There is no doubt that BYU will be playing their toughest schedule in a decade, but according to Tom Fornelli at CBS, it’s one of the toughest in the nation. BYU finds itself at number 4, sandwiched between SEC powers Auburn and Alabama. The other two teams in the top 5 are Wisconsin and USC.
Talk about some big names to be associated with. Cougar fans knew that the schedule was difficult, but surely didn’t expect their name to be thrown around with the likes of the Crimson Tide or Badgers.
Tom sums up the good and the bad of being an independent:
“The good thing about being an independent program is that you can choose your schedule... The bad thing about being an independent program in the era of the CFP is you have to put together a schedule that will impress the committee.”
The first few years of being an independent, BYU fell right in with that “bad” explanation, as they struggled to have a tough schedule. Tom Holmoe and Bronco Mendenhall did a great job of making schedule improvements. Last year was the first example of a strong schedule and 2016 brings a P-5 caliber schedule and then some.
Athlon Sports also sees the upcoming schedule to be tough for BYU, ranking them in the top 15. Houston at 25, is the only other non “P-5” school on the list and BYU is the only Utah team ranked.
In 2015, the Cougars had a brutal September, traveling all over the country in the span of four weeks to play top tier programs. September and October this year look to be just as difficult. In fact, the only game that the Cougars have above a 50 percent chance of winning in those first two months according to ESPN, is Toledo.
Needless to say, Kalani Sitake and his relatively inexperienced staff have a real challenge ahead of them. Will they be up to the challenge? We will have to wait and see.