Coming off a 4-9 season, most BYU fans’ expectations were understandably low coming into 2018. Some fans predicted one win in September, others hoped for two, and the most optimistic bunch of fans crossed their fingers for three wins in the opening month of the season.
According to Jeff Sagarin’s college football rankings, BYU had the fifth hardest September schedule in college football. Only Iowa State, UCLA, USC and South Carolina had tougher September schedules. BYU went 1-1 against Sagarin top 10 teams Washington (7) and Wisconsin (9), and pulled off an upset as a double-digit underdog on the road at Arizona (66). Sagarin has BYU ranked 62.
BYU looked outmatched in every facet of the game at Washington, but the Huskies will likely be the toughest team BYU plays all year. BYU has already gone on the road and knocked off the Badgers, and showed that they can go toe-to-toe with Pac 12 teams Cal and Arizona.
Friday’s game will be a true barometer of how BYU’s season will go. If BYU can beat the Aggies, the Cougars will move to 4-2 and 8 or wins becomes a very attainable outcome. If Utah State comes out on top. BYU will likely be fighting to get to bowl eligibility.
The Battle for the Wagon Wheel is expected to be close, as Vegas has BYU as a mere 2.5-point favorite. ESPN’s Football Power Index has the Aggies favored in the game, giving BYU a 41.2% chance to win.
3-2 against a top 5 schedule is commendable, but BYU isn’t here to claim Strength of Schedule championships. BYU’s true progress from last season will become more clear Friday night after an in-state matchup versus one of the Mountain West’s top teams.