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ESPN's initial advanced stats projections are not high on BYU football. Is that fair?

If ESPN's FPI is correct, BYU probably won't be heading back to the Top 25 this season.

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We're still several months away from the first major preseason polls and deep offseason prediction magazines. Heck, many major college football programs haven't even finished spring practice yet. But at least one major outlet has put together some advanced-stats focused projections for next season, and it isn't especially complementary for the Cougars.

ESPN has updated their FPI, or Football Power Index, to give win probabilities for each team. BYU's preseason FPI rank is 43rd, which doesn't seem completely unreasonable, but their win-loss projections for each game might give some Cougar fans pause. The FPI lists BYU's projected W-L record to be 6.4-5.6, and only lists BYU as a better-than-50% favorite in just five games next season.

The FPI ranks teams based on a variety of factors, including recruiting, strength of schedule, prior year's performances, coaching tenure, and more.

There are plenty of reasons to think BYU might not reach a nine+ win level next year, despite returning a relatively experienced roster with multiple high level players. They are, after all, breaking in a virtually entirely new coaching staff, with relatively inexperienced options at many key positions. They're changing their schemes. And, of course, the schedule projects to be the most difficult in recent memory.

A few of the win probabilities may seem a little surprising. The FPI actually gives Southern Utah a slightly better chance at upsetting BYU than UMass, which might be a good indicator for how bad the Minutemen are projected to be. The game that BYU is least likely to win is also a bit surprising, as the Cougars are only given a 22.9% chance of beating West Virginia in their battle just outside of Washington D.C, a metro that has a fair amount of Cougar fans. I personally would have picked UCLA or Michigan State instead.

My own personal *hot take* is taking a more pessimistic view that ESPN's metric seems to here isn't unreasonable. If you wanted to talk yourself into BYU being a .500 team, or maybe even a little worse, I think you could do it and you wouldn't be crazy. But right now, I think I'd like BYU chance's of slightly beating the projections. There may be plenty of teams here that have a higher baseline talent level than BYU, but I'm not sure anybody on this list is unbeatable for next season. UCLA, Michigan State, Utah and Mississippi State, after all, are losing a ton of important pieces from last year.

You can click the link below, but here's the total breakdown of win probabilities: