BYU Football: Best Case Scenario for BYU in 2014


Since becoming an independent, it’s tough at times to measure success or growth for the BYU Football program.

Just trying to determine what would be a successful or “good” season is no fun. What if it all came together for BYU? What would be the best-case scenario for this 2014 BYU Football team?

This Friday against UConn is a big game for BYU. In large part due to how the Cougars played against Virginia last year. Will the Cougars stub their toe out of the gates again against an inferior opponent? In this best-case scenario that I’m putting together, that answer would be an emphatic no. Ideally, BYU goes to East Hartford and has their best opening game performance outside of Provo in the Bronco Mendenhall era.

With the game being a weeknight nationally televised game in the opening week of the season, the nation starts buzzing about BYU. The Cougars are then heading into Austin as a team knocking on the door of the top 25 polls.

The Texas Longhorns and first-year head coach, Charlie Strong, have been zeroing in on BYU all off-season. The Horns have been hell bent on redeeming themselves after that embarrassing loss in Provo that ultimately broke the career of legendary head coach, Mack Brown.

Texas comes out of the gate pressing too hard against BYU, and the Cougars capitalize with an offensive attack that the Longhorns didn’t see coming. Taysom Hill and BYU win in Austin through the air, and it conjured up memories of BYU Football of old.

BYU finally has that national attention they’ve coveted since becoming an independent. The path is now in front of them to have that magical season.

After the win over Texas, BYU jumps into the top 20 of the polls going into a made-for-TV Thursday night tilt against John O’Korn and Houston in BYU’s home opener.

Houston becomes a tough game after the quick turnaround from the Texas game, but the Cougars in blue pull away and go to 3-0 for the first time since 2008.

Sep 7, 2013; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars coach Bronco Mendenall before the game against the Texas Longhorns at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Then one week later, BYU hosts Virginia in a game that the Cougars set their sights on as a revenge game to redeem themselves from that embarrassing loss to the Hoos in 2013.

BYU destroys UVA, and then Mendenhall in the post-game media session makes a jab at ACC Commissioner, John Swofford, about the power five scheduling rule from this past summer. If I had to guess, Mendenhall’s comments would go something like this, “there are people around the country that want to think that because we are a faith-based institution we can’t compete with the best programs in the country. As evidenced today, that’s not the case. Most of those programs and commissioners sound like fear-based institutions, which is something that I would be ashamed of as I continue to build a program that represents the values of this school, our religion, families, etc..”

A much needed bye week comes BYU’s way after opening September 4-0. Surprisingly, no major injuries have taken place thus far.

The Battle for the Old Wagon Wheel is up next with BYU destroying Utah State. Chuckie Keeton has a nice game for the Aggies, but USU has little to no experience at basically every other position. Oddly enough, USU fans still attempt to rush the Lavell Edwards Stadium field despite losing by three-plus touchdowns.

Central Florida has always been a game that many were nervous about going into the season. The Knights fail to get consistent quarterback play with Blake Bortles and his lovely girlfriend, Lindsey Duke (she’s worth all the Google’s), now in Jacksonville with the Jaguars. BYU gets a nice win on another weeknight ESPN game. It wasn’t BYU’s prettiest effort, but the Cougars did enough to put themselves in striking distance of the top-10 in the polls.

Nevada attempts to cancel their game with BYU the week prior to avoid the beat down but can’t get out of it. BYU rolls to 7-0 for the first time in the Mendenhall era, and the first time since 2001.

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In 2013, BYU finally got the monkey off their back that was Boise State. But the Cougars have yet to win on the blue turf. The Cougars have had two heartbreaking losses in Boise over the past 10 years, is the third time the charm this go-around?

This is BYU’s last game to make some noise nationally before the manageable November slate. Boise State caught the nation off guard in week one beating nationally ranked Ole Miss in Atlanta. The Broncos, like BYU, are undefeated heading into this budding regional rivalry

There is always one game every year where you have to pull off some late-game heroics to win a ball game en route to a special season. This is that game. BYU’s offense was stagnant, but the Cougar defense came to play forcing a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown late in the fourth-quarter to give BYU the lead, and ultimately the win.

After the win, the story line around BYU Football then becomes, does BYU deserve to be in the College Football Playoff?

The day after the Boise win on College Gameday, Paul Finebaum says BYU has no business being in the discussion of the Playoff. Finebaum goes on to say, BYU would be 2-6 in the SEC right now. Kirk Herbstreit is impressed with Taysom Hill and the “toughness” of BYU. Herbie gives the Cougs his vote of approval.

The following Monday, the first-ever College Football Playoff poll is released and BYU checked in at #7. The Cougars were in striking distance of cracking the final four as there were few undefeated teams remaining.

Heading into the November portion of the schedule, BYU crushes Middle Tennessee, UNLV, and Savannah State. The Cougars move up to #5 in the College Football Playoff heading into the season-finale in Berkeley with a game against 5-6 Cal who’s battling for a bowl bid.

In a hard-fought game with more BYU fans in attendance than Cal fans, BYU gets the win to complete their first undefeated regular-season since 1984. BYU had done their job to make a case to get into the College Football Playoff.

Jan 6, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; General view of the Rose Bowl facade and the San Gabriel Mountains before the 2014 BCS National Championship game between the Auburn Tigers and the Florida State Seminoles. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The final College Football Playoff poll gives BYU the 4th spot in the inaugural Playoff! The committee went with BYU because everyone else in the country had at least one-loss, many had two, and three of BYU’s opponents went on to win their leagues (Houston, Boise State, and Texas shockingly).

The Cougars get paired with #1 Alabama in the iconic Rose Bowl for one of the national semifinal games.

BYU is a huge underdog against the Tide, but the Cougars keep it competitive for three quarters until the Cougars give way to the process of Nick Saban and Bama in the fourth quarter. BYU falls to Alabama, but the nation, particularly folks from SEC country become impressed with the way BYU played.

The aftermath from BYU’s performance in the National Semifinal against Bama leads to BYU getting an exception from the SEC and ACC for a power-five scheduling exception, and then BYU capitalizes on all of that money generated from the College Football Playoff to upgrade of many of the facilities around campus.

Bronco and his staff close strong on the recruiting trail, playing off the entire national buzz the program was receiving to bring in the highest rated class since 2010.

Taysom Hill, Jamaal Williams, and Bronson Kaufusi, decide to return for their senior seasons in 2015 to lead BYU back to the playoff.

In this best-case scenario for BYU Football in 2014, the Cougars etch their name amongst the elite of college football.