BYU Football only fell out of the rankings for one week before re-entering in this week’s poll.
As a preface for this article, I need to make something very clear about the state of BYU Football. The New Year’s Six Bowl dream is all about dead. The amount of chaos that would have to happen for BYU to even be considered part of that conversation is so crazy that even entertaining the idea is not worth discussing.
But high can the Cougars climb?
Obviously answering this question is impossible to some degree. If the teams ahead of the Cougars continue to win, regardless of how good BYU plays they won’t rise much higher than they currently are.
However, there are still plenty of ranked matchups that will be played. Just this week for example, there are three matchups, with two of them very likely affecting BYU’s ranking should the Cougars beat the Virginia Cavaliers.
Just looking at the teams ahead of the Cougars, here is a breakdown of what obstacles they still have in front of them.
No. 24 Coastal Carolina – If BYU beats Virginia, they will jump the Chanticleers. CCU has zero control of ranking themselves over a winning BYU squad.
No. 23 UTSA – This one is a bit tricky. The Roadrunners are undefeated and starting to get recognition. They are on a bye week this week, so if BYU is to jump them, it has to be this week. Otherwise UTSA may have to lose a game.
No. 22 Iowa State – The Cyclones have not yet faced the toughest stretch of their schedule with Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia on the road still coming up.
No. 21 San Diego State – The Aztec’s are highly underrated. They have a relatively clear path to an undefeated season as well.
No. 20 Penn State – The Nitty Lions face a hot Ohio State team this weekend. A likely loss drops them out of the Top 25.
No. 19 SMU – SMU likely can afford a loss to Cincinnati and be ranked higher than BYU. Any other loss though would drop them quite a few spots.
No. 18 Auburn – Auburn very likely would be the first three loss team to be ranked ahead of BYU even with another loss. The bad news for the War Eagles however is that they still have three ranked opponents to play.
No. 17 Pittsburg – Pitt has a clear path ahead of them with their toughest remaining game being Virginia. Barring an unexpected loss, Pitt will finish ranked ahead of BYU even with another loss, unless of course it happens this week against Duke.
No. 16 Baylor – No. 1 Georgia – All of these teams are now in the two loss zone where it would take at least two losses to get ranked below BYU. While certainly one or two of the schools may end up with two more losses, the likelihood of each individual school having two more losses at this point is too slim to predict.
With all of that data, my personal prediction is that the Cougars could rise and finish somewhere in the 16-18 ranking should they run the table from this point on. Of course this is going off of what the AP poll says, as nobody has any idea how the College Football Committee will view the Cougars.
Finishing with a top 20 ranking would truly be something special for BYU Football, especially when in the preseason nobody believed the Cougars to be a Top 30 team. Throw on the fact that they are clearly the best team in the state, headed towards the Big 12 in two seasons, and that they will return essentially the entire team next year and it is very possible that just two months from now we are looking back at one of BYU’s all time greatest seasons.