Strength Of Schedule Metric Suggests Fewer Wins For BYU Football In 2023

Jun 8, 2023, 11:56 AM

BYU Football, Strength of Schedule, Big 12...

The numbers from Phil Steele's 2023 Preview suggest BYU football takes a step back in the 2023 season.

PROVO, Utah – BYU football moving into the Big 12 means the competition will be a step up. That’s not an earth-shattering bit of information. It’s to be expected when you play in a Power Five conference.

BYU will face 10 Power Five teams on its 2023 schedule. Nine of those ten are from the Big 12, with the other being Arkansas from the SEC.

Last season, BYU finished with an 8-5 record in its final year of Independence. The Cougars faced five Power Five teams last year, posting a record of 2-3 in those games.

So what should be the expectations this season?

BYU has 37th toughest schedule in Phil Steele’s rankings

Phil Steele, the creator of Phil Steele’s College Football Preview, puts together stats that try to forecast how a team will perform in a given year. One of those stats Steele uses is a ranking for strength of schedules.

Steele’s final 2022 strength of schedule rankings had BYU’s Independent slate ranked as the 62nd toughest schedule in the nation. By comparison, Steele has BYU’s 2023 schedule rated as the 37th toughest schedule. That’s a jump of 25 spots.

Phil Steele’s Preview for the 2023 season notes that teams with a 25-spot increase in their strength of schedule ranking from the previous year have an “86% chance of weaker or same record than 2022.” Steele has been tracking this since he began publishing his magazine in 1995.

If BYU won eight games in its inaugural Big 12 season, it would be quite an accomplishment. As the numbers would suggest, the safe prognostication is a dip in the win total from eight victories a season ago.

Last month, I compiled my game-by-game predictions for BYU’s 2023 season and projected the Cougars to win seven games. A lot of BYU’s success this season rests on the impact its transfer portal class makes. Most notably, former USC/Pitt QB Kedon Slovis

In the spring, Slovis looked comfortable in Aaron Roderick’s offense. He even noted that the offense has been easy for him to learn. BYU’s offensive personnel praised how quickly Slovis became the team leader.

But BYU football has never experienced the week-in, week-out grind of a Power Five schedule. So the strength of schedule ranking jump shouldn’t come as a surprise.

BYU football among four Big 12 newcomers

BYU isn’t the only one in the Big 12 that will experience a more rigorous schedule this fall. The other Big 12 newcomers also saw significant jumps in their strength of schedule ranking in Steele’s preseason magazine.

Houston has the most significant jump going from the 74th toughest schedule last year in the AAC to 33rd heading into this season. Cincinnati’s schedule increased by 35 spots, while UCF’s jumped from 86 a year ago to 58th this season.

BYU opens the season on September 2 against Sam Houston from Conference USA in Provo. Kickoff for that game is at 8:15 p.m. (MT) on FS1 and KSL NewsRadio.

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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Strength Of Schedule Metric Suggests Fewer Wins For BYU Football In 2023