BYU COUGARS

Eight Of BYU’s 2020 Opponents Ahead Of Cougars In Early Rankings

Feb 18, 2020, 11:15 PM | Updated: Feb 19, 2020, 10:36 am
Kalani Sitake - BYU Football...
BYU Football head coach Kalani Sitake (Photo Courtesy of BYU Photo's Jaren Wilkey)
(Photo Courtesy of BYU Photo's Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – It’s never too early to get a look at some college football rankings. The ESPN Football Power Index put out their early preseason rankings and they have BYU slotted in at No. 62. That’s almost smack dab in the middle of the rankings among 130 college football teams in the FBS ranks.

Every year it feels as though we discuss how difficult BYU’s schedules are and the challenges that come with playing as an Independent. The 2020 schedule, which marks BYU’s 10th year as an Independent, might be the toughest based on how many teams are ranked in front of BYU in ESPN’s FPI rankings.

Eight teams from BYU’s 2020 schedule are in front of the Cougars on the ESPN FPI rankings. These are the eight teams, starting with the highest-ranked team that BYU will face.

Teams ranked ahead of BYU on ESPN’s Preseason FPI rankings

* = Road Game

Minnesota – No. 20*

Utah – No. 24*

Stanford – No. 28*

Arizona State – No. 41*

Houston – No. 45

Boise State – No. 51*

Missouri – No. 53

Michigan State – No. 58

Everyone knew the 2020 schedule was going to be tough, but when you put those rankings next to the team names compared to where BYU ranks, it looks even more daunting for the Cougars. Especially with five of those games coming away from LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.

ESPN hasn’t released its official FPI win-loss record projections yet, but at most with where these rankings stack up, the early forecast for BYU has to be around six wins. Now, BYU has always shown an ability to spring an upset or two in a given season under head coach Kalani Sitake. But the Cougars have also shown the ability to lose games that they shouldn’t over the course of a season. Looking at losses to Toledo, USF, and Hawaii last season.

It’s not all doom and gloom, there are some winnable games on the schedule with the other four teams on BYU’s schedule ranked lower than the Cougars.

Teams ranked below BYU on the FPI rankings

San Diego State – No. 88

Utah State – No. 95

Northern Illinois – No. 102

North Alabama – NR (FCS)

You might think these are easy wins for BYU but the only problem is that those three FBS teams ranked below BYU have all defeated the Cougars within the past two seasons. BYU will show what they are made of as a team with how challenging this year’s schedule is from start to finish.

Gone are the days of having a handful of weeks with the likes of UMass, New Mexico State, and Liberty to cruise into bowl eligibility. The 2020 schedule will test BYU every week if they want to improve from what tight end Matt Bushman called “mediocre 7-6 seasons” the past two seasons.

The work will ramp up for BYU beginning on March 2nd when spring football begins.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Eight Of BYU’s 2020 Opponents Ahead Of Cougars In Early Rankings