Despite losing to Wisconsin, BYU is still on the right track for a good, even great season. I think any honest BYU fan who knows about the goings on around college football will tell you that they were not surprised that BYU lost, and will readily admit that the Badgers are a really good team. Today, ESPN show host Colin Cowherd said on twitter:
3 FB teams are much better than anyone gives them credit for this year---Arizona State, Wisconsin and BYU.— Colin Cowherd (@ESPN_Colin) November 9, 2013
I think he might have picked the three most under valued teams in college football this year and the computers agree. Despite the loss the Cougars only lost a few places in any of the computer rankings, now holding a 27.2 average in the 6 BCS computers. These same computer rankings give Arizona State a 14.3 and Wisconsin a 20.8. ASU can win the Pac12 south by either A) beating UCLA in two weeks or B) UCLA losing to Washington or USC, both of which are very possible. ASU would play in the Pac12 championship game and likely lose to Stanford, making ASU the second best team in the second best conference. Wisconsin on the other hand is also a top tier team 'losing' only to ASU (kind of) and the #4 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. The Badgers are easily the second best team- head a shoulders above the rest, in a not-so-hot Big10. BYU proved that it could hang with big teams by keeping it close with Wisconsin. Yes they were outplayed and lost by 10, but it's really not that bad because Wisconsin is a really good team. I have the utmost respect for the Badgers and I am proud of BYU for playing them a closely as they did.
Enough of my imagined rankings and made up scenarios, onto our future games:
They lost again last weekend, setting the Cougars up to take on a 3-7 D-I team with two of their three wins coming against D-II opponents. This still is looking like a great game for the team to rest up, get healthy, but still play a game of football. It's almost like a bye week all over again except there is a game to watch, even if only the first quarter or two are interesting. If you have a cousin, old high school friend, or brother-in-law's sister's old boy friend on the third string team, this will be the game you get to see him play.
The Fighting Irish got punched in the face by a not-that-great Pitt team Saturday night, falling 28-21. Pitt has already lost to Georgia Tech, so by mathematical logic, BYU has already won this game. (BYU>Ga Tech>Pitt>Notre Dame, ergo BYU>Notre Dame.) The Irish have had an okay season, but stumbled in a few key games and even when they've won it was often by the skin of their teeth. I don't expect BYU to win by a lot (no more than 10) but they should have a pretty good handle on the game. The computers now give BYU a 64% edge in South Bend.
The Wolfpack lost to a ho-hum Colorado State team, making the season ending trip to Reno look even easier. 97% of computer simulated outcomes show BYU winning this game, the other 3% had critical errors and shut down (just kidding, the didn't really) so at the very least, the Cougars will get to end on a high note this season.
The Fight Hunger Bowl
Since BYU is for sure not getting invited to the BCS this year (barring a total collapse at 20+ other programs, allow yourself to imagine that for a moment....) I'll try to do a little preview on our bowl destination this year. The Fight Hunger Bowl will match BYU against the 6th place team from the Pac-12 conference. Right now that is technically Oregon State, but most predictions have either USC or Washington (currently 5th and 7th respectively). All three of those teams would present good challenges and great match ups for the Cougars, all three being well respected teams who BYU has played recently or will play in the coming years. (While a rematch with Utah is a long shot, there is a potential for the chance to brag to Ute fans that we beat a team they couldn't in USC or Oregon State). I'd say BYU's chances for winning against any of those opponents is about 50% and the computer's agree with me.
Texas has continued to be BYU's biggest supporter this year. After the beat down in Provo everyone dismissed the Longhorns as Big -2 fodder, but they've not lost since and are looking to make another splash against Oklahoma State next weekend. I had additionally hoped to have Houston go on to mow down the AAC, but UCF has decided to keep that title to itself, we still might get a win over Louisville from the other Cougars which would be another slight bolster to our record.
While a 10-2 season would have been phenomenal, 9-3 is still really good and that's where I see BYU headed. Let's just hope the Cougars can cruise through the Bengals and get properly prepared for a big trip to Notre Dame. Enjoy the semi-bye week everyone, watch some basketball too!