BYU Football 2023 Schedule: Things I like and Things I don’t
After months of waiting, delays, and speculation, the figurative envelope carrying the inaugural Big 12 schedule arrived at the Student Athlete Building in Provo on Tuesday. The letter might as well have been postmarked July 1, 2011, but even if it was late, it’s been welcomed with open arms. Having had the opportunity to digest the news, here are five things I like and five things I dislike about BYU’s first conference slate.
Things I like
1. BYU is in a Power 5 conference
After 50 years of being one of the winningest programs in the sport, BYU has a seat at the table. The schedule’s existence is enough to make a grown man weep, and certainly enough to view the schedule as perfection no matter who is on it.
2. The home slate looks light and that’s good
Many of the Big 12’s top teams will not be visiting Provo this season, but that could be a blessing in disguise. SUU and Sam Houston State were both FCS level in 2022. Cincinnati is making the same transition to the P5 level without the head coach that got them there. Iowa State and Oklahoma both finished 2022 with losing records. While it is not ideal for season ticket values, BYU’s most winnable games will be played where BYU is best at winning. That’s a positive.
October 3, bye week before TCU
Having a bye before week 11 for the first time in three years is a huge win for player health and safety. Having a full 15 days to prepare before traveling to face the defending national runner-up is a bigger win.
4. BYU gets Texas and Oklahoma
BYU is the only Big 12 newcomer that gets a crack at both Texas and Oklahoma this season. Visiting Austin is a college football bucket list item and Oklahoma will be the first blue blood to visit Lavell Edwards Stadium in a decade. While they won’t be in the conference long, it’s fun to play both. Remember: No matter what happens this fall, BYU will be the only Big 12 member with an all-time winning record against both.
5. Oklahoma on Senior Day
Let’s do a quick rundown of BYU’s eight Senior Day opponents since 2016. Utah Tech, Idaho State twice, San Diego State, New Mexico State, UMASS, Utah State and… Oklahoma. First off, I love the shade thrown by the Conference to send a departing member to Provo in late November. I also love the match up for fans and players who put up with 10 years of lackluster November matchups. I love that for the first time in years, a senior class will be sent off in a Gonzaga 2020 type atmosphere.
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Things I don’t like
1. The first Big12 game is on the road
It’s ok to be a little bummed that BYU’s first P5 conference game is away from home. Enjoying the biggest moment for BYU football since 1984 from a couch rather than at Lavell Edwards Stadium feels wrong. At the end of the day, though, as long as the game happens, it doesn’t matter where it’s played. Lawrence, Kansas is a great city with great barbecue and great sports history. The moment will be worth the trip.
2. BYU’s Big 12 Home Opener against a fellow newcomer on a Friday
Let me first express how generous it was for the Big 12 to accommodate BYU’s wishes to not play on general conference Saturday. However, I’d prefer BYU’s first BIG 12 home game wouldn’t require fans scrambling to get off work. Additionally, I love Cincinnati, but playing them first feels a bit anticlimactic since we are not accustomed to seeing the Big 12 logo on their uniform like we are an Oklahoma State or Texas. Still, Cincinnati will become just the second College Football Playoff participant to visit Provo and would make a celebration partner for a historic moment at Lavell Edwards Stadium.
3. No Baylor
I get that BYU and Baylor played the last two years, but there is just too much to love about this match up for it not to be played every year. It rates through the roof on TV, the fanbases are similar demographically, and between former coaches and players, Baylor has already transformed themselves into BYU-Waco. It might take a second for the dust to settle, but I am ready for the Bible Bash to become an annual tradition.
4. Two weeks on the road to Texas and West Virginia
BYU will travel over 3,000 miles during that two-week stretch. Brutally. Couple that with this being the back end of a BIG 12 gauntlet (at TCU, vs Texas Tech, at Texas and at West Virginia), BYU could be reeling by the time they reach Morgantown. West Virginia is one of the more winnable games on paper, but coming off that stretch makes it more dicey than most BYU fans would like.
5. Two home games between September 9th and November 11th
Six home games per year is a college football standard, but BYU’s current slate features two early, two late, and a long way from home in between. BYU will play two home games between September 9th and November 11th, which is a bummer for fans, but also something to monitor as BYU lives out their suitcases for nearly two months.
Bonus thing I like
1. BYU is in a P5 conference
Did I mention this yet? This schedule release represents blood, sweat and tears of coaches, administrators and student athletes over the past 100 years that have led the university to this moment. Allow me to speak for all of them in saying this moment is long overdue.
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