We’re firmly in the midst of the offseason, but we’re just over a month until Fall Camp begins and 71 days until BYU travels to Vegas to take on Arizona. BYU has a solid schedule in 2021 with seven P5 opponents and some quality G5 opponents.
We rank the 12 games on BYU’s schedule in terms of difficulty, factoring in the opponent, location, and any other miscellaneous factors.
#12 Idaho State, November 6
BYU will host its lone FCS opponent on Senior Day. This will be the end of 10 straight weeks with games before a bye week, so we could see a lot of backups here.
#11 USF, September 25
Talent wise USF is probably better than Georgia Southern and Utah State, but they’ll be traveling cross country to play in the Provo elevation. USF is coming off a 1-8 season and their Vegas over/under win total is 3. BYU will host USF after three straight P5 games and could come out flat, but I expect a comfortable BYU win.
#10 at Georgia Southern, November 20
BYU will travel across the country to play the Eagles after a bye week. Where will BYU’s head be? Will BYU be checked out after a disappointing season? Will they be looking ahead to USC the next week? All those things are possible, and GSU is a tricky opponent due to their triple option scheme. BYU will have a bye week to prepare, but the Eagles are a solid opponent. They are coming off a 8-5 season and the Vegas over/under win total is 4.5 wins. BYU should win comfortably but a lot of factors will come into play.
#9 at Utah State, October 1
Utah State looks like a mess on paper after a 1-5 season and welcoming in new coach Blake Anderson from Arkansas State. This is a rivalry game, though, and Utah State has given BYU some troubles in Logan the last decade. Utah State is in full rebuild mode and Vegas set their over/under win total at 3, so BYU should take care of business in Cache Valley.
#8 Arizona, September 4
BYU will open its season in Vegas versus a Wildcats team that has a new head coach. BYU will have a huge contingent of fans and all eyes will be on BYU’s new starting QB. Arizona is a P5 team, but to be honest they probably won’t be very good. They’ll likely be picked to finish last in the Pac 12 and have a over/under win total of just 2.5. If BYU loses this game, it could be a looong season.
#7 Boise State, October 9
BYU got the blue turf monkey of its back last year with a dominating win in Boise, but these games are typically close. Boise State may be better than a couple of teams ahead of them on this list, but the game being in Provo makes me put the Broncos here.
#6 at Washington State, October 23
The Cougs in red showed some promise last year under first year head coach Nick Rolovich. Wazzu has a really talented back in Max Borghi and a good receivers group which will test BYU’s defense. Wazzu’s early over/under win total is 6, so they will be a formidable opponent for BYU on the road.
#5 Virginia, October 30
Bronco Mendenhall and his staff will be making their return to Provo. Virginia is a good team, but the side stories make this game more difficult. Both coaching staffs will be motivated to win this game, and I’m sure Kalani would love to prove any lingering naysayers wrong that say Bronco is/was a better head coach. Virginia returns starting QB Brennan Armstrong who threw for over 2000 yards and 18 TDs but also tossed 11 interceptions.
#4 at Baylor, October 16
BYU will head to Waco to take on new Baylor OC Jeff Grimes. #4 may be too high for Baylor since they are coming off a 2-7 season, but I think Baylor has enough talent to bounce back to be a respectable Big 12 team. The early over/under for Baylor is 5.5 wins.
I thought about putting the Sun Devils at two, but offseason controversy could impact ASU’s 2021 season. Jayden Daniels is one of the top QBs in the country and ASU has recruited well recently (probably due in part to their cheating!), so this will be tough game for BYU in Provo.
#2 Utah, September 11
Can BYU break a 9-game losing streak to the Utes? If it doesn’t happen this year, then the drought will likely stretch to 15 years since BYU doesn’t play Utah again until 2024. Utah will be breaking in some key offensive transfers at QB, RB, and WR, but they have a stellar offensive line and a great defense as usual. BYU is at home and has a talent, but knocking off the Utes will be tough.
#1 at USC, November 27
BYU pulled off the upset over USC in Provo in 2019, but beating the Trojans in the season finale will be a tall task. One thing to watch is motivation. I expect BYU to come out fired up no matter how the season has gone, but USC could come out flat if they already clinched the Pac 12 South or if they are in the midst of a disappointing season. BYU gave QB Kedon Slovis fits in 2019, but Slovis is more experienced now and is a possible first round pick.