Harper: BYU’s Schedule Is Made For An Undefeated Season

Sep 4, 2020, 3:11 PM
BYU - College Football...
PROVO, UT - OCTOBER 14: General view of LaVell Edwards Stadium and the field logo before the game between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Brigham Young Cougars on October 14, 2016 in Provo Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – BYU kicks off its 2020 college football campaign in a game that was only put on the schedule a few weeks ago. They take on Navy on Labor Day evening.

The Cougars’ schedule has just three original opponents on the year with all of the Power 5 teams fading from the schedule and replaced with a mish-mash of who is playing college football this fall.

The line up is mightily easier compared to having six teams from the Power 5 and two Group of 5 teams that were projected to win their respective divisions. With no Power 5 teams on the schedule and six home games, the question shifts to how good of a record can BYU have this year?

There is clearly a much higher chance for the Cougars to go 8-0. Cougar Sports Saturday host, Mitch Harper, joined KSL Unrivaled and believes going through the season unblemished is a real possibility and should be the goal.

“I think honestly, with this schedule, they should go undefeated. I think BYU should run the table. That should be the expectation,” Harper said. “When you talk about trying to elevate the program and move it forward under Kalani Sitake. This schedule, these eight games… I think they should run the table.

“They’ve played so many young guys and now you got the upperclassmen. Finally, let’s see the payoff, especially against a schedule that they should be the favorite in pretty much every game. BYU is now the favorite against Navy on the road against a team that was a top 25 program last year and BYU still the favorite. Again, I think that’s where it speaks to BYU needs to deliver on this experience that they have. And I think they should run the table.”

The schedule is very favorable and going undefeated would not be out of the question. However, advanced stats do not agree that the Cougars have an easy path to 8-0. ESPN’s Football Power Index, predicts BYU to be favored in five of its eight games. They are considered underdogs at Navy with a 29.9 percent chance at winning, at Army which is basically a toss-up at 49.9 percent, and vs. Houston which gives BYU a 35.3 percent chance to win.

The overall record from the simulations is 5.2-2.8 with the odds of going undefeated at just 1.7 percent.

Another consideration is that over the past few seasons BYU has lost to a few bad teams that they should have beat such as Toledo and South Florida. One week the team pulls off an upset over an Arizona or Wisconsin but then fails to show up vs. Northern Illinois and loses at home which they did in 2018 by a score of 7-6.

What Are Bowl Options?

There is no official word on what bowl eligibility means this year but assuming there is a postseason, BYU will be going to a game. The relationship with ESPN and a good record – undefeated or not – will get them in a bowl game.

Creating bowl matchups will be quite interesting with just 76 FBS teams playing this fall but look for the Cougars to get in a game out West taking up a Pac-12 or Big Ten spot.
“I think they end up maybe in a Las Vegas bowl, maybe the Los Angeles Bowl, a regional game against maybe a Power Five team. I think that ESPN will take care of them and get them in a bowl game,” Harper said. “A good thing for BYU is that ESPN pretty much owns every bowl game.”

“So, I think if the Cougars were to run the table with this eight-game schedule, then ESPN would do everything in their power to maybe find them in a bowl game that was originally a Big Ten or a Pac-12 pairing. Then slide BYU into one of those bowl matchups so it can really work out nicely for BYU.”

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

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Harper: BYU’s Schedule Is Made For An Undefeated Season