COUGAR TRACKS

BYU Looking To ‘Break Stigma’ Of Day Game Struggles At TCU

Oct 10, 2023, 3:10 PM

PROVO, Utah – If you watch or listen to BYU football games, you probably know you’ll have a long night ahead. That’s because BYU has typically been a team that plays in a late-night window.

The coveted fourth television window on a College Football Saturday, which kicks off around 8 p.m. (MT), has recently been a staple for BYU.

It’s a staple for BYU because of its geography. Being in the Mountain Time Zone and TV networks wanting to maximize their windows for fans to watch games, BYU was a late-night team.

Some of the best BYU wins recently have occurred at night. Look at last year’s win over Baylor or the 2021 losing streak-busting win over rival Utah.

The day games, well, those haven’t been as memorable. For every win against USC in 2019, there have been some humbling setbacks against Liberty, USF, and others.

BYU football: Record in day games compared to night since 2019

BYU’s day game issues seem to date back to the 2019 season.

Since that year, a season where Kalani Sitake was coaching for his job to earn a contract extension, BYU is 14-13 in games that kickoff before 6 p.m.

For games that kick at 6 p.m. or later? The record is 26-3. That’s an 89.6% win rate.

Those stats were compiled by Cougar Sports Saturday & Cougar Nation producer Nate Slack.

College football fans are picking up on BYU’s quirky trend

Even the popular message board Reddit has caught on to the stark difference in performance from BYU between the day and night games.

One BYU fan replied on the thread, “The atmosphere is noticeably more amped up at the night games — fire dancers, Cosmo jumping burning ropes, louder crowd, etc.”

That is true.

Three of BYU’s four wins this season kicked off at 6 p.m. (local kick time to site). The lone victory in the day was against FCS Southern Utah. BYU’s only loss this season was in the Big 12 opener at Kansas. That was a 2:30 p.m. (Central Time) kickoff.

This week’s game at TCU will see BYU facing off against the Horned Frogs at 2:30 p.m. (Central)/1:30 p.m. (Mountain). Is that tidbit alone something that should cause concern against a reeling TCU team?

BYU football will look to break its day game issues against TCU

When asked in the past about BYU’s struggles in the daytime, head coach Kalani Sitake didn’t put much stock into the theory.

Captain and tight end Isaac Rex was asked during a weekly interview with Cougar Sports Saturday on KSL NewsRadio if we’re overblowing these day and night game trends for BYU football. Rex has been with the BYU program since the 2019 season.

Like any player, Rex isn’t focusing on unusual outside trends. Rex, a proud father to his son Luka, admits he prefers day games to late-night kicks as he goes to bed early during the week. But he did acknowledge that the day game performances need to improve.

“The stats show that we play better at night, which is crazy,” said Rex to KSL Sports. “I’ve always felt that we’ve played well during day games too. … I could think of a couple of day games that we’ve played really well on, some we haven’t. It’s become kind of a stigma with BYU and that’s something we have to break this weekend. We’ve got to come in and fight TCU and play to the best of our abilities. So we can break that stigma and show people that it doesn’t matter what time we’re playing and we’re a good team.”

Don’t expect advanced analytics folks to suddenly forecast win/loss projections based on how a team performs in the day or night. But for BYU, it’s definitely something that they want to put to rest this Saturday in the heart of Big 12 Country.

“It’s kind of a funny concept,” Rex said. “But it is kind of turning into something so we’ve got to prove something this next week.”

BYU vs. TCU

Date: Saturday, October 14, 2023

Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium

Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. (MT)

TV: ESPN

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM) — Extended pregame coverage begins at 11 a.m. from Ft. Worth

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 and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Looking To ‘Break Stigma’ Of Day Game Struggles At TCU