Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Commentary: Way-too-early breakdown of BYU football's 2014 schedule (12 items)

By , Deseret News

Feb. 25, 2014

BYU just released its official 2014 football schedule on Monday, and given that the Cougars' first game is still 186 days away, it's still way too early to talk about the teams BYU will face this season.

But when has that ever stopped us from doing it anyway?

The Cougars will play two teams for the first time and seven teams it played last season. While it's certainly not as rough a schedule as 2013 was, there's a few interesting games coming up for the Cougars in 2013.

Here's our way-too-early breakdown of BYU's 2013 schedule.

Lafe Peavler is a Web sports writer for the Deseret News. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler

1 of 12. at UConn, Friday, Aug. 29

2013 record: 3-9, 3-5 American Athletic Conference

Record vs. BYU: 0-0 (First matchup)

Way-too-early 2014 outlook: UConn fired head coach Paul Pasqualoni after the Huskies started 0-4, including a humiliating 33-18 loss to lower-division Towson. However, this team gradually improved as 2013 went on and finished the season on a three-game winning streak. Former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is the new head coach, and BYU is all too familiar with his stout defense. Furthermore, the Cougars have returning quarterback Casey Cochan to deal with. He worked into the starting position as a freshman last season, and he finished his final two games 61-of-87 (70.1 percent) for 772 yards and six touchdowns against Rutgers and Memphis. This team is more dangerous than last year's record indicates.

2 of 12. at Texas, Saturday, Sept. 6

2013 record: 8-5, 7-2 Big 12

Record vs. BYU: 1-3 (Lost 41-20 at BYU on Sept. 7, 2013)

Way-too-early 2014 outlook: Mack Brown rode off into the sunset after the 2013 season, leaving a ton of talent for incoming head coach Charlie Strong. Strong has already proven his salt at Louisville with a 37-15 record over four seasons and has a Sugar Bowl win over Florida on his resume. Texas had the No. 2 recruiting class of 2012 and the No. 3 recruiting class of 2011, according to Rivals.com. While Texas has underperformed a bit over the past few years, look for Strong to take advantage of all the talent he has at his disposal. In addition, the Longhorns will remember the 41-20 trouncing they took at the hands of BYU last season. It will be difficult for the Cougars to come out of Austin with a win. Look out for the dangerous running back duo of Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown.

3 of 12. vs. Houston, Thursday, Sept. 11

2013 record: 8-5, 5-3 American Athletic Conference

Record vs. BYU: 0-1 (Lost 47-46 at Reliant Stadium on Oct. 19, 2013)

Way-too-early 2014 outlook: Houston gave BYU almost all it could handle in last year's battle of Cougars vs. Cougars. Quarterback John O'Korn had a fantastic freshman season as he finished 2013 with 3,117 yards passing and 28 touchdowns. Furthermore, Houston just added a bunch of speedy wide receivers in this year's recruiting class, including Elton Dyer (6-3, ran a 4.4 40-yard dash) and high school track star Isaiah Johnson (6-2, ran a 4.5 40-yard dash). And don't forget about Deontay Greenberry, who finished 2013 with 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns. The BYU secondary will be tested early and often against the Cougars in Crimson. We could see another barn-burner in Provo.

4 of 12. vs. Virginia, Saturday, Sept. 20

2013 record: 2-10, 0-8 Atlantic Coast Conference

Record vs. BYU: 3-1 (Won 19-16 at Scott Stadium on Aug. 31, 2013)

Way-too-early 2014 outlook: Virginia's Week 1 win over the Cougars would be the only FBS team that the Cavaliers would beat in 2013. Head coach Mike London returns, and he knows that he'll need to win more than two games if he wants to return in 2015. David Watford struggled at quarterback, finishing with 2,202 yards, eight touchdowns and 15 interceptions. However, running back Kevin Parks is dangerous with 1,031 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Also, Virginia has some excellent young talent coming in with 5-star defensive tackle Andrew Brown and 5-star safety Quin Blanding both signing with the Cavaliers this year. BYU can't afford another sluggish game against Virginia this season.

5 of 12. vs. Utah State, Friday, Oct. 3

2013 record: 9-5, 7-1 Mountain West Conference

Record vs. BYU: 35-45-3 (Lost 31-14 at Romney Stadium on Oct. 4, 2013)

Way-too-early 2014 outlook: Utah State is the team on the rise in the state of Utah, particularly as it beat No. 23 Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton should be healthy again after suffering a knee injury against the Cougars last season. The Aggies will also have a solid backup quarterback in Darell Garretson, who had 1,446 yards and 10 touchdowns in Utah State's final eight games of 2013. Utah State loses a lot of key players on defense, including CB Nevin Lawson, LB Jake Doughty and SS Maurice Alexander. Regardless, Utah State will be BYU's toughest opponent it will face at home in 2014.

1. gdog3finally
West Jordan, Utah,
Feb. 25, 2014

Many BYU fans have been telling us that the weak independent schedule issue was over. This 2014 rundown is the WORST schedule yet. BYU played some solid opponents last year but half their schedule was against cream puffs. This is how you pad your win total.

If this schedule stays the same for next year (2014), then BYU has 10 low competition games out of 12. Utah has one of the absolute toughest schedules in the nation AGAIN this year. So, I predict BYU wins 10 games and thinks they deserve a shot at the BCS. Of course BYU will be better than Utah because Utah did them a favor by not scheduling them. Thus, no head to head competition leaves only overall win/loss comparisons. And we all know the schedules are so comparable.

2. wwookie
Payson, UT,
Feb. 25, 2014

Wow, what a non-schedule. Outside of the Texas game, no game where BYU shouldn't be the favorite.

10 or 11 wins easy this year.

3. Dennis
Harwich, MA,
Feb. 25, 2014

Uconn will put them one game in the loss column and the first thing out of many mouths will be "will until next year". UConn is a tough draw.

4. KimmyP
Granstville, UT,
Feb. 25, 2014

The combined won-loss record for the teams BYU faces this year is 10 games below .500, (71-81), yet cougar nation will believe they should be considered for a spot in the playoffs, when they win 10 games against this lineup of cupcakes. Seriously, Savannah State, I guess Dixie State was busy that weekend.

5. goducks
SANTA CLARA, UT,
Feb. 25, 2014

Thanks to November, 8-4.