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BYU Could Mirror 4-9 Season In Worst Case Scenario

Tanner Mangum #12 of the Brigham Young Cougars throws the ball during the second half of a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium on October 14, 2017 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – BYU’s 2019 football schedule is front-loaded with tough teams. They play as underdogs against four Power 5 opponents in Utah, at Tennessee, Washington and USC.

Those first four games could make or break the Cougars’ season, in either building or destroying the team’s confidence.

KSL’s UnRivaled has looked at the Cougars 2019 season from every angle but now hosts Scott Mitchell and Alex Kirry discussed what a half-glass empty or worst-case scenario for BYU would be.

A truly positive note for the Cougars is the first four games are the only ones that they are considered underdogs based on ESPN’s Football Power Index.

The Opening Gauntlet

When BYU went independent the goal was to beef up the schedule and play all over the nation, including a slew of Power Five programs. Now, they have their wish. Athletic Director Tom Holmoe put together a nice schedule, according to the duo.

The 2019 opening month is clearly difficult but fans seem to like the challenge.

As for Mitchell and Kirry’s analysis – whether or not BYU will win any of these games is up in the air.

“Utah, Tennessee, USC, Washington. While your brain tells you, ‘hey, let’s see what game we will win in there.’ It is really easy for you to convince yourself if you just think about it for a moment that you could go 0-4,” Kirry said. “That would be so demoralizing. Heaven forbid your quarterback gets hurt, and you go 0-4 because you might as well look at the rest of the schedule and go, ‘I don’t even care what happens.'”

Of those four teams, two are in the discussion to win their conference – the Utes and Huskies. The Trojans have enormous talent and are looking to rebound, and even the Vols are projected to win every game that isn’t against a preseason top 25 team.

For BYU to be successful in that stretch, Mitchell said it would take an effort rarely seen in college football.

“What’s so hard in those first four games is that BYU will have to give a Herculean effort in every single one of those games,” Mitchell said. “The tipping point is so minor and it could go either way easily in those games. What is so hard about this schedule is that Kalani Sitake was great in his first season but then an absolute disaster happened. That is what is in people’s mind and what scares them. [A bad start] could happen because it already has happened.”

Being scared of possibly repeating the disastrous 4-9 season in 2017 could be a reality if 0-4 comes to fruition.

What About Last Year?

The Cougars did have a great start to the 2018 season when they defeated Arizona, then Wisconsin and McNeese State to earn a top 20 ranking. So, there is confidence and history to say that the Cougars could pull off an upset over at least one of these first four teams.

The big difference is that the set of games ahead of the Cougars is much more difficult than last year, according to Mitchell and Kirry.

“After the way BYU started last year, fans can always say, ‘Hey man they went 3-1 last year and beat Arizona, they beat No. 6 Wisconsin to start the first month of the year. Why is it that much of a stretch for you to think they could beat Utah or Washington,'” Kirry said.

Fans should carry that confidence heading into September but there should be some cautious optimism about these games, advised KSL’s UnRivaled.

Back Half Challenges

While the first four games are difficult, the next set of games could be challenging as well.

BYU is not favored by a large amount against Boise State, at South Florida, at Toledo, and at San Diego State.

“At Toledo is no joke, this is a MAC team that will throw the ball like crazy, then go to South Florida in Tampa and Charlie Strong is like, ‘we don’t care who BYU is we have way better athletes and you are at our place,'” Kirry said. “Then you come home to Boise State who is never going to be easy and some people chalk that game up to a loss as it is a 50-50 game.”

Not mentioned is Utah State who has a great defense led by potential All-American linebacker David Woodward and quarterback Jordan Love who is being hyped as a Heisman Trophy candidate by the school.

San Diego State is a former rival from the Mountain West days and has always had a great defense under Rocky Long. They have a running back in Juwan Washington who could be one of the toughest backs this Cougar defense will face.


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Each of those games outside of Liberty and UMass could be losses on the BYU schedule if things go sideways. However, just two years ago the Cougars lost a few of those so-called “gimmes.”

“The reason the 2017 season was as bad as it was is that they lost to teams like UMass and replace Liberty with East Carolina,” Kirry said. “Those are two of the worst losses in my time as someone who has covered BYU is UMass at home in 2017 and East Carolina on the road in 2017. Those are to be guaranteed games on the schedule.”

This is clearly not necessarily how the BYU season will go as the team has improved depth at multiple positions and Zach Wilson is a star in the making at quarterback.


Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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