When BYU Football enters the Big 12, they need to think carefully about how they plan their games.
Alabama hasn’t left the SEC footprint outside of bowl games since 2011, when they traveled to Penn State. In fact, most if not all SEC teams play seven home games every single season, and some only play four away games with another game on the neutral side that, you guessed it, is within the SEC’s footprint. So yeah, that’s why every time you turn on a Florida game it seems they’re playing in The Swamp.
Aside from playing games almost exclusively at home, P5 teams are also very specific about who they play against. For most teams with an eight-game conference schedule, that means going up against an FCS school, two G5 teams, and one P5 team. For a team with nine conference games, the general model is FCS, G5, P5.
But these are just generalizations and not the rule. There can be examples of teams breaking away from this. Oklahoma will play two G5s and one P5 this season. UCLA plays two FCS and one G5. And Arizona State is playing two FCS and a P5.
What is the right path for BYU Football?
The reason some of these schools are deviating from the typical planning model is generally due to branding. Alabama can get away with playing two FCS, a G5 and a lower P5 in its non-conference and still be No. 1 in the nation. However, a team like California might need some quality non-conference wins to make the board.
For the BYU moving into the Big 12, they’ll certainly fall more on the “proof” scale. For that reason, unless there are multiple P5s, the Cougars probably shouldn’t schedule very many, if any, FCS games early in the Big 12. That is, if they want to play for the playoffs. The best model would probably be two G5s and a P5 game, hopefully against Utah. The second best option would be two P5s with an FCS game in between.
It’s also possible for the Cougars to take the path just to get to a bowl game. In this scenario, the ideal schedule would be FCS, G5, and either another FCS or G5. Those games won’t help BYU’s rankings, but it would be three wins, so BYU would only need to go 3-6 in Big 12 play to play in a postseason bowl that’s better than BYU’s currently comes out with a 10-2 independent record.
What do you think? Should the Cougars plan ahead heavily, or should they sit back and make sure bowl games are still played?