COUGAR TRACKS

How BYU Football Has Fared When Ranked In Preseason AP Top 25

Aug 15, 2022, 10:16 AM | Updated: 1:27 pm
BYU Football, AP Top 25, Aaron Roderick...
The 2022 BYU football team is the 12th Cougar team to be ranked in the preseason AP Top 25. Others like 1997 have struggled to handle expectations. (Chuck Wing, Deseret News)
(Chuck Wing, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU football is once again a preseason AP Top 25 team.

For the first time since 2009, BYU cracked into the rankings entering a college football season. They check in at No. 25 on the 2022 preseason poll. A preseason ranking hasn’t been next to BYU’s name in week one of any season in the Independence and Kalani Sitake eras.

It’s a big deal.

Remember that when the College Football Playoff committee releases their rankings in November, they don’t factor in the AP or Coaches Polls. But, the narratives and perceptions around teams ranked in the Top 25 help the cause for something more significant in a given year.

On the flip side, you don’t want to be a team deemed a bust and couldn’t live up to the preseason hype.

The 2022 BYU football team is the 12th squad in BYU’s history to earn a preseason AP Top 25 ranking.

Only two of the last 11 BYU teams to receive a preseason ranking finished the season with a higher ranking than where they started.

Here’s a look back at the previous 11 BYU teams that entered a season ranked. And ultimately, how they finished.

2009: Preseason ranking – No. 20

Finished 11-2 overall and No. 12 in the final AP Top 25

Led by Max Hall, Harvey Unga, and Dennis Pitta, BYU knocked off No. 3 Oklahoma in the first game at Cowboys Stadium (Jerry’s World).

They also had wins over ranked Utah and Oregon State squads.

2008: Preseason ranking – No. 16

Finished 10-3 overall and No. 25 in the final AP Top 25

The “Quest for Perfection” season. After a pair of top 25 finishes in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, BYU was the preseason darling to bust the BCS and go undefeated.

The hype and expectations got to them. They still finished with ten wins, but it was a far cry from where they had hoped to be. Of course, it also didn’t help that rival Utah was the one who finished undefeated and went to the Sugar Bowl.

1997: Preseason ranking – No. 19

Finished 6-5 overall and unranked in the final AP Top 25

After the glow of the No. 5 finish in the 1996 season. The voters gave an inexperienced BYU team the benefit of the doubt and still ranked them No. 19.

They quickly learned they weren’t ready for that ranking as No. 4 Washington crushed them 42-20 in Provo.

1993: Preseason ranking – No. 19

Finished 6-6 overall and unranked in the final AP Top 25

BYU started the season 4-0, all of their victories coming against WAC opponents. Then the wheels came off during a trip to the Rose Bowl to face UCLA.

The Bruins whacked BYU 68-14 in Pasadena. Unfortunately for this squad, the eye-popping score totals for the opponents continued. The 1993 team allowed 37 points per game.

1992: Preseason ranking – No. 25

Finished 8-5 overall and unranked in the final AP Top 25

BYU started the season 1-3 and was entirely out of the national conversation for the remainder of the year.

1991: Preseason ranking – No. 19

Finished 8-3-2 overall and No. 23 in the final AP Top 25

Ty Detmer’s senior year and the season he tried to win a second Heisman Trophy. The schedule was a gauntlet as BYU opened with nationally-ranked Florida State, UCLA, and Penn State, all away from Provo.

They started 0-3 but then worked their way back into the polls by not losing another game.

1990: Preseason ranking – No. 16

Finished 10-3 overall and No. 22 in the final AP Top 25

The preseason buildup for BYU versus No. 1 Miami was out of this world. BYU got the upper hand pulling off the greatest win in program history.

BYU climbed to No. 4 in the AP Top 25 twice. Entering the Hawaii game, BYU had an outside chance at contending for the National Championship. But losses to Hawaii and Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl sent BYU tumbling down the final rankings.

1989: Preseason ranking – No. 19

Finished 10-3 overall and No. 22 in the final AP Top 25

Ty Detmer’s sophomore year. The nation was already aware of how prolific Detmer was becoming in LaVell Edwards’ passing attack.

BYU was ranked in all but three games in the ’89 season.

1986: Preseason ranking – No. 18

Finished 8-5 overall and unranked in the final AP Top 25

Here’s a strange thought, the 1986 season ended with BYU not winning the WAC Championship. Can you imagine if there were social media back then? The uproar would have been unreal.

1985: Preseason ranking – No. 10

Finished 11-3 overall and ranked No. 16 in the final AP Top 25

The year after the National Championship, BYU football was ranked throughout the 1985 season. A shocking loss at UTEP prevented BYU from potentially making another run at the title.

1981: Preseason ranking – No. 16

Finished 11-2 overall and ranked No. 13 in the final AP Top 25

It was quite the accomplishment for BYU to earn a preseason ranking in 1981. The ranking came less than ten years after LaVell Edwards inherited a BYU program mired in mediocrity. He was turning them into a juggernaut.

Jim McMahon led BYU to an 11-2 season and a second-consecutive year capped off with a Holiday Bowl victory.

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 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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