BYU faces yet another tough slate of games in their concluding season of independence before darting to the Big 12. The era of independence allowed BYU to play a myriad of storied programs and top-ranked teams around the country.
2022 is another chapter in that story and several opponents are highly regarded among the experts. ESPN recently came out with their FPI (Football Power Index) rankings for the 2022 season.
Let’s take a look at who the top five opponents will be for BYU this coming fall based on the FPI rankings.
5. Boise State (#47)
BYU’s rivals to the northwest played spoiler last year, ending the Cougars’ perfect record after a 5-0 start that saw them rise to No. 10 in the AP poll. This season, the Broncos have their sights set on improving off of their mediocre 7-5 campaign in 2021. Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier returns for his senior year, which is the biggest reason why Boise is getting pre-season respect. They are also only two seasons removed from four straight double-digit win seasons. This will also be the last time these two teams will play each other for the foreseeable future, as they agreed to end the series as BYU begins Big 12 play in 2023.
4. Arkansas (#29)
The Razorbacks mirrored BYU’s start to the season, getting highly ranked with a 4-0 start in 2021. They got all the way up to No. 8 in the AP poll before losing to eventual national champion Georgia in Athens. They return their mammoth of a man at quarterback in K.J. Jefferson, who threw for over 2,600 yards while also rushing for over 600 yards. They have athletes all over the field. Third-year head coach Sam Pittman has done an excellent job turning this program around and his squad was rewarded with their first .500 or better season in SEC play since 2015.
3. Oregon (#23)
The Ducks are the defending PAC-12 North Division champs after a 10-4 season, finishing No. 22 in the final AP poll. They notched one of the biggest regular season wins in all of college football, beating Ohio State in Columbus in Week 2. In one of the most surprising stories of the offseason, highly touted quarterback prospect Bo Nix transferred from Auburn to Oregon. He inherits a team with plenty of talent to work with. This is easily BYU’s toughest true road game of the 2022 season.
2. Baylor (#19)
BYU will look for revenge after a frustrating loss in Waco last season. As a future Big 12 foe, the Bears offer a stiff test on both sides of the ball. Dave Aranda’s squad is fresh off of a Big 12 title and winning the Sugar Bowl over Ole Miss. They barely missed the College Football Playoff, finishing No. 5 in the final AP poll. They turn to Blake Shapen to take the reins at quarterback, as the team looks to defend their Big 12 title.
1. Notre Dame (#5)
Easily the highest profile game of the season is their matchup in Las Vegas with Notre Dame. The two storied independent programs finally meet after a nine-year layoff. This is a program that has gone to two College Football Playoffs in the last four seasons and reached four New Year’s Six Bowls. Marcus Freeman takes over as head man as Brian Kelly fled to LSU. Freeman inherits one of the most talented rosters in all of college football. Notre Dame has finished inside the top 10 in back-to-back seasons. They finished No. 8 in the polls. Tyler Buchner is assumed to be the starter at quarterback, who is a former four-star quarterback from San Diego. Edge rusher Isaiah Foskey could be a top 10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Irish will be an enormous test for the Cougars in Sin City.
FPI rankings of the other six FBS opponents
East Carolina, #78
Utah State, #88