COUGAR TRACKS

BYU Football’s History Against FCS Opponents

Sep 6, 2023, 11:53 PM

PROVO, Utah – How has BYU football performed against FCS teams?

BYU is a perfect 17-0 against teams from the Football Championship Subdivision.

They will look to improve that mark to 18-0 this Saturday when they host Southern Utah from the United Athletic Conference (1 p.m., ESPN+, KSL NewsRadio).

Don’t expect BYU football games against FCS teams to be slowing down anytime soon. BYU has games scheduled against FCS foes in 2024 (Southern Illinois), 2025 (Southern Utah), and 2026 (Utah Tech).

BYU football is 17-0 against FCS opponents

Here’s a game-by-game look at BYU’s previous 17 games versus FCS foes.

1979 – BYU 48, Weber State 3

One year after the NCAA voted on splitting Division I football into I-A and I-AA, BYU and Weber State squared off in a previously scheduled game.

BYU QB legend Marc Wilson passed for 361 yards. Then backup Royce Bybee kept slinging the rock in the fourth quarter for a pair of touchdown passes.

1998 – BYU 43, Murray State 9

There used to be a time in college football when scheduling an FCS (I-AA) was controversial. BYU went almost 20 years without playing a team from the lower level of Division I. But that was during an era with only 11 regular season games.

BYU often played 12 games a season due to a frequent trip to Hawaii with the Rainbow Warriors. So, in 1998, BYU welcomed Murray State to conclude a non-conference schedule that included Alabama, Arizona State, and Washington.

Murray State had former Memphis and Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente as its starting quarterback.

2005 – BYU 45, Eastern Illinois 10

Bronco Mendenhall’s first win as BYU’s head coach took place against the school that produced Tony Romo, Eastern Illinois. You could also say it was the first win in “Cougar Town.”

From 2005 to 2008, Provo City was known as Cougar Town on gamedays.

2007 – BYU 42, Eastern Washington 7

In 2006, the NCAA renamed I-AA to FCS (Football Championship Subdivision). Snowy skies and Eastern Washington’s defense were no match for BYU’s offense led by QB Max Hall and RB Harvey Unga in 2007.

2008 – BYU 41, Northern Iowa 17

This game was the first time BYU opened a season against an FCS opponent. Northern Iowa had current Kansas State coach Chris Klieman on their staff. An often-forgotten tidbit from this game was that BYU star receiver Austin Collie was the backup quarterback.

Luckily for BYU, Max Hall was able to play the entire game.

2011 – BYU 56, Idaho State 3

The first year of Independence featured a blowout win against Idaho State. It was a rout from the opening kickoff, with seven different BYU players scoring touchdowns.

2012 – BYU 45, Weber State 13

The 2012 meeting against Weber State was a rare September date against an FCS opponent during BYU’s Independence era. Former BYU QB Taysom Hill recorded his first multi-touchdown performance of his BYU career in this one.

2013 – BYU 59, Idaho State 13

The game that burned redshirt years.

BYU played four quarterbacks in this game, two of whom were on pace to redshirt until they got unexpected snaps. Christian Stewart and Billy Green both took snaps, ending their redshirt seasons.

Remember, this wasn’t the era of playing in four games and still maintaining your redshirt. You play one game, and the redshirt is gone. Fans were puzzled by the decision to lift the redshirt on Green. But in retrospect, Stewart was the one to save probably. He was excellent in the 2014 season for BYU, and if he had a redshirt in 2013, he could have been the backup to Taysom Hill in 2015.

2014 – BYU 64, Savannah State 0

This game was another example of scheduling hardships as an FBS Independent in November. BYU had already clinched a postseason bid in the Miami Beach Bowl. Savannah State was the worst football team in America between the FBS and FCS ranks. There was nothing at stake in the game.

BYU easily could have scored 100 points if they wanted to. Fans in the stadium felt so bad for Savannah State. They were cheering the Tigers when they crossed the 50-yard line in the fourth quarter.

2015 – BYU 70, Wagner 6

Unlike the Savannah State game, this blowout had pleasant weather.

2016 – BYU 37, Southern Utah 7

The first game against an FCS team in the Kalani Sitake era.

There was a lot of talk about former BYU associate head coach Ed Lamb going up against his old team. Lamb coached at SUU and had success with the Thunderbirds. BYU rolled to a comfortable win.

2017 – BYU 20, Portland State 6

The Portland State game marked the beginning of the end for offensive coordinator Ty Detmer. BYU put up only 20 points in a week zero national showcase game against Portland State. The Vikings finished 0-11 that season and allowed 30 points or more in their final ten games.

BYU went on to a disastrous 4-9 campaign during that season.

2018 – #25 BYU 30, McNeese State 3

Riding high after a massive upset over No. 6 Wisconsin, BYU stuck with the conservative playcalling and jet sweeps to produce a 27-point win over McNeese State.

2019 – BYU 42, Idaho State 10

This game marked the return of an injured Zach Wilson, who worked his way back from a hand injury he suffered against Toledo two months prior. BYU started slow, only leading 7-0 through one-quarter thanks to an Austin Lee pick-six.

In the second quarter, BYU’s offense began pulling away.

The win gave BYU their sixth victory of the season and clinched bowl eligibility. In the postgame locker room, BYU AD Tom Holmoe donned a fan-created t-shirt that said, “#EXTENDKALANI,” announcing to the team that head coach Kalani Sitake was receiving a contract extension.

2020 – #8 BYU 66, North Alabama 14

The unusual COVID season. Undefeated BYU was desperately searching for games, so star QB Zach Wilson donned a headband versus North Alabama that said, “Any Team, Time, Place.”

2021 – #17 BYU 59, Idaho State 14

Three BYU players who scored touchdowns in this game are in the NFL. Tyler Allgeier, Jaren Hall, and Puka Nacua.

2022 – BYU 52, Utah Tech 26

Utah Tech gave BYU a legitimate scare for three quarters. The Trailblazers only trailed 28-20 at the half. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that BYU’s offense pulled away. The game served as another low point for a BYU defense struggling to stop anyone.

2023 – BYU vs. Southern Utah

BYU will look to keep its perfect record against FCS opponents intact as they host Southern Utah on Saturday for the second meeting all-time.

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 Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X (Twitter) and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Football’s History Against FCS Opponents