BYU’s football season got off to a promising start. After an offensive explosion against South Florida, they defeated No. 9 Baylor at home to rise to No. 12 in the rankings.
Things looked like they were going to ride the momentum from the two strong previous seasons, where BYU was a combined 21-4. They began to garner early New Year’s Six Bowl buzz.
Then it all came crashing down. First, they lost in blowout fashion in Eugene to the Ducks. There was hardly any shame in that, as the Ducks now look to be a solid team that plays in a hostile stadium.
The Cougars rattled off two less-than-inspiring wins against Wyoming and Utah State. Then the skid hit, with three consecutive losses to Notre Dame, Arkansas and Liberty.
The 41-14 thumping at the hands of Liberty was the eye-opener that this season is circling the drain. At 4-4, as an independent team for one last season, the only thing to play for is a bowl game.
That goal seems in jeopardy now.
To qualify for a bowl, BYU must win six games. Their four remaining opponents are East Carolina, Boise State, Utah Tech, and Stanford. According to ESPN’s SP+ rankings, which has BYU at 76th, all three of the remaining FBS programs left on BYU’s schedule are ranked higher. ECU (60th), Boise State (71st), and Stanford (73rd) all look to be tough matchups for the reeling Cougars to end the season.
Is it even safe to assume BYU will beat Utah Tech of the FCS? Plenty of FCS programs have beaten FBS, even Power 5, programs. BYU’s defense allowed 41 points to a team that only mustered 21 points against FCS Gardner-Webb. Weber State had a much easier time with Utah State than BYU did, as well.
BYU must win two of their final four games to make a bowl. Even if BYU does beat Utah Tech, where does the other win come from? ECU has won two in a row including blowing out eventual Big 12 mate UCF 34-13. Their quarterback, Holton Ahlers, is one of the most experienced signal callers in the entire country. The Pirates have reason to believe they can run and pass all over BYU’s defense that resembles warm swiss cheese.
Then BYU travels to the Smurf Turf at Boise State, where they have only beaten the Broncos once in six tries. After Utah Tech, they travel to Palo Alto to face the Cardinal of Stanford. That is the same Stanford team who went into South Bend and beat Notre Dame, who defeated BYU at a “neutral site.” They have an NFL prospect in Tanner McKee, who turned down an offer from BYU.
Getting to a bowl is no longer a guarantee. It’s also the bare minimum for any college team to consider their season not a total failure.
CBS’ Jerry Palm currently has BYU slated into the Armed Forces Bowl against SMU. ESPN has them in the LendingTree Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
Those sites seem optimistic that BYU will notch two more wins. Given the recent results, nothing will be handed to the Cougars. They need to turn things around and earn it on the field to avoid a disaster.