Post-Spring Game-by-Game Predictions For 2023 BYU Football Season

May 11, 2023, 8:00 AM

PROVO, UtahΒ – The number one question every BYU football fan has heading into the 2023 season is, “How are the Cougs going to do in the Big 12?”

Everyone wants answers as BYU gears up for its inaugural season as a Big 12 member.

It’s still early, but I’ll take my first crack at predicting each game for BYU in the 2023 season.

2023 BYU football game-by-game predictions

Expectations are low for BYU by various outlets. But with the additions the Cougars put together from the Transfer Portal –they aren’t done–, there’s enough reason to believe they could pull off some upsets this season.

I’ll likely revisit these predictions during fall camp, but here you go, my game-by-game picks for BYU in 2023.

Sept. 2: Sam Houston Bearkats

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium

Remember when week one for BYU in 2023 was supposed to be the Tennessee Volunteers? Instead, after the Vols backed out, BYU lined up a money game with a team in Sam Houston moving up to the FBS ranks.

Sam Houston was a successful program in the FCS ranks, winning a National Championship in 2020, but they are working their way from the bottom up in the FBS. Last year, they were 5-4 in the WAC.

BYU fans will see the Big 12 logo on the LaVell Edwards Stadium field and uniforms for the first time, creating a ton of energy in the stadium. It’s a tricky game because if you don’t blow out this squad, folks will leave LES feeling like it was a loss. But I don’t think that will be the case.

BYU’s play on the field will keep fans energized with a blowout win to kick off the 2023 season.

BYU 42, Sam Houston 14

Sept. 9: Southern Utah Thunderbirds

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium

If BYU’s 2017 team didn’t lose to an FCS team, the 2023 edition definitely won’t.

BYU 52, SUU 6

Sept. 16: at Arkansas RazorbacksΒ 

Location: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium

Kalani Sitake’s BYU teams have performed well in revenge opportunities. Last year against Baylor, 2018 at Wisconsin, could Arkansas be another revenge moment?

I bet this will surprise people, but I believe BYU pulls the upset in SEC Country.

Per ESPN’s Bill Connelly’s metrics, Arkansas is one of the least experienced teams in college football this season. QB KJ Jefferson is back, but BYU’s defense under Jay Hill isn’t going to be the disaster they were last year when they gave up 644 yards to the Hawgs.

BYU pulls off a shocker.

BYU 24, Arkansas 23

Sept. 23: at Kansas Jayhawks

Location: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium

BYU’s first Big 12 game is a fun matchup on the road at Kansas. It will be the first time these two programs have met in the regular season. Kansas boasts one of the best secondaries in the Big 12. But their defensive line is a big question mark heading into the season.

BYU’s retooled offensive line, with Kingsley Suamataia and Caleb Etienne anchoring the tackle spots, should lead the way in the trenches.

This will be a 50/50 ballgame as Kansas has offensive firepower at QB if Jalon Daniels is fully healthy from the shoulder injury he suffered last season.

But I’ll call for BYU to pull off the win in Lawrence in their first Big 12 contest.

BYU 40, Kansas 35

Sept. 29: Cincinnati Bearcats

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium

If my predictions hold up, BYU football comes into its Big 12 home opener against Cincinnati with a 4-0 record and probably a Top 25 ranking next to its name.

Out of the four newcomers in the Big 12, Cincinnati is the one I project to finish the lowest. The Bearcats are going through many changes with Scott Satterfield as head coach. Cincy’s defense should be nasty as they’ve been the last few years. Utah State edge rusher Daniel Grzesiak will cause headaches along with arguably the best interior lineman in the nation Dontay Corleone.

Cincinnati has real question marks on offense, and I don’t believe they can keep up with BYU.

BYU 30, Cincinnati 17

Oct. 14: at TCU Horned Frogs

Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium

While most people project TCU to have a big step back from their fantastic run to the National Championship game last season, I still believe TCU will be in the upper tier of the Big 12. If my projections held up, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see both teams undefeated going into this game. Maybe a College Gameday appearance in DFW? That’s getting a bit carried away.

I’ll go with the Horned Frogs over BYU.

TCU 28, BYU 21

Oct. 21: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium

Texas Tech is the trendy “sleeper” in the Big 12 going into the 2023 season. However, they still have to decide who will be their starting quarterback. It’s a good problem for coach Joey McGuire as he believes he has two future NFL signal-callers in Tyler Shough and Behren Morton.

