Power Ranking the BYU 2013 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest

Samuel Benson@@sambbensonContributor IIIJune 18, 2013

Power Ranking the BYU 2013 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest

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    BYU may not have a schedule worthy of competing in the top end of the SEC, but it has assembled a spectacular one considering it's just its third year of independence. With plenty of members of Automatic Qualifying conferences and a few non-BCS powerhouses, it should pan out to be a great slate.

    But how strong is it? Which games will be the toughest to win and which will be easiest?

    It's tough to tell this early in the year, but there are some games that we can be pretty sure about.

    So, here are my rankings of the 2013 Cougars schedule.

12. Idaho State

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    2012 Record: 1-10

    Game Location: Provo, Utah

    Last Meeting: 2011, 56-3 W

    Despite playing at the FCS level, Idaho State has consistently struggled to find its feet year after year. It should be an easy win for BYU, and a good Saturday afternoon game to get it ready for Notre Dame.

11. Middle Tennessee

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    2013 Record: 8-4

    Game Location: Provo, Utah

    Last Meeting: None

    Middle Tennessee was a solid team in 2012, but struggled against teams like Arkansas State and McNeese State. It should be another home win for the Cougars, and a preparation game for the Utah State road matchup.

10. Georgia Tech

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    2012 Record: 7-7

    Location: Provo, Utah 

    Last Meeting: 2012, 41-17 W

    Georgia Tech capped of a .500 season last year with a win over USC in the Hyundai Sun Bowl, but it had its ups and downs throughout the season. With plenty of wins over ACC doormats and blowout losses against better programs, the Yellow Jackets will have much to prove this year. It should be an easy win for BYU at home, as long as it contains the GT rushing offense.

9. Houston

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    2012 Record: 5-7

    Game Location: Houston, Texas

    Last Meeting: None

    Houston may not have won any big games in 2012, but its offense was a force to be reckoned with. They had a top-15 passing offense, and with 328 passing yards per game, the Cougars were far from a joke. We'll see if BYU can pull off the road win, and if it can, it will be a big nod in the defense's direction.

8. Virginia

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    2012 Record: 4-8

    Game Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

    Last Meeting: 2000, 38-35 W

    Virginia is in quite a quarterback situation, with one of last year's two starters deciding to transfer and the other becoming academically ineligible. It will still have a solid backfield though, with last year's leading rusher and two top receivers returning.

7. Nevada

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    2012 Record: 7-6

    Game Location: Reno, Nevada

    Last Meeting: 2010, 27-13 L

    Nevada jumped to a 6-1 start to begin last season, but then faltered in the end with five losses in six games. Dual-threat quarterback Cody Fajardo will return to lead the top-10 rushing offense, and should be able to give the BYU defense a challenge.

6. Utah State

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    2012 Record: 11-2

    Game Location: Logan, Utah

    Last Meeting: 2012, 6-3 W

    Chuckie Keeton will return to lead this year's dangerous Utah State offense, and will try to improve off of last year's two-loss season; the nation's seventh-best defense will also try to capitalize on this opportunity. With a home game against BYU, the Aggies have a good shot at gaining revenge.

5. Boise State

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    2012 Record: 11-2

    Game Location: Provo, Utah

    Last Meeting: 2012, 7-6 L

    Boise State sneaked away with a win in last year's defensive showdown between the Cougars and Broncos, but this year could be different. Both teams should have vastly improved offenses and solid D's; the Friday-night matchup should be worth watching.

4. Notre Dame

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    2012 Record: 12-1

    Game Location: South Bend, Indiana

    Last Meeting: 2012, 17-14 L

    Notre Dame may have lost star linebacker Manti Te'o and quarterback Everett Golson, but it should still be a solid team. This late-season game on the road for BYU is a great chance to make up for last year's missed opportunities. 

3. Utah

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    2012 Record: 5-7 

    Game Location: Provo, Utah

    Last Meeting: 2012, 24-21 L

    If you argue that Utah will not be a great team in 2013 and that the Cougars should easily outmatch the Utes, I think you are right. But if you have followed the Utah-BYU rivalry in recent years, there's no way that this game will come easily. Bronco Mendenhall has struggled against the Utes during his tenure as head coach, and he will need to get a rivalry win to gain the respect of many fans. 

2. Texas

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    2012 Record: 9-4

    Game Location: Provo, Utah

    Last Meeting: 2011, 17-16 L

    Texas heads into this season with plenty of hype, as usual, and BYU will provide the Longhorns with their first legitimate challenge. UT opens against New Mexico State, then heads to Provo in week two, where BYU will have an opportunity to get a quality win. If the Cougars can get early-season momentum with a big home win, it could do them wonders.

1. Wisconsin

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    2012 Record: 8-6

    Game Location: Madison, Wisconsin

    Last Meeting: 1980, 28-3 W

    Wisconsin may have lost Montee Ball, but their top-15 rushing attack will still be stout. James White returns at running back, and a duo of quarterbacks in Curt Phillips and Joel Stave will lead the offense. Camp Randall Stadium is one of the toughest places to leave with a win in the nation, and BYU will have one heckuva challenge awaiting in Madison.