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Game-By-Game Predictions for BYU in 2023

As fall camp nears, it’s time to examine the 2023 season as a whole one last time. Let’s make some picks.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Brigham Young Gabriel Mayberry-USA TODAY Sports

BYU is set to kick off fall camp ahead of the 2023 season next week. In celebration of the return of football in some capacity, let’s take a look at the game-by-game breakdown for the 2023 season with predictions.

Sep. 2 vs. Sam Houston Bearkats

Most will take one glance at this and think BYU is opening with two FCS opponents at home. However, the Bearkats are embarking on their first season as an FBS program in Conference USA. BYU will be their first ever opponent as an FBS school.

Sam Houston is just three years removed from winning an FCS national title in the COVID-altered spring season of 2020-2021. However, they have experienced a drop-off since then, going 5-4 last season.

There is no reason to think BYU can’t treat Sam Houston like a de facto FCS program, given they have not had the chance to build their roster fully at the FBS level yet.

Pick: BYU 48, Sam Houston, 10

Sep. 9 vs Southern Utah Thunderbirds

After getting a semi-FCS opponent at home to open the year, they get a true FCS program in Week 2 in SUU. The Cougars and Thunderbirds’ only meeting thus far came in 2016, a 37-7 win for BYU.

SUU went 5-6 last season. BYU’s offense should be humming by now under quarterback Kedon Slovis. They get basically two warm-up games before their first tough stretch of the season.

Pick: BYU 52, SUU 7

Sep. 16 @ Arkansas Razorbacks

A season ago, the Razorbacks came to Provo and did basically anything they wanted on offense. Quarterback KJ Jefferson is one of the most talented signal callers in college football. He passed for 367 yards and five touchdowns while Raheim Sanders ran for 175 yards and two scores.

BYU heads into 2023 with a revamped defensive staff and philosophy under defensive coordinator Jay Hill. This will be their first true test, as winning in Fayetteville is never easy. Arkansas has most of their high-flying attack returning. They do replace their offensive coordinator, but most expect this unit to be prolific once again.

The questions will be can BYU’s new-look defense hold them at bay enough to where BYU’s offense can keep up? That will be a tall task. However, it could prove to be one of the most entertaining games of the season.

Pick: Arkansas 38, BYU 35

Sep. 23 @ Kansas Jayhawks

The first ever Big 12 Conference game in BYU history will take place in Lawrence against the Jayhawks. They were the upstart darlings of last season, getting as high as 19th in the AP poll. Quarterback Jalon Daniels returns after being one of the most productive signal callers in the conference last season before an injury derailed it.

This will be a tight one. Kansas is not the Kansas football team of yesteryear. This is a game where BYU’s defense could have their “coming out party.”

Pick: BYU 31, Kansas 24

Sep. 29 vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

BYU’s first home game in conference play comes against Cincinnati. Plenty is in favor of the Cougars. It will be a night game on a Friday. BYU is accustomed to playing in such situations, especially at home at elevation. Cincinnati will be at a disadvantage.

The Bearcats are breaking in a new head coach and new quarterback. Scott Satterfield has his work cut out for him. However, Cincy is not devoid of talent, just two seasons removed from a College Football Playoff berth.

The conditions favor BYU in a close one.

Pick: BYU 30, Cincinnati 28

Oct. 14 @ TCU Horned Frogs

It’s not every day that BYU plays the national title runner-up. TCU will likely look a lot different though, given the large amount of turnover.

Chandler Morris looks to be the heir apparent to Max Duggan at QB. But any Sonny Dykes-led squad will have a capable offense.

Both teams are looking to improve on defense. This seems like a stiff road test for BYU, given the Horned Frogs are still very talented coming off of an appearance in the national title game.

Pick: TCU 27, BYU 21

Oct. 21 vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Red Raiders are becoming a sneaky pick to make a run at the conference title. Tyler Shough leads a high-flying offensive attack for head coach Joey McGuire. They are looking to build off of a solid 8-5 season that saw them beat Texas, Oklahoma, and Ole Miss in the Texas Bowl.

