BYU has a glass-half-full schedule in 2011. It’s half full because there are great programs on the list and a bunch of intriguing matchups. But many of those great programs had rough seasons last year or are in rebuilding mode. And then there are the JV teams that come to Provo.
So which team on the slate is best? Which is worst?
This list isn’t about which teams have the best shot to beat the Cougars. It’s about which teams rank highest, or lowest (looking at you, NMSU) overall heading into the season.
So, without further ado, I present the 2011 BYU Cougar Opponent Power Rankings, in reverse order.
It's a bit sad to do this without New Mexico on the list. I'm positively weepy.
Things sure are Spartan in Sparta. After a 1-12 campaign in 2010, don’t expect much to get better for SJSU.
This may be the worst team in the country.
The Aggies are a bad football team. Bad facilities, bad talent, bad city. Honestly, they belong on the list of FCS schools that are probably better off in the FBS category (Along with the Sun Belt, what's left of the WAC and the bottom of the MWC. Oh, and Washington State).
The good news for NMSU is they aren’t the worst team in the Land of Trailer Parks…I mean Land of Enchantment. Looooo-booooos.
Idaho is certainly better than their brethren on the other side of the Gem State. The Vandals nearly made a bowl game last year, and should be in position to sneak into one again this year in a Boise State-less WAC.
But don’t expect a lot more.
As for ISU, they’re 1AA or FCS. So…yeah. But they would probably beat the previous two teams.
Ranking the bottom of this schedule is like picking the prettiest Wyoming Cheerleader. Finding gradations of bad is very difficult.
A loss to any of these bottom five teams this season by the Cougars instantly makes the season a failure.
Of the turds, Utah State is the shiniest. But a new QB and lack of depth all around will give Gary Anderson a rough job come September.
The Rebels may be in the SEC, but they’re a major step down from the Alabamas, LSUs and even Floridas of the conference.
There’s talent on the roster, but a seeming lack of cohesiveness and execution.
Word out of camp is one of quarterback controversy. So expect Mississippi to run the ball—a lot.
In today’s college football landscape, one-dimensional teams don’t get too far.
The Beavers get James Rogers back. But is he healed? Can he maintain a high level of play through an entire season?
There’s a solid amount of talent in the starting unit here, but beyond that is all question marks.
This season may turn out to be one of Mike Riley’s toughest.
Look, we know Texas had a bad season last year.
But they are also breaking in two new coordinators and it looks like they may be starting a freshman quarterback.
As talented as the roster may be overall, getting this group on the same page will take some time, and don’t expect it to all happen this year.
Expect another 7-5 season with lots of optimism for 2012.
The Utes beat up on a bunch of bad teams last year, but couldn’t beat any really good ones.
They bring back quarterback Jordan Wynn, but have some major issues on the offensive line. Not to mention the fact that Wynn has a surgically repaired shoulder and a new offense to learn.
But this team is very good defensively, especially on the defensive line, and that should keep them in most games.
There are a ton of unknowns for every team up to this point, and TCU has their share.
But the Frogs gets the third spot here on the strength of perennially good defense, overall athleticism and Gary Patterson’s coaching prowess.
Did you know TCU has finished 13-0, 12-1, 11-2, 8-5, 11-2 and 11-1 since joining the Mountain West? That’s pretty remarkable. No reason to think in a rebuilding year the Frogs aren’t at least 9-3.
Many fans have this already marked as a W on the schedule. But this team, like Hawaii, brings back a ton of experience and had a winning mentality last year.
I view this game like the Tulsa game a few years ago where BYU lost in an absolute shootout. Don’t be surprised if this game is close, and if UCF ends the season with just one or two losses.
Ahead of Texas? TCU? Utah?
Yes. Yes. And yes.
The Warriors aren’t getting a ton of run in the national media, but this is a very good team that put up a ton of yards last season. And when you really break down the other teams on the schedule, Hawaii has proven it can score and win as much or better than anyone else.
I fully expect UH to be undefeated when the Cougs visit December 3.
If nothing else, this team has less question marks than the rest of the slate.