BYU faces two Big East, two ACC, two MWC, one Big 12, one Pac-12, one Sun Belt, one Big 10 and one independent Notre Dame. Considering the other conferences that schedule is very similar in difficulty to any in the Big 10, Pac-12, ACC and harder than any in the Big East or the remaining conferences. Two more games against ACC- or Big East-level opponents would up the strength of that schedule that could be recognized as national ranking worthy if BYU can just win.
Virginia had a tough 2012 with loses to teams not ACC-calibre. BYU should be able to take advantage of Virginia as Taysom Hill gains his legs. It is a pity James Lark won't be there to start and transition Hill into the game. A redshirt year when Jake Heaps was flirting with BYU might have solved that problem.
But that is yet another coaching management problem that is in the past. Ammon Olsen will have to step in and create the balance needed, or Jason Munns. Munns will be a senior, and yet another great talent will be going to waste potentially.
Texas at 8-3, with Kansas State to go, had a solid year but gave up a lot of points to Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Baylor. They also scored a lot of points against New Mexico, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Baylor and 31 and 33 against Texas Tech and Iowa State, respectively. The bottom line—Texas is vulnerable with a strong BYU defense and a capable offense.
At this time a bye week gives BYU time to prepare for a home game against Utah. Utah was lousy in 2012, having learned the Pac-12 spanks you if you are not prepared to play big-time football. Colorado learned that as well and Coach Embree learned that lesson immediately. The game with Utah in 2012 showed they are vulnerable and with the loss of their star defensive player will be more so when Utah faces BYU in Provo, Utah.
Utah State could well prove to be a harder game to win than Utah. Chuckie Keeton did everything this year we all hoped Riley Nelson would do. At 10-2, with a bowl game to come, Utah State will be feeling its oats when BYU travels to Logan, Utah. A bye week ahead of the game should allow BYU to get ready for the new amended "holy war."
Three Games to Success and Prominence
The following three games against Georgia Tech, at Houston and Boise State should determine if BYU will have another rough year, have a winning season or move to national rankings. Those three games will have BYU proving itself as all three are winnable.
Another bye at this time allows BYU to prepare for Wisconsin. This might be the Oregon State game of 2013. Wisconsin will be ready for BYU, but having gone through the meat of its season by that point with games against Ohio State, Northwestern, Iowa, Arizona State and Purdue, they might just be beat up enough for BYU to steal one.
At this time, don't look for that to happen. The BYU offense is just not ready for Wisconsin yet. Perhaps Jeff Tedford could come in and get the BYU offense ready for 2013, but don't count on him showing up.
Three Wins Come With an Upset
The remaining three games against Middle Tennessee, Notre Dame and Hawaii are all winnable as well. Manti Te'o will be in the NFL sacking quarterbacks, and though favored for a good season again, Notre Dame will have faced a grueling schedule of Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Arizona State, USC, Air Force, Navy and Pittsburgh before BYU comes to town. Look for an upset as Taysom Hill at this point should be into the full offense and mobile. This could be the game that redeems a disappointing season for BYU, or propels them into the top 10.
The game against Hawaii will be ugly and high scoring, but be a good primer to a bowl game.