elite teams since going Independent. Sure Wisconsin was ranked in the Top 10 when the Cougars took them down last season but they ended up not being all that great. Arizona looked promising in the preseason until Corbin Kaufusi gave every Pac 12 defense the playbook to stopping Khalil Tate.
We don't know how 2019 will shape out, but looking back at their recent schedules, the best teams that the Cougars actually beaten include 2018 Wisconsin (ended 8-5), 2015 Boise State (9-4), 2013 Texas (8-5), 2012 Utah State (11-2) and 2011 Tulsa (8-5).
While Tennessee is a mystery team as far as whether they will be really good or not, there is little doubt that the Utes and Huskies will be at worst 9-4 this season which would be the best win for BYU since leaving the MWC.
Anytime anyone plays in SEC country it is going to be really tough to leave with a win. That is what happens when you enter a stadium full of 100,000 fans who have been tailgating for eight hours and who celebrate bowl games more than Christmas. Anyone who thinks that this is going to be an easy win just because it is against a lower rated SEC team is kidding themselves. The Volunteers are returning 81 percent of their passing yards, 87 percent rushing yards, and 98.5 percent of their receiving yards from last season. The only player they lost was an offensive lineman. On defense, they return six players including their entire secondary. This team is experienced, and don't let their 5-7 record make you think they are average. This team is good, loaded and dangerous. Looking at this team and who they play, they very well could end up with an 8-5 record with wins over Chattanooga, UAB, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi State, and a bowl game.
I know and realize that most rankings have Utah as a tougher game than Washington, but with a new offense, key losses on defenses and given the rivalry effect, I don't believe that if Utah and Washington both played BYU ten times that Utah would end up with more wins than the Huskies. That isn't to say Utah isn't going to be really good. If you don't believe me read what I just wrote about Tennessee and yet I believe Utah is better than them. Another reason why the rankings is this way is that while Washington has a few weeks to break in their new system, Utah does not. For that reason, I do not believe that the Utes will be as tough as Washington will be because it is the first game.
Also, the Utes are returning possibly a top three defensive line in the country. Throw that in with a returning quarterback, running back, as well as most of the receiving core and this team is one that if they make it past BYU, could realistically go 12-0.
This has everything to do with timing. Washington will have played Eastern Washington, California and Hawaii all at home by the time they travel to Provo. The Cougars on the other hand will have played Utah, Tennessee on the road and USC. I hate to jinx it, but it is unlikely that the Cougars don't have injuries by the time they play the Huskies, whereas Washington possibly may be coming in with none of their starters having played in the fourth quarter because of blowouts. Washington is going to be really good and tough to beat when they roll into Provo with most of their defense that held BYU to 7 points last year coming back. Their offense will be new with at least nine new starters including projected starter and transfer Jacob Eason, but if the defense plays anything like they did last year, that offense may not have to put up 30 points (or even 20) to win.
What do you think about the rankings? Did I mess up big time? Let me know in the comments.