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BYU Football Independence: 10 Teams the Cougars Should Play Annually

David LynnCorrespondent IDecember 5, 2010

BYU Football Independence: 10 Teams the Cougars Should Play Annually

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    When BYU football announced its independence, one of the major issues that was brought up was the difficulty in scheduling.

    It is hard enough to find quality opponents when you only have to fill four or five spots, so what would the Cougars do when they needed to fill a full 12-game schedule?

    Notre Dame aids its scheduling by having a few teams it plays every year such as USC, Michigan and Navy. So who could BYU possibly find as annual opponents with its newfound independence?

    Obviously they won't have 10 teams they play every year, but if they could lock up three or four of these teams on an annual basis, it would go a long way toward filling the schedule with quality opponents.

Utah State

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    While this is obviously not a blockbuster matchup that will catapult BYU into the national championship, it is a rivalry that I would like to see fully reborn. I am huge on rivalries, especially when they are in-state, and I would love to see this one come back.

    Utah State is improving, and BYU could use a few teams on its schedule that are not powerhouses but can give them a good game and, as evidenced this year, provide the occasional unexpected result.

    It would also benefit the school in reducing travel costs with another game close to home.

Arizona

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    In the vein of old rivalries, this is another one I would like to see reborn.

    BYU and Arizona played often in the old days of the WAC, and they were always games I enjoyed for one reason or another. They have also had some excellent games in recent years.

    Arizona has definitely had its peaks and valleys in the current era, but it is a team that would boost the profile of the schedule as a member of the BCS while not being a dominant team that you need to fear every year.

    Proximity would also aid the rivalry and cut down on travel costs.

Nevada

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    Nevada is another team that BYU has played off and on over the years but never had a true rivalry with.

    It is an excellent team that is consistently at the top of the WAC, so it would be a welcome but not overwhelming addition to the schedule.

    The Wolf Pack's move to the MWC would only add fuel to the fire but may also be a reason that this deal would never happen. Games tied to the MWC would immediately increase the intensity, as no one is really happy that BYU left them all behind.

    I can't help but think that Craig Thompson would stop this from happening.

Texas

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    Admittedly this one is here for mostly selfish reasons, as these are my two favorite teams, but it would still be a great matchup.

    Both schools have excellent tradition and consistently have quality teams. Both teams were down this last year but will undoubtedly bounce back next year.

    They are scheduled for three games in the near future, starting next season, and I would like to see that continue. It should be a very interesting game in Austin next season, and maybe it will create a spark that leads to more games in the future.

    A good working relationship would also benefit Texas as they develop their own TV network, something BYU has already done successfully.

Washington

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    This is probably not a team many people would consider, but I think there is a basis for quite the quality rivalry.

    If the games they have played over the last decade are any indication, these teams really don't like each other, and that is the basis for any good rivalry.

    The games are always competitive, which also fuels the fire. There is also the controversy that took place after the infamous celebration penalty on Jake Locker, something that is always good for a rivalry.

    Lastly, you have the presence of a BYU alum at the helm of Washington. Steve Sarkisian was an excellent quarterback that has been even better as a college coach. That connection could be useful in creating a perennial contest between the schools.

Air Force

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    Air Force is one of those schools in a unique position where BYU fans take great pleasure in beating them but still have the utmost respect for them as well. I don't know if it is because Air Force is a service academy, but I have always held them in high regard.

    Games against the Falcons always carried a special air that I will miss if this relationship ends. The aforementioned animosity between MWC schools and BYU may prevent this matchup, at least for now, but I hope they find a way to get back together again at some point.

    I am sure the players will not miss the cut blocks and questionable blocking schemes, but it is a rivalry that will be remembered fondly.

Boise State

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    It goes without saying that Boise State would be a schedule strengthener, but there is so much more between these schools that would make for a great rivalry.

    The proximity of the schools is once again a benefit for animosity and travel costs.

    The Broncos' impending move to the MWC just as BYU walks out the door has to have upset some people. They thought they were joining a strong conference with perennial powerhouses, and now all three of them have left. As was mentioned before, a little tension makes for good football games.

    These teams are scheduled to play quite a few times in the next few years, which will likely set the stage for a solid rivalry or eliminate the chance of future games. 

Notre Dame

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    For as long as I can remember Notre Dame was the only school that was in a position to play all by itself, but now BYU is trying to do the same. This unique situation is exactly why they should make this into a legitimate rivalry.

    I won't begin to think that BYU is at the same level as Notre Dame when it comes to history and tradition. Nor do I think they will ever be there, but there is so much BYU could learn from Notre Dame. Independence is becoming increasingly more difficult to sustain, and it will require the help of experienced people to make it work.

    The religious backing of both schools adds a unique aspect to the matchup that could also prove beneficial.

    Notre Dame would also benefit through another quality opponent that would help them spread their market back out to the West, which has been largely dominated by USC in recent years and is now welcomingly vacant.

    There is a contract to get these teams together a lot in the coming years, and I would venture to guess that if it proves profitable, it will continue into the future.

TCU

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    I have grown to hate TCU almost as much as I hate Utah in their short time in the Mountain West. It is easy to hate a team that is so good and has always played your team tough.

    Right from the get-go TCU gave us some excellent matchups and has always kept us on our toes. While it was no fun watching them manhandle BYU in Ft. Worth last year, it is those beatings going back and forth that make a rivalry fun.

    There have been numerous excellent games over the years, and continuing this relationship would be mutually beneficial. TCU's impending departure to the Big East may make this a less likely scenario, but I can dream, can't I?

Utah

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    This should really go without saying, but in this age of money matters more than anything, I am scared this matchup will disappear.

    For anyone who follows either school, they know how big of a deal these games are. Even Kirk Herbstreit has given this rivalry a lot of credit after coming to Salt Lake for one of the games.

    It has provided some of the best football games I have ever seen and almost always includes large amounts of drama.

    Both schools are in the midst of major transitions, and there is no telling where this rivalry will end up (for now it has been moved to the beginning of the season), but it would be a major tragedy if the powers that be lost sight of the importance of pure rivalries and let this one slip away.

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