The Pac 12 and Mountain West Conferences announced Thursday that they will resume football this Fall — the MWC will begin October 24 and the Pac 12 November 6. Additionally, the Pac 12 will begin men’s and women’s college basketball competition November 25 after initially delaying until January.
Both of these decisions should have mostly positive impacts for BYU football and basketball.
The Pac 12 and MWC will be playing a conference only schedule. However, MWC commissioner Craig Thompson indicated that BYU may play Boise State this season; November 6 or 7 looks like a possible date.
Although BYU may not be on the schedule for any MWC/Pac 12 teams outside of Boise State, BYU may be able to fill in if there are COVID cancellations. The Pac 12 will play eight games in eight weeks, meaning they have no makeup days if games are cancelled. If we’ve learned anything this football season, we know that game cancellations due to COVID are imminent. If Pac 12 teams want to boost their strength of schedule for the College Football Playoff or at-large NY6 consideration, BYU would likely be the best available opponent to fill in.
BYU has plenty of spots available in November/December — as of now November 21 versus North Alabama is the lone game scheduled. Say Oregon is 4-0 at the end of November and their December 5 opponent cancels due to COVID. Would they be open to scheduling a game versus BYU? Well, if that want a comparable amount of games versus the other P5 conferences and add a potential top 25 team to the schedule, BYU would be a great opponent to fit in.
Tom Holmoe has kept schedule flexibility for late in the season and BYU could be rewarded with P5 games as a result.
One downside could be BYU’s bowl destination. When the Pac 12 and MWC were out of the picture, BYU had a high likelihood of facing a high caliber P5 opponent. Now with every conference back in and no win threshold to become bowl eligible, BYU’s postseason destination is more murky. If BYU finishes undefeated or close to it, however, they should be rewarded with a solid bowl game.
The college basketball season starts 11/25. BYU originally had three games versus Pac 12 teams: Oregon on 11/17 in Portland, home versus Utah 12/12, and versus Arizona State 12/19 in Phoenix. Of those three, the Utah and Arizona State games are trending in the right direction. One source close to the program told Vanquish the Foe that the Utah game in Provo is “looking good” and the ASU game is “looking like a good possibility”; the Oregon game is unlikely to happen at this point. Arizona State is a likely preseason top 25 team and Utah should compete for a tourney spot, so both of those teams would be great opponents on the schedule.
COVID can change everything of course, so we won’t know for sure what the schedule will look like until it is officially released. Mark Pope said that BYU will try to schedule the toughest opponents, which would provide BYU opportunities to lock down an at-large bid during the non-conference season.