Final preseason breakdown of BYU, Utah and Utah State's 2014 football schedules (40 items)
BYU, Utah and Utah State are coming to the end of their fall camps, so it's time to do the final preseason breakdown of the Aggies', Cougars' and Utes' 2014 football schedules before the season starts.
There's nothing way too early about this breakdown.
It's year four of independence for BYU, and the pressure is on for the Cougars to remain nationally relevent in a shifting college football landscape. They'll need to make the most of opportunites at Texas and at Central Florida to help their cause. Meanwhile, Utah has a brutally difficult Pac-12 slate to worry about this season. The Utes will face five teams ranked in the preseason AP Top 25. Finally, Utah State has a solid chance of winning its first Mountain West Conference title.
Here's the final breakdown of BYU, Utah and Utah State's schedules.
1 of 40. BYU's 2014 schedule
Sept. 6: at Texas
Sept. 11: vs. Houston
Sept. 20: vs. Virginia
Oct. 3: vs. Utah State
Oct. 9: at Central Florida
Oct. 18: vs. Nevada
Oct. 25: at Boise State
Nov. 1: at Middle Tennessee State
Nov. 15: vs. UNLV
Nov. 22: vs. Savannah State
Nov. 29: at California
2 of 40. at UConn, Friday, Aug. 29
2013 record: 3-9, 3-5 American Athletic Conference
Fall outlook: Former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco has his work cut out for him as UConn's new head coach. The offseason hasn't been kind to the Huskies, as leading rusher Lyle McCombs was dismissed from the team for repeated off-the-field issues. The pressure will be on sophomore QB Casey Cochran, who was just named the Huskies starter. Cochran helped UConn end the season on a three-game winning streak with 883 yards passing, seven touchdowns and three interceptions in those games. However, the Huskies are rebuilding at multiple positions, as UConn has to replace four starters on the offensive line.
3 of 40. at Texas, Saturday, Sept. 6
2013 record: 8-5, 7-2 Big 12
Fall outlook: BYU will have the Longhorns' full attention this fall, after Taysom Hill ran for 259 yards and three touchdowns against Texas at LaVell Edwards Stadium last season. Texas isn't going to let that happen again at Darrell K. Royal Stadium. The Longhorns have a new head coach in Charlie Strong, and he has plenty of talent already at his disposal, notably at running back. The Cougar defense will have its hands full with Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray. That depth took a hit as Texas dismissed Joe Bergeron. Strong dismissed six players in the span of two days in July. The Longhorns have issues at quarterback, since David Ash broke his foot in spring practice. Ash was able to return to football in fall camp and will be the starter. On defense, the Longhorns should be much more familiar with the read option BYU used to trample the Texas defense for 550 yards rushing. This will be BYU's most difficult game of 2014.
4 of 40. vs. Houston, Thursday, Sept. 11
2013 record: 8-5, 5-3 American Athletic Conference
Fall outlook: Houston will test BYU's secondary early and often in this game. The Cougars in blue should remember John O'Korn, since he threw for 363 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in last year's barn burner. O'Korn struggled late in the season in losses against UCF, Louisville, Cincinnati and Vanderbilt. That said, Houston has some excellent new weapons at wide receiver in Elton Dyer and Isaiah Johnson. Also, Deontay Greenberry returns after a 1,202-yard and 11-touchdown receiving season. On defense, Houston was excellent at forcing turnovers last season. The Cougars in scarlet led the FBS with a turnover margin with 25. While BYU should be favored in this game at home, the short turnaround after the Texas game will be a factor in what will likely be another high-scoring game.
5 of 40. vs. Virginia, Saturday, Sept. 20
2013 record: 2-10, 0-8 Atlantic Coast Conference
Fall outlook: The Cavaliers beat BYU to start the 2013 season and failed to win another game against an FBS opponent. Yes, there was a two-hour rain delay and this was BYU's first game under Robert Anae's new "Go fast, go hard" offense, but this loss hurt the Cougars more than any other last season. BYU should have a chip on its shoulder in this game, particularly after the ACC's new scheduling rules that don't count the Cougars as a "Power 5" opponent. Virginia head coach Mike London has named sophomore Greyson Lambert as the starter at quarterback out of spring camp. Lambert struggled on the field last season, completing just 33 of his 75 passing attempts for 340 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. However, Kevin Parks is a threat at running back, rushing for 1,031 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Virginia has more talent than its two wins from last season indicate, and if it can find a way to put it all together, this could be a dangerous team. That said, BYU has plenty of motivation to absolutely destroy the Cavaliers in Provo.