If college football gets pushed back and we are forced to have a shortened season due to COVID-19, what would an eight game schedule look like? Let’s look at the ideal situation for each of the FBS teams, starting with BYU.
This might be the most difficult to schedule because BYU is an Independent so they will have to try to string eight non-conference games together. In an eight-game schedule I expect everyone in a conference to play at least everyone in their division, which amounts to five or six games. That means they’d only have room for two conference games at most so it’s possible some teams would cut BYU; it depends on travel and a lot of other factors. I think BYU will really try to get the in-state schools and some Independents on their schedule. Here is what I think would be an ideal schedule for them:
Week 1: vs Utah State
This would set up perfectly because they can keep the game as scheduled on October 2nd if football is only pushed back one month. It will be on a Friday and the day before General Conference, so it will be great for both fan bases to be able to watch football on Friday and then their church meetings the rest of the weekend. It also helps BYU that they wouldn’t have a BYE like USU would in the regular schedule. In this game both would be healthy in Week 1. It would be an intense Battle for the Old Wagon Wheel to start the season off.
Week 2: at Utah Utes
What is better than an in-state rivalry game in Week 1? Another in-state rivalry game in Week 2 of course! BYU has lost to Utah the last 9 games in this rivalry but many of those games have been closely contested. This would be a good matchup in Week 2 for both sides and really build up excitement for fans starving for some college football.
Week 3: vs Houston Cougars
BYU can keep this game as is on the schedule. Even if BYU loses at the Holy War they can always come back the next week and have a Battle of the Cougars in Provo. If BYU plays good football they could find themselves 2-1 following this game. If they play bad they could be 0-3. I think they will be at least 1-2 after this game. They have enough talent that this should be a much easier schedule than the four Power 5 teams they are used to playing right out of the gate.
Week 4: at Liberty
At this point it may be hard to expect every remaining team on the schedule to choose BYU for their non-conference game. This is where they band together with the Independents. They can face a Liberty team that played them closely at home last year and win a road game if they keep that road warrior mentality effort that helped them win a big road game at Tennessee last year.
Week 5: BYE
This is a great time for BYU to keep the BYE on the schedule. They will have played for 4 straight weeks. It will be time to rest up.
Week 6: at Boise
BYU can keep this rivalry game as is on the schedule and look to beat a Boise team for the second straight year. That’s easier said than done though. Boise is no slouch at the G5 level.
Week 7: vs New Mexico State
Again, it might be tough to get a lot of P5 or even G5 teams on the schedule, but it will be easier for BYU to get some Independents on there. It might weaken their strength of schedule, but should help them rack up more wins than they usually do. BYU honestly could keep their FCS game vs North Alabama here but honestly, that game might be tougher than the recent New Mexico State teams we’ve seen.
Week 8: vs Army
Army is a solid Independent team that would be good for BYU to play at this point in the season. It would be cool for the players to travel to a neutral site game and play against athletes who are protecting our country. Somewhere like Mile High Stadium in Denver would be a good location. Even though it would basically be a home game for BYU, the Air Force Academy could even get in on the action.
Week 9: at Notre Dame
As much as BYU fans want to see P5 games, they might want to see more wins this year. They will try to schedule tough, but if opposing teams are going to pick two non-conference games, they might look at recent history and see that playing BYU is no guaranteed victory. Notre Dame is a solid Independent that generates P5 level revenue. As an Independent they could work out a deal to play this game.
Prediction: BYU might try to switch out one of these G5 games with a P5 if they can but it will be tough. Even with Notre Dame and Utah, that still leaves 25% of their season playing P5 level teams. They might want to shoot for 3 or 4 games like that but they do also want to make sure they get at least 4 wins to become bowl eligible. That’s not guaranteed if their schedule becomes tougher than this. They were going to play six P5 games in 2020 but it might not be the year to do that. They should play two or maybe three P5 teams and try to rack up some wins. A record of 5-3 would be the minimum requirement for this season but if BYU has a good run they could go 6-2 or maybe 7-1 in this schedule.
I predict BYU goes 5-3 here with losses to Utah, Boise State and one other team. Notre Dame might be their upset of the season. The Cougars usually have at least a couple upsets but also are capable of playing down to their opponents. I will say they either lose to Notre Dame or Utah State. Notre Dame is obviously a better program but in a competitive in-state rivalry game the Aggies will be motivated to make up for last year. The Cougars will have to be motivated every game to make this a special season.