(Photo by BYU photo)
The following post was written by reporter Jake Edmunds and producer Jarom Jordan
"It's been a few years in the making."
Mark your calendars. The 2013 BYU football schedule was released Monday evening on True Blue with Dave McCann and athletic director Tom Holmoe.
“I think when we started this adventure of independence a couple of years ago we stated that it's going to be awhile before these schedules start to even out and I think this '13 schedule is one that has some real solid teams,” said Holmoe.
8/31 @ Virginia
9/27 Middle Tennessee St (Friday)
10/4 @ Utah State (Friday)
10/12 Georgia Tech
10/19 @ Houston
10/26 Boise State
11/9 @ Wisconsin
11/16 Idaho State
11/23 @ Notre Dame
11/30 @ Nevada
The first surprise is a game that is not found on the schedule. Hawaii was originally scheduled to play BYU on December 7, 2013, but just about week before BYU’s schedule was released, the Mountain West Conference announced it would split into divisions and play an inaugural conference championship that same day. The dominoes fell and the 2013 BYU vs. Hawaii matchup is no more.
The latest addition to the Cougars’ schedule is Nevada, who will host BYU in Reno on November 30, 2013. The Cougars hold a 4-2-2 all-time record against the Wolfpack, but the last time these two teams met UNR came away with the easy victory 27-13. You may remember the quarterback of the ‘Pack during that game. He just so happens to be playing on the biggest stage in football next week. UNR will have to fill some big holes, the biggest of which come from the running back position and head coach spot. They will have to rely on the explosiveness of quarterback Cody Fajardo to carry the load on offense.
With teams like Texas, Utah, Georgia Tech, and Boise all coming to Provo, 2013 may just end up as one of the most entertaining home tickets in recent BYU history. Add road games like Notre Dame, Houston, Wisconsin and Virginia and the Cougars have a full plate of challenging opponents. In fact, when all is said and done, BYU could play as many as six ranked teams.
"This is a game that we need to circle on our calendar,” said Holmoe. 2013 will mark the final game of a consecutive string of BYU vs. Utah rivalry games that stretched back to 1945. Texas is a 2 for 1 series. BYU played game one in Austin in 2011. "We are going to look to do some games in the future outside of (the 2 for 1 series)."
The Cougars and Utes are scheduled to play again in 2016, but 2014 and 2015 will be void of a Holy War. "We weren't looking for a break in this."
BYU has struggled against Utah in recent games losing the last three matchups by a combined score of 95-47. The September 21 matchup will likely be an emotional and heated game.
Texas is a 2 for 1 series. BYU played game one in Austin in 2011. "We are going to look to do some games in the future outside of (the 2 for 1 series)."
Speaking of Utah State, the Cougars have won two straight against USU after losing in embarrassing fashion to the Aggies just two seasons ago. BYU returns to Logan this year and the Aggies will no doubt have revenge on their minds.
"It's a big game,” said Holmoe. “I like the fact that the Aggie Cougar game has turned into a good rivalry. For a while there it wasn't, but now it definitely is. We have a great deal of respect for what they've done in Logan. Now going up there to keep this rivalry going will be a big thing for this state."
Boise State will return its game last season to Provo in the beginning of a long series with the Broncos. Tom Holmoe said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the game eventually changes to a Friday night. "This is a regional conflict. We need to get the upper hand in this."
The Cougars only FCS team on the schedule is Idaho State in the home finale November 16th. "Originally we had another team penciled in and it was really close to be contracted and that team kind of left us in a lurch. We are really grateful that Idaho State had an open date and we could fill that in with a sixth home game."
The toughest part of the Cougars’ schedule will likely be the entire month of November. BYU will travel to Madison, WI to take on the Badgers who will likely enter the season ranked in the top-25. BYU will get a short break against Idaho State at home, but it will be their only home game of the month. Bronco and the Cougars will then have to travel back to the Midwest to take on the runners up to the national championship, Notre Dame, for the second year in a row. BYU finishes the season in Reno to take on the Wolfpack. The Cougars will need to forget their road woes of the 2012 season if they want to compete come November. Holmoe revealed the Badgers will return the game to Provo as the season opener in 2017.
As for Notre Dame, Holmoe thinks the results will be different this year in South Bend. "I know that this time going back there, there will be enough guys on the team that had that experience from last year that they won't be staring at Touchdown Jesus before the game."
This is a schedule that many fans have been looking forward to since BYU went independent. It will not be what BYU fans are used to with gimme games over weeks at a time. The Cougars will have to dig deep and find their identity early on if they want to make it nine consecutive bowl appearances.
After this season BYU is bowless for the moment but Holmoe said BYU is working with ESPN to figure out bowl games starting in 2014. "Nobody is really opening up their schedules."
"We've had some interesting discussions for some possible combinations where if we're a certain record we could get into a higher bowl…"
"We not going to leave any stone left unturned when it comes to bowls."
The 2013 schedule is challenging but Holmoe acknowledges that scheduling a game is just the beginning.
"If you going to be an independent team you have to play good, top 20 teams and you have to win. It really does no good to play those teams and have close games."