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Phil Steele: If Season Is Played, 2020 Will Be BYU’s Best Team Under Kalani Sitake

Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake walks the sideline in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. BYU won 30-27 in overtime. (Jeffrey D Allred, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – One of the major events on the college football off-season is the release of the Phil Steele College Football Preview. As an avid reader since 2003, Steele’s magazine has become my go-to and it goes in my backpack everywhere I go.

One thing that makes Steele great is that he is willing to go against groupthink and make his own predictions on a team. Steele’s bold predictions have made his magazine the most accurate preseason publication the last 22 years.

Prior to the Conference-Only schedule announcements by the Big Ten and Pac-12, outlets had forecasted anywhere from five to seven wins for this year’s BYU team. Steele felt that this 2020 edition of BYU was ready to take a step forward with a 12-game schedule.

But now the schedule is down to seven games for BYU and if the Cougars are able to field a team this year, Steele is expecting improvement from the Cougars.

Phil Steele on BYU in 2020: “This is a very talented team”

“I’ve talked to Coach Sitake each year of his five years he’s been there. I’ve gotta be honest with you going over the roster with him. And I go three, four deep at every position. This is a very talented BYU team. This is clearly the best team he’s put on the field,” Steele said to KSL Sports.

“So you get to the third-stringers or the fourth-stringers, you’re like, wow, they’ve got some talent build up here. I like the way he’s built this team. I like the experience level coming back this year, I like the depth they have at almost every single position and I’m gonna say it, this is the best team he’s put on the football field this year.”

Through four years as head coach Kalani Sitake has posted a 27-25 record. There have been growing pains for Sitake from gaining experience for both he and his players. The youth movement appears set to have a payoff in year five if we get a football season.

BYU boasts 15 returning starters from last year’s team that posted a mediocre 7-6 season. Steele named eight BYU players on his first-team All-Independent squad which was second only behind Notre Dame.

“I talked to coach Sitake when I was going over the roster, and after my conversation with him, I’m like, wow, I love the talent on this year’s team and Sitake’s like, ‘well, Phil, you realize we’re not playing the schedule that we used to 20 years ago.’ And he’s right. The schedule was a lot tougher. There were so many power five teams on there it was ridiculous. Yet now the new schedule could be back towards that [schedules of the past]. And we might see BYU win total and well, let’s just say loss total will be a lot less than what we’ve seen in recent years.”

Phil Steele’s College Football Preview

Phil Steele’s 2020 College Football Preview is available on PhilSteele.com right now and hits newsstands on July 24th at Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

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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