BYU Cougars 2023 College Football Preview
July 17, 2023
Record – 8-5
ATS – 5-8
“We’re going streaking!” <Frank the Tank> <Old School>
Yup, it was a series of runs for the Cougars. They won four of their first five games, lost the next four in a row, and then rattled off four consecutive wins to end the season. Their best wins came vs Baylor (H) and Boise St (A), and it was nice to end the year on a positive note by slithering past SMU in the New Mexico Bowl (W 24-23).
BYU Cougars 2023 Outlook
The offense was decent enough LY (#49 FBS rushing offense, #49 passing) but their average point production was down for the second straight season. The Cougars scooped up QB Kedon Slovis from the transfer portal and he’s proven to be a fine distributor of the football during his time with USC and Pitt (9,973 career passing yards, 68-33 TD to INT). He’s also the master of taking the 17-yard sack so be warned. BYU loses their top-two RBs but UNLV transfer Aidan Robbins should fit in just fine (1,009, 9 TD LY). We like the starting lineup at WR/TE that includes wideouts Keanu Hill and Kody Epps (combined 13 TD LY) and TE Isaac Rex (14.5). The OL returns three starters and has excellent size, but note that they’ve got a lot of new faces in the two-deep. We think this offense will do just fine in the Big 12 and project about 30 PPG.
The Cougars returned a boatload of starters on defense LY but they were really bad when you consider the schedule they played (#94 FBS total defense, #97 scoring defense). Seven starters are retained including five of their top-six tacklers, but we’re not sure that’s gonna translate into success when you consider they’re joining the potent Big 12. The DL looks decent as they’ve got three returning starters mixed in with some nice additions from the portal. We’re not crazy about the LB unit tho and the depth at CB looks scary when you think about the offenses they’ll have to face. From a PENETRATION standpoint, the Cougars will have to up their game (15 sacks LY, #129 FBS) and we don’t see much hope for much improvement. Maybe new DC Jay Hill (Weber St) can make a yuuuge impact?
Punter Ryan Rehkow will be one of the best punters in the Big 12 (46.2, 42.1 LY) but they need to find a new PK. Hobbs Nyberg ** is back to handle the KR and PR duties and he did a good job in 2022.
** Great name. Just slightly-behind Quentin Hapsburg, primary villain in NAKED GUN 2 1/2: THE SMELL OF FEAR, on the Time Magazine All-Time Names List.
Overall – BYU should be able to get their FREAK ON in the first two weeks of the season as they host Sam Houston and Southern Utah. Sadly, they draw three of the four Big 12 heavy hitters and have to play two of them (TCU, Oklahoma) on the road.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at West Virginia (Nov 4)
This will be their 3rd road test in four weeks and they’ll be coming off a road game at Texas.
Season Win Total
Market consensus July 17
Over 5.5 +125
Under 5.5 -155
They’re definitely in tough with all those Big 12 match-ups but it’s hard to take the ‘under’ when it’s a guarantee that they start 2-0.
BYU has had only one losing season in seven years under the watchful eye of HC Kalini Sitake (2017). Prior to that, the Cougars last losing campaign came way back in 2004.
This is gonna be one of the more difficult teams to handicap over the course of the season. ALL THEY DO IS WIN….but how will that translate to their first season in the Big 12? We’re not too worried about the offense but the defense might still stink. We’ll call for six wins and a bowl appearance as they’re one of the more trustworthy new faces in the conference.