The big advantage is that they travel to BYU. They will be coming off of a tough two-week stretch that sees them play Baylor on the road and reigning Big 12 champion Kansas State before their trip to Provo.

Texas Tech was towards the bottom of the Big 12 in passing defense last year, ranking 103rd in the FBS in passing yards allowed per game. BYU’s offense should take advantage.

BYU should get up for this game. The unofficial “Mike Leach Bowl” of the Big 12 will be a fun one.

Pick: BYU 38, Texas Tech 34

Oct. 28 @ Texas Longhorns

Let’s not kid ourselves. There are some serious expectations in Austin this year for the Longhorns. Former BYU great Steve Sarkisian leads the program for the third season. Texas might have the best quarterback depth chart in the entire country with the very talented Quinn Ewers leading the way, followed closely by blue-chip prospect Arch Manning entering the program.

Last year, they lost to Alabama by one point. They obliterated Oklahoma. They beat Big 12 champion Kansas State on the road. This is definitely a team on the rise. BYU will have their work cut out for them playing in Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium.

Taysom Hill isn’t coming out of that tunnel for the Cougars (at least not in uniform).

Pick: Texas 33, BYU 21

Nov. 4 @ West Virginia Mountaineers

If there is one thing we know Kedon Slovis can do, it’s beat West Virginia. He tossed for 308 yards and a touchdown in a 38-31 victory for Pitt to open last season.

The Mountaineers were arguably one of the worst Big 12 programs last season, finishing 5-7 and 3-6 in conference play. Their defense was porous, ranking 116th in points per game allowed.

This will be the longest trip BYU takes in 2023. Head coach Neal Brown will have his players motivated to put that tough season behind them. This will not be an easy trip for the Cougars, with West Virginia looking to be improved all across the board. Plus, this road trip will come after BYU has played three tough teams from Texas, two being on the road.

Still, BYU is more talented and experienced on paper.

Pick: BYU 37, West Virginia 27

Nov. 11 vs. Iowa State Cyclones

The only Big 12 team that was worse than West Virginia last season was Iowa State. That is an odd place for a Matt Campbell squad, who is one of the most respected head coaches in the game. It would not be wise to bet on the Cyclones being cellar-dwellers for a second straight season.

Their offense is revamped and their defense was their strength last season. If this game were in Ames, BYU fans would have more reason to worry. Given that it’s Iowa State’s first trip to Provo since 1973, advantage Cougars.

Pick: BYU 24, Iowa State 17

Nov. 18 vs. Oklahoma Sooners

What an opponent for BYU’s Senior Day. Fans had grown accustomed to cupcake schedules in November, usually with an FCS squad for Senior Day.

Welcome to the Big 12 era where they get the Oklahoma Sooners for such an occasion.

Granted, the Sooners had a fall from grace last year under rookie head coach Brent Venables, going 6-7.

Don’t count on that happening again. This roster is too talented. BYU is familiar with their quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who played for UCF in the 2020 Boca Raton Bowl. BYU won handily 49-23.

He was named Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year last season.

Defense is Venables’ calling card. They should bounce back in a big way. It would not be surprising to see Oklahoma gunning for 10-plus wins again. The Cougars should give them a fight on their home turf.

Pick: Oklahoma 31, BYU 27

Nov. 25 @ Oklahoma State Cowboys

What a way for BYU to end their season- Thanksgiving weekend in Stillwater. Mike Gundy’s squad had an out-of-character 7-6 campaign in 2022. Alan Bowman will take the reins on the field with the offense.

After a large amount of turnover, Gundy’s mettle as head coach will be tested. Expect him to pass it. This will be a tough road environment for BYU after enduring their first season as a Power 5 program.

Pick: Oklahoma State 28, BYU 21

With these picks, that puts BYU at 7-5. In most circles, that would be a rousing success for Kalani Sitake’s crew in their first year with the Big Boys. This would put them in a bowl game, likely against another Power 5 program for a fun end to the first season of a brand new era of BYU football.