While this game will not be the biggest game of the season, the importance of beating Washington State for BYU Football can’t be understated.
BYU Football started off the season 5-0 and was ranked No. 10 in the nation. Although that was less than three weeks ago, that reality feels like a decade ago given what has happened the last two weeks. As the Cougars have gone from a NY6 crasher to now an unranked team, the Cougars find themselves at a crossroads of being someone…or not.
If the Cougars drop a third game in a row, not only will the Cougars likely drop any chance of being ranked at any point this season, but almost all of the momentum that the Cougars will have gained this season will be lost. Nothing will diminish beating Utah and the effects that the win will have on recruiting and overall momentum for the BYU program, but besides that, a loss against Washington State would kill any credit BYU had gained this season.
Being ranked of course isn’t everything, however it is a big goal that BYU can still very much achieve, but they have to win this game.
If BYU beats Washington State, they likely end up being ranked again, as they would surely jump Arkansas, the loser of Pitt vs Clemson and then likely another team in the Top 25 that will lose. From that point, even with a loss to Virginia, BYU likely remains in the “Receiving Votes” category and can get back into the rankings by finishing 4-0. Losing to Washington State would end any possibility of this, even with a 5-0 finish.
The Importance of a Strong Finish
BYU Football now has a future with the Big 12. They are no longer dependent essentially on the year to year success that Independence has forced them to be in. While Independent, a bad season hit the Cougars harder than most any other team in the same situation. Being alone without a conference to pay support money was down. This meant less money to upgrade facilities which effected recruiting and training.
In other words, year to year success is essential. With the Big 12 in the near future, the need to excel is less important as Big 12 money will soon start to come in to help in the case of a bad season. BYU will be able to afford a bad season or two and be in just as good of a situation as they currently are with a good season. Just some examples of this include how all Big 12 members receive money for every team that goes to a bowl game or plays in the NCAA Tournament in basketball.
Considering that however, it does sort of feel like BYU is carrying a lot of weight in the relevancy of the future Big 12. The reality is UCF is sort of down. Houston is hit and miss and the future of Cincinnati is unknown with a complete overhaul of players and staff potentially coming up. BYU is the most solid and consistent program out of the new members that can help solidify the Big 12 as a still legitimate conference once Oklahoma and Texas leave.
With the whole landscape changing in college football with now the AAC and Sun Belt expanding, the Big 12 needs to look strong, and in a weird way that starts with BYU taking down Washington State this weekend.