BYU Football’s Best, Worst, Most Likely Scenarios For 2023 Season

Sep 1, 2023, 11:54 AM

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PROVO, Utah – BYU football is back to kick off a historic inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference.

In terms of excitement, it’s among the program’s most anticipated years in the 21st century. Yet, the expectations are relatively low coming into this season.

BYU was tabbed to finish 11th in the preseason Big 12 poll by the league media members. Will they exceed those expectations?

Eighth-year BYU head coach Kalani Sitake believes this year’s group is his deepest roster. But he’s never faced the rigors of a Power Five league schedule plus an out-of-conference tilt in SEC Country against Arkansas.

The fate of BYU’s season potentially rests on the arm of Pitt transfer QB Kedon Slovis. Slovis has had a seamless transition to Provo, where people feel he’s been around the program for years rather than the last eight months.

Along with Slovis, BYU brought in 21 scholarship transfers that rank as the 20th-best transfer portal class in the country.

So, what will this change in conference and roster lead to for BYU in 2023?

Here are the best, worst, and most likely cases for BYU football this fall.

Best Case Scenario for BYU Football in 2023

There is a path to winning nine games for BYU this season. If BYU won nine games in their first year as a Big 12 team, throw a parade with Cosmo dancing the night away and free chocolate milk and mint brownies for all of Cougar Nation.

Nine wins is the best-case scenario, and for that to happen, quarterback Kedon Slovis needs to be brilliant. Maybe to the point where he’s one of the three best quarterbacks in the Big 12 this fall.

Also, to get to nine wins, BYU would need to go undefeated at home. That’s not unrealistic. Sam Houston and Southern Utah should be locks. Cincinnati is in a transition season in year one of the post-Luke Fickell era.

Texas Tech has a lot of preseason hype and buzz. Will they still be viewed in the same light at the midseason point?

Iowa State has experienced losses to key personnel due to the gambling investigation. Then Oklahoma rolls in for a Senior Night that could be one of the highest-priced tickets ever at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

A lot must break BYU’s way, but nine wins is the best case.

Reaching nine wins would probably mean BYU is ranked in the Top 25.

As rival Utah prepares to join the Big 12 in 2024, a nine-win season would benefit BYU. It could give BYU a pitch on the recruiting trail to in-state recruits that, like Utah has proven in the Pac-12, the Cougars are ready to compete at a high level in a power conference.

Worst Case Scenario

BYU finishing 4-8 would be the worst-case scenario. It sounds extreme, but the schedule doesn’t have many layups outside of the season’s first month.

Beyond the schedule, for BYU to finish with a four-win season, the Cougars likely experience another season with a long list of injuries.

The quarterback play from Kedon Slovis underperforms and Jay Hill’s aggressive defense lacks any push up front from the defensive line.

Plus, the adversity that plagued BYU’s locker room last season strikes again as the wheels come off to a lackluster debut in the Big 12.

The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel forecasted that Sitake is in danger of getting fired if he has a losing season this year. A 4-8 season would not result in Kalani Sitake being fired. I don’t see that happening at all. But, Sitake’s vocal detractors would be out in full force, and the temperature would ratchet up if BYU finished with a four-win campaign.

Most Likely Scenario for BYU football

BYU sneaks into a bowl game with six wins.

The talent on BYU’s roster this year is a significant upgrade from last year. The unknowns of how BYU will perform against ten Power Five teams have everyone wondering how this revamped roster will fare. But the options and depth are better. That should get BYU to a bowl game.

For year one in the Big 12, a spot in the Bowl Season would be a solid start.

BYU’s defense can only go up this season. Last year’s group struggled mightily. Jay Hill comes in and brings with him a staff that boasts Power Five experience across the board. The heart of the defense will be at linebacker as Ben Bywater, Max Tooley, and AJ Vongphachanh put BYU in a spot where they should be stout enough to contain the run in Big 12 play.

Shreveport for the holidays sounds much better as a Big 12 team instead of as an Independent.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X (Twitter) and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Football’s Best, Worst, Most Likely Scenarios For 2023 Season