As most outlets have predicted BYU to finish the season at 9-3 after suffering losses to Texas, Boise State and either Utah State or Central Florida, I believe that BYU will finish 11-1. Now let me explain.
BYU returns seven starters on offense including, Heisman hopefuls Taysom Hill at quarterback and Jamaal Williams at running back. Last year the new offense under Coach Anae installed a spread option attack that became tenth in the country rushing the ball and the fourteenth best offense in college football. In year two, with the key pieces all in place, the offense will further improve upon passing the ball and efficiency while still maintaining the powerful ground game.
The First Six:
BYU faces a schedule that will travel all over the country as usual. Seven opponents return from last year which includes traveling to Austin to face Texas after last year's great game in Provo. Also, among the entire schedule, BYU faces seven 1st or 2nd year head coaches. In those coaches and teams, there will be proven instability, inefficiency, and a constant learning curve while the players and coaches still get used to their new surroundings. Luckily, BYU will play their toughest opponent on the year in the second week of play, Texas. Charlie Strong is instilling new ideals into the Longhorn program and many experts predict that Texas will have a very rough start and may even have a very rough year in Strong's first year on the job.
That is good news for BYU as they face them early in the season. Bad news for that game is that it's in Austin and that the Longhorns will be seeking revenge for the loss last year in Provo. After the Texas game, the next six games are against strong opponents. A two game road stretch against a pass happy Houston squad will be a great test for BYU and their six returning starters on defense. While, the next game at Virginia should be a revenge game for BYU after the monsoon game in Charlottesville last year that saw Virginia squeak out a win. Then comes Utah State and a returning Chuckie Keaton, another Heisman Hopeful. Yet Utah State will only be returning 7 starters on their whole team and nobody knows what Keaton may look like this far into the season. A trap game is next when BYU travels to Orlando to face UCF, who is replacing Blake Bortles along with their running back and four offensive lineman. If BYU isn't too overconfident going into this game, then they should come out the solid winner.
The Last Six:
Halfway through the season, BYU is looking at 6-0 or 5-1 and a very interesting second half of the season on the way. Against Nevada last year, Taysom Hill looked incredible and should continue to do so this year as Brian Polian and the Wolfpack seem to be lost after Chris Ault retired. Boise State proves to always be a challenger for any opponent in the country, especially on the blue turf home field advantage. I believe this could be the very best game of the year for the Cougars as they take on a new coach, with another Heisman hopeful in Jay Ajayi, and 7 returning starters on a very good defense this year. With a supposedly slow transition from Chris Peterson to Bryan Harsin this could be a very good Boise team and a great test for BYU.
The next four games look to be easy wins for BYU, as they travel to Middle Tennessee, that lost 8 starters on their offense. UNLV had one of the worst defenses in the country last year and they return 5 starters to that horrid defense as they travel to Provo. Savannah State is playing way out of their league after only winning one total game all of last year in the FCS, and only return 8 total starters. The Cal game will prove to be an interesting game as BYU heads into Berkeley. BYU could be undefeated or at worst I believe with two losses to Boise and Texas. Cal has an astounding young quarterback in Jared Goff in an explosive offense that can light up the air. If BYU isn't careful this game could unravel all the hard work the Cougars have put in all season.
The Cougars seem to be destined for a great season this year, whether it be undefeated or a 10 win campaign. Either way, let's watch and see.