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Way-too-Early Ranking of BYU Football’s 2019 Opponents

NCAA Football: Missouri at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

We’re still about seven months until BYU kicks off its 2019 season August 29 versus Utah, but it’s never too early to look ahead, right?

BYU officially announced its 2019 schedule on Wednesday, so we’ll go ahead and give a very early ranking of the toughest games on BYU’s schedule.

1) Washington 9/21 (at BYU)

Washington is losing a lot of key players from a team that won the Pac 12 and played in the Rose Bowl, but Chris Peterson is arguably a top 5 coach in college football and the Huskies recruit as well as anyone out West. Gone are 4-year starting QB Jacob Browning, RB Myles Gaskin and some talented defensive players, but the Huskies have really good players waiting behind them and 7 returning starters on offense. The Huskies may be the highest ranked team BYU plays for the second season in a row.

2) Utah 8/29 (at BYU)

Utah could be number one on the list based on what they have returning and their 8-in-a-row winning streak over BYU, but we’ll slot them behind the Huskies based on UW’s recruiting prowess and recent success.

BYU tends to play well in season openers and should have plenty of motivation heading into the game, but stopping Zack Moss and dealing with Utah’s defensive front will be a handful. The Utes will be breaking in offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, who has extensive experience, but you never know how a team will perform in its first game with a new offense.

3) Tennessee 9/7 (at Tennessee)

Rocky Top. The orange checkered uniforms. 100,000+ screaming fans. Even though Tennessee has been down for the better part of a decade, they still are a proud program in the SEC.

The Vols finished 5-7 a year ago, but many of their top contributors were underclassmen. Tennessee recruits well and will have better athletes across the board. Beating a SEC team on the road won’t be easy for BYU.

Win or lose, this will be a fun road trip for fans that make it out to Knoxville.

4) USC 9/14 (at BYU)

USC is in a bit of turmoil after a 5-7 season under head coach Clay Helton, but you know the Trojans are always going to have dudes. QB JT Daniels is a talented QB and experienced his ups and downs as a true freshman last season.

If things go BYU’s way, this feels like it could be similar to the 2013 Texas game, where BYU blew out Texas at LES and forced DC Manny Diaz’s firing after the game and saw Mack Brown leave at the end of the season. If BYU beats the Trojans comfortably, that could be the nail in the coffin for Helton, much like it was for Brown.

With USC coming off a game versus Stanford the week prior and potential distractions surrounding Helton’s job status coming into the game, BYU could spring the upset in Provo.

5) Utah State — 11/2 (at Utah State)

The Aggies may not be as talented as Boise State, but with the game being in Logan and the beatdown they put on BYU in Provo last year, BYU will no doubt have this game circled on the calendar.

Gary Andersen is back after most of the previous left to Texas Tech, and he has one of the top QBs out West in Jordan Love. The Aggies offense likely won’t be as potent as last season, but they have a star QB returning and are coming a 11-2 finish and 21 final ranking.

6) Boise State — 10/19 (at BYU)

Another year, and another season that Boise State won the MWC and finished in the top 25. Boise State will still be talented, but they must replace starting QB Brett Rypien, star RB Alexander Mattison and their top two receivers from a season ago.

BYU came 2 yards short of beating the Broncos on the blue turf and will be looking for revenge in Provo.

7) South Florida — 10/12 (at USF)

After finishing the 2018 season at 7-6, USF will look to build on that and move up the AAC pecking order. The Bulls return starting QB Blake Barnett and 1100-yard rusher Jordan Conkrite for an offense that should be pretty good.

BYU will have a bye week to prepare for the game, but going across the country to Tampa won’t be easy.

8) San Diego State — 11/30 (at SDSU)

BYU ends the season at an old MWC/WAC rival that is coming off a 7-6 season. The Aztecs offense averaged just 22.3 ppg in 2018, but you can always count on them to have solid running backs. That will be the case once again, as they return 1000-yard rusher Juwan Washington.

San Diego State isn’t a tough place to play, but the Aztecs will be solid.

9) Toledo — 9/28 (at Toledo)

After a memorable 2016 game in Provo that saw Jamaal Williams and Kareem Hunt go head-to-head, BYU returns the game at the Glass Bowl. Toledo finished the season 7-6 and returns their top QB, running back and receiver from a season ago.

As BYU saw with Northern Illinois in October, beating solid MAC teams isn’t a given.

10) UMass — 11/23 (at UMass)

After playing in Gillette Stadium this past season, BYU will travel to UMass’ home field to take on the Minutemen in the season’s penultimate game. UMass loses some key contributors and should once again be a comfortable win.

11) Liberty — 11/9 (at BYU)

BYU will play fellow independent Liberty for the first time when the Flames come to Provo. In their inaugural FBS season, Liberty went 6-6 and averaged 33 ppg on offense.

Having former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze at Liberty will make for some interesting story lines.

12) Idaho State — 11/16 (at BYU)

BYU’s most likely win of the season will come via our good friends from Pocatello. ISU finished 6-5 last season at the FCS level.