Looking At Future BYU Football Non-Conference Schedules
Oct 31, 2023, 2:52 PM | Updated: Nov 3, 2023, 9:14 am
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
PROVO, Utah – The additions of the four corner schools put BYU football in a situation where they had to work the phones again for non-conference games.
No one is better equipped to handle that than Tom Holmoe, who pieced together schedules for a decade as an FBS Independent. Plus, a pop-up schedule amidst a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic in 2020.
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It helps to have individuals like Dave Brown from Gridiron on speed dial to help bring the scheduling pieces together for Holmoe and BYU. Brown was a former ESPN executive heavily involved in BYU’s scheduling efforts as an Independent.
“The strategy on non-conference games now [as a Big 12 program] will be predicated on the strength of our team, the depth of our team, where we stand in the conference and who we’re playing the following year, where we’re playing,” Holmoe said to KSL Sports in July before the four corner schools joined the Big 12.
“The thing that’s hard about that is trying to predict that years out. Kalani and I will probably continue to examine our non-conference scheduling. We have non-conference schedules for a number of years as we tried to get rid of some of the games that we couldn’t play because we only get three a year, we were forced to push some of those independent games that were scheduled into the future for non-conference games. So there will be a time when that runs out and we’ll have to start scheduling more non-conference games but that will be between me and Kalani.”
BYU football: Future Non-Conference Schedules in 16-team Big 12 era
Earlier this week, BYU officially announced a home-and-home series with SMU that opens the door for BYU’s rivalry game against Utah to move into the conference portion of its scheduling for the 2024 season. But there’s still work to do in future schedules in 2025 and beyond.
August 31 – Southern Illinois Salukis
September 14 – at Wyoming Cowboys
TBA – at SMU Mustangs
The addition of SMU puts BYU in a spot where they have two road games outside of conference play. That’s not ideal. But BYU is expected to have five home conference games in 2024. So that would bring the home schedule total to five games.
The road trip to Wyoming is one that BYU wants to fulfill. Tom Holmoe expressed his feelings on keeping that trip to Laramie for the 2024 season last year when the Pokes visited Provo for the first time since 2010.
Adding SMU gives BYU a Power Five opponent in the non-conference schedule. SMU has an open date on September 7. So it would seem
September 6 – Southern Utah Thunderbirds
September 20 – at East Carolina Pirates
TBA – Utah Utah* (Moving into Big 12)
Need: 1 Power Five
Earlier this year, East Carolina unveiled its future schedules, and BYU’s second all-time trip to Greenville, North Carolina, remains on the schedule. The trip to ECU was moved from an October date on the 2024 schedule to a landing spot in BYU’s non-conference in 2025.
An East Coast trip against a Group of Five? It’s one thing to travel to Laramie, Wyoming, but a two-time zone game to the East Coast seems like a big stretch.
BYU has always put a premium on maintaining relationships regarding scheduling. They rarely back out of games. Part of it is a willingness to fulfill the stated contract and not burn bridges.
ECU has made two trips to Provo since 2015. BYU has visited Greenville once during the disastrous 4-9 team in 2017.
September 5 – Utah Tech Trail Blazers
October 17 – USF Bulls
Arizona Wildcats* (Moving into Big 12)
at Utah Utes* (Moving into Big 12)
Need: 1 Power Five
There will need to be some games moved around in the 2026 schedule. It’s hard to see the home game against USF staying on that October 17 date. Then, of course, the Arizona and Utah games morph into the Big 12.
BYU will need a Power Five opponent on this schedule. In a perfect world, they get aggressive to find a P5 team to travel to Provo to ensure seven or eight home games at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
It’s a shame BYU pulled the plug on the Miami series. BYU was originally scheduled to play in Miami in 2026. That went by the wayside due to the Big 12 move. Now, that date with the Hurricanes has been filled.
September 4 – Weber State Wildcats
TBA – SMU Mustangs
at Arizona Wildcats (Moving into Big 12)
Utah Utes (Moving into Big 12)
Another opportunity to build up seven or eight home games with two non-conference games already lined up for Provo.
September 16 – Ole Miss Rebels
at Utah Utes (Moving into Big 12)
The home-and-home with Ole Miss has to be put at a premium. Any SEC games are going to be few and far between. We could get to a point where the SEC and Big 12 jump up to 10 league games and this game never materializes, but for now, it’s a series worth prioritizing.
September 8 – at Ole Miss Rebels
With a trip to The Grove tentatively on the schedule, an FCS and a Group of Five in Provo would be perfect pieces to round out the 2029 schedule.
August 31 – Weber State Wildcats
September 14 – Virginia Tech Hokies
at Utah Utes (Moving into Big 12)
The last scheduled year with one of the four corner schools. It shows the reach that those programs had in future non-conference schedules and now they are morphing into the same league with BYU.
August 30 – Stanford Cardinal
This game against Stanford would be a return visit from the 2022 contest in Palo Alto.
September 11 – Michigan State Spartans
TBA – Army West Point Black Knights
Need: 1, maybe 2
I’d be surprised if BYU ever gets the home game against Army.
The series has always been a dream for Holmoe and it came to fruition amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. But, due to a COVID outbreak on the team, BYU never got their chance to play on the banks of the Hudson River at Michie Stadium. BYU desperately wanted Army to reschedule them that season, but after what the Cougars did to Navy, the Black Knights had no interest.
Also, Army moving into the American Athletic Conference ramps up the difficulty of their schedules.
The Michigan State game also has ties to the COVID-19 season. Sparty was going to travel to Provo in 2020, but it got canceled, pushing it back to 2032. If it gets played, it will be 16 years after the first game in the home-and-home series.
September 10 – at Virginia Tech Hokies
September 17 – Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Waiting 13 years to get the Coastal Carolina rematch is underwhelming. Now that the four corner schools are joining the Big 12, I’d like to see that game moved up earlier in the backend of the 2020s schedules.
Still, that 2020 pop-up contest between BYU and the Chanticleers was a crowning moment of how wild that season was.
Also, find a way to get BYU at Virginia Tech on a primetime Thursday night. The two programs that defined weeknight football in the 90s. That would be fun to see.
Need: 3 (1 Power Five)
A blank slate to work with more than a decade from now.
September 8 – Missouri Tigers
September 15 – at Troy Trojans
Two games that were a byproduct of the 2020 COVID season. Twelve years from now, who knows, maybe these are conference games at that point.
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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