Ranking the Importance of BYU Football’s Games In The 2019 Season

BYU Utah Kalani Sitake

Ranking the Importance of BYU Football’s Games In The 2019 Season


By: Jacob Nielson
BYU is ready to embark on year 9 as an independent. As the ESPN contract expiration looms, and the team fights their way back to relevancy, this is an important year, for Coach Kalani and the whole university. The young but fairly experienced team will be ready to take the field, come August 29, and we all look forward to seeing how the team will compete against a grueling schedule. So with that, I present the 12 games, from the least important to the most:
  • 12. Idaho State (11/16): Because BYU needed that 6th home game. Its senior day, maybe let Austin Kafentzis play Quarterback.
  • 11. UMASS (11/23): In 2014, Tom Holmoe made the announcement of a 4 game series with UMASS, promptly sending the fanbase online to look up if this was actually a real football team. 5 years, and one humiliating loss later, the Cougars have to take on the final trek out to the frozen tundra of Gillette Stadium. Here’s to hoping that they just go take care of business, and then we will let the minutemen fall back into obscurity, and act like these 4 games never happened.
  • 10. Liberty (11/9): The similarities of the two schools, (Private, Conservative, Christian universities) brings a pinch of intrigue into this game, and Liberty has shown small signs of an ability to win in the FBS level (Ex: Beating Baylor), but the fact is that they are still extremely young on their journey to becoming a legitimate FBS football team, and this will likely just turn into a nice Saturday to rest the starters and to enjoy a cougar tail.
  • 9. Toledo (9/28): A rematch from the instant classic in 2016 when Jamaal went off and MackBrown took off and we all thought we were gonna lose until a Rhett Almond field goal saved the day. This year’s version of Toledo will not be as talented as the 2016 team, but this is a road game and anything can happen in Macnation. This will be the lightest test up to this point in the season, but after getting through the Top-Heavy schedule, the Cougs might be a little beat up. An important game though to ensure bowl-eligibility.
  • 8. South Florida (10/12): Yet another game on the list that will be played in a likely underwhelming road atmosphere. South Florida, under coach Charlie Strong, had a tough 2018 season, starting out 7-0, before dropping their final 6 games, but with a new OC and a finally healthy veteran quarterback Blake Barnett, the Bulls are hoping to rebound in 2019 and win a bit more. While American Conference expansion is no longer in the works, playing schools from the conference is always fun, and a decisive win in Orlando would strengthen BYU’s status as an independent and further show that they play a higher level of football than the G5 schools.
  • 7. San Diego State (11/30): Brigham has the fun opportunity to close out the regular season against an old MWC foe. The Aztecs, who are expected to make a run at the MWC championship game, are lead by running back Juwan Washington, and a stout defense, and will be a worthy opponent for the Cougs. Hopefully, this game won’t be the decider between bowl eligibility or starting the off-season but will be a chance to get one more quality road win to wrap up a successful season.
  • 6. USC (9/14): The Trojans have quite the schedule this season, and will come marching into Provo in-between games vs Stanford and Utah. But the Cougars will be in the middle of a difficult slate themselves, and this game will be great to see the grit and determination of this team. Brigham will be going up against the premier team of California, and a win over USC would be fantastic for their recruiting efforts in the hotbed of So Cal. A win appears unlikely, but possible.
  • 5. Washington (9/21): Last year’s 35-7 drubbing on primetime TV was an embarrassment to the university and killed a lot of the season’s momentum. So the Cougs will be out looking for revenge on the 21st night of September, poised to pull off the upset on their home turf. While BYU does not have to deal with former Huskie quarterback Jake Browning, they still face a difficult task against a stout defense and an extremely athletic team. The Cougs just need to come out like they have nothing to lose because a loss is expected and would not spoil the season, but a win would be a big deal and could be one of the crowning achievements of the year. Also a chance to spoil the homecoming of former Orem star WR Puka Nacua.
  • 4. Tennessee (9/7): What will be the big road game of the 2019 season, this is a seemingly ideal situation for the Cougars. A chance to play a huge SEC name in a ginormous stadium with lots of eyeballs watching, while said SEC team is a little bit down and Brigham has a legitimate shot at winning. Games like this one are ones that BYU has to show up for, in order to prove that independence is formidable, and further increase their respect on a national level. Sandwiched between the Utah and USC games, it will be necessary for the Cougs to be laser-focused coming into this one, and go and make it happen.
  • 3. Boise St (10/19): The image of Zach Wilson getting sacked as time expired last year on the Smurf Turf resonates in the minds of this team and further increases the disdain for Boise football. This annual rivalry will have a new chapter written in Provo on October 19th and give the Cougs an opportunity to avenge the past three losses and get things going in the right direction. This final big home game of the season will give Zach Wilson and the offense the chance to shine and further establish themselves, and feels like the best shot that the Cougs have for a win in terms of the three rivalry games. The university should make this game a Blackout and turn LES into an insane atmosphere.
  • 2. Utah St (11/2): A trip to Logan in November may not be the glitziest thing in the world, but this game plays a pivotal role in measuring the progress of this team and the success of the season. The Aggies have a chance to win this game for the third time in a row for the first time since 1974, and in doing so would prove their superiority in the rivalry and would be an “udder” embarrassment for the Cougs. A talented USU team led by Junior QB Jordan Love is anticipated to be rolling through conference play and should be ready to go out and make a statement. But on the flip side, this game will likely give BYU a chance to receive a statement victory of their own. With the rest of the November slate full of FBS fringe schools and paycheck games, this will be one of the final tests of the season and yet another chance for BYU to pick up a rivalry win, and bring balance to the college football landscape in the Beehive State.
  • 1. Utah (8/29): By the time kickoff comes this late summer evening, the hype, the anticipation, and the expectation will be at an all-time high. There is so much at stake here for the Cougar Football team, and regardless of how good the Utes should be this year, losing is not an option. The relevancy clock is ticking for this Royal Bunch, and a 10-year losing streak in this game has staggered the program and set the fan base into a panic. Winning the Holy War is the single most important thing that BYU has to do in order to flip the switch. Recruiting, ticket sales, excitement, pride, and all things that can help to build a winning football culture, will be immensely benefited by a win, and a loss, well, will be utterly demoralizing, diminishing the purpose of the season two days before the rest of College Football kicks off, and leave everybody looking for answers.

Matt Nielson has been writing about the college sports landscape in Utah and the Intermountain West since 2010. When he’s not pretending to be a professional blogger, he works full time as a residential real estate agent and house flipper. Matt graduated from Brigham Young University in 2000. He and his family reside in Salt Lake City, UT.


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