When BYU hosts Texas Tech, it will be the first meeting between the two programs since 1940.

I project Tech’s speed to be an issue for BYU in this game. So I’ll go with the Red Raiders.

Texas Tech 34, BYU 24

Oct. 28: at Texas Longhorns

Location: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

Can you imagine if BYU took down Texas again in Austin? BYU is 2-1 all-time in Austin and the last visit in 2014 was the type of game that likely had Longhorn fans never wanting to see the Cougars come to the Forty Acres again. So I’m sure there will be a lot of stories about Taysom Hill going into this late October game week.

If BYU pulled it off, it would be quite the upset. Texas is really good this year. Yes, they always get hyped up because of that logo on the helmet. But they are deep in the trenches and have star power at quarterback with Quinn Ewers, then Maalik Murphy backing him up, and that Arch Manning kid appears to be third string.

This will be the best Texas team BYU has faced compared to the previous meetings in this series, which has some juicy history.

Texas 42, BYU 20

Nov. 4: at West Virginia Mountaineers

Location: Milan Puskar Stadium

The calendar turns to November with a difficult trip. Instead of seeing a game against UMass, New Mexico State, Wagner, or a Group of Five team, as they’ve grown accustomed to in the past with Independence, BYU gets a cross-country trip to Morgantown to face West Virginia. Welcome to life in the Power Five.

West Virginia could be a dumpster fire by this point. Or they could be like many teams in the Big 12, vying for a postseason bid and a solid finish to the season.

This WVU game caps off a challenging stretch of games for BYU. Where will they be physically at this point? If these projections I’m putting together hold up, can they respond to the adversity of a three-game skid? Last year, they failed midway through the season with adversity.

This will be a close, physical game, but I’ll give a slight edge to West Virginia. The Mountaineers star running back CJ Donaldson is one of the best backs in the Big 12 this season.

West Virginia 29, BYU 28

Nov. 11: Iowa State Cyclones

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium

BYU breaks the losing streak and clinches bowl eligibility in front of the home crowd against Iowa State. The Cyclones are a young football team heading into 2023. By the time they travel to Provo, they will have had some battles under their belt. But BYU stays engaged in the season and digs in to win a low-scoring game against Iowa State.

BYU 17, Iowa State 11

Nov. 18: Oklahoma Sooners

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium

BYU/Oklahoma has the potential to be the most expensive ticket ever for a BYU football home game. Oklahoma fans will likely want to make this the road trip, as it will probably be the only time Boomer Sooner ever comes to Provo.

It’s the first time these two programs are squaring off away from a neutral field.

Oklahoma could have playoff implications, or at least Big 12 championship aspirations heading into Provo. It might be a bit too early to call for that big of a turnaround for Brent Venables in year two after a 6-7 campaign last year, but their schedule is favorable. Plus, they have the fifth-best transfer portal class.

BYU will be competitive with Oklahoma, but the Sooners pull away in the second half. A player to watch for OU this year is Indiana transfer, Dasan McCullough. He will be anchoring the ‘Cheetah’ spot for the Sooners, and he’s a good one.

Oklahoma 33, BYU 24

Nov. 25: at Oklahoma State Cowboys

Location: Boone Pickens Stadium

BYU and Oklahoma State square off for the first time in the regular season in the finale. These two programs last met in the 1976 Tangerine Bowl; before that the 1974 Fiesta Bowl, BYU’s first bowl appeared.

This matchup added some extra sizzle, with Caleb Etienne transferring from the Pokes to BYU. He projects to be a starting right tackle for BYU.

Oklahoma State has experienced some turnover to key personnel with the transfer portal, which has led a lot of people to be down on the Pokes this year. They have a light schedule with all three Big 12 newcomers on the slate. Mike Gundy is known for consistently pulling off big seasons when people don’t expect it.

I think both Oklahoma State and BYU are bowl teams this year, and each will have the motivation to end the season on a high note. So I’m going with BYU to pull off the road win in Stillwater.

BYU 45, Oklahoma State 42

Projected record for BYU football in 2023

Getting to a bowl game has to be the minimum goal for BYU in 2023. These game-by-game predictions would put BYU at 7-5 to end the regular season and send them to the postseason in their first year as a Big 12 member.

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Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Post-Spring Game-by-Game Predictions For 2023 BYU Football Season