Loyal Cougars

Just how good is BYU’s football schedule?

We’ve heard repeatedly just how tough the 2013 BYU football schedule will be, possibly the toughest schedule in school history. Honestly, as a team who’s spent most of their time in a second-tier conference, there aren’t a ton of great schedules to look back on. According to Sports-Reference.com, the toughest schedules in modern history are 2003 and 2004, and neither of those seasons turned out very well for the Gary Crowton-coached Cougars.

So how does this season compare to those two Crowton seasons? Using the preseason 2013 Sagarin ratings, we’ll compare those to the final ratings from 2003 and 2004. Sagarin ratings are in parentheses.

2013 Schedule

Notre Dame (11)
Texas (13)
Boise State (15)
Wisconsin (17)
Georgia Tech (46)
Utah State (51)
Utah (58)
Houston (64)
Virginia (68)
Nevada (80)
Middle Tennessee State (111)
Idaho State (207)

Average rating: 48.5 (does not include Idaho State)
Median rating: 51 (does not include Idaho State)
Top 4 rating: 14

Comments: I didn’t include Idaho State as it’s an FCS school and it’s an extra game compared to the other seasons. This is a top heavy schedule, with four potential top 15 teams, and then possibly not another team in the top 50. Greatest ever? Look below and make your own determination. And what will really determine how tough this schedule was will be how these teams finish, not how they started in a computer ranking.


USC (1)
Utah (4)
Boise State (10)
Notre Dame (31)
New Mexico (43)
Stanford (46)
Wyoming (49)
Air Force (72)
Colorado State (78)
San Diego State (81)
UNLV (110)

Average rating: 47.7
Median rating: 46
Top 4 rating: 11.5

Comments: Three top 10 teams (which is a possible outcome for the 2013 schedule) with USC being maybe the best team we ever played. The out of conference schedule is almost identical to 2003. Sports-Reference.com ranks this as the toughest schedule in school history.


USC (2)
Boise State (12)
Utah (25)
Georgia Tech (33)
Notre Dame (43)
Colorado State (44)
New Mexico (49)
Air Force (54)
UNLV (65)
San Diego State (68)
Wyoming (83)

Average rating: 43.5 (does not include Idaho State)
Median rating: 44 (does not include Idaho State)
Top 4 rating: 18

Comments: This one is not nearly as top heavy as 2004 or as 2013 likely will be, but there was only one terrible team on the schedule: Wyoming. Sports-Reference.com ranks this as the second most difficult schedule of the modern era.

2013 certainly has the potential to be the toughest schedule in school history, particularly if Utah, Georgia Tech, Houston and/or Virginia are significantly better than Sagarin projects them. But until games are played, it’s impossible to know. There is no goliath on the 2013 docket like mid-2000s USC, but I believe Boise State and Wisconsin could both finish in the top 10 and play in the final BCS games. Regardless, it’s likely to be one of the three toughest schedules in modern history, and if Bronco & Co. can pull out 10 wins, it will go down as one of the school’s greatest seasons as well.