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Schedule and Odds
BYU had an impressive 2015, even after losing its bowl game to Utah. The Cougars came back for some big wins (Nebraska, Boise State), but also struggled against some weaker teams (San Jose State, Missouri). With new head coach Kalani Sitake in charge, they'll look to find some more consistency, especially on the defensive end, Sitake's specialty coming from Oregon State and Utah. On the offensive side former QB Ty Detmer takes over as coordinator.
Conveniently for Detmer, he'll have two quarterbacks with starting experience to work with. While deciding his first option will be tough, the word from spring is that BYU will try and run the ball a little more behind Jamaal Williams, who is finally healthy, and last year's starter Algernon Brown (709 yards, 11 TDs). Quarterback Tanner Mangum (59.9% completion, 23 TDs, 10 INTs) was a great playmaker at times, but also struggled mightily in losses. Taysom Hill brings some of that playmaking, especially with his legs, so either one should work out fine.
Receiver is the bigger unknown with last year's top options gone. Nick Kurtz (578 yards, 3 TDs) will take over the No. 1 role with Mitchell Juergens (471 yards, 2 TDs) and Moroni Laulu-Pututau expected to step up. The offensive line has its questions, but there are enough returning starters that the group shouldn't see a major step back.
BYU's defense wasn't bad last year, but under new coach Sitake and coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki, they'll be moving to a 4-3 scheme. In a new scheme, there are always questions if they have the right players for the positions, but after the spring there were co-starters listed at every spot along the line. So according to that, there's at least some depth.
Linebacker is set with experienced guys in Fred Warner and Harvey Langi, and former running back Francis Bernard is hoping to make a smooth transition to the OLB role. The secondary is mostly set as well with seniors at every spot outside of one of the cornerback positions.
Sitake is a BYU man and he brought in BYU coaches to surround him. To be considered a success in his first season, the Cougars would need to match last year's nine wins, but a more difficult schedule could be a problem. BYU's over/under at 5Dimes is sitting at 7 wins with the over at -195 in early June.
The Cougars play Arizona in a neutral-site game to open the season (although basically a road contest in Glendale), travel to Utah and then it doesn't get any easier. UCLA and West Virginia are up next with three true road games remaining against Michigan State, Boise State and Cincinnati. To get to those seven wins, they'll need to upset one of those teams and that's if they beat both Toledo and Mississippi State at home.
BYU has some experience and the quarterbacks to lead to some success this season, but a difficult schedule could see them struggle to get to eight wins or even seven.
2016 BYU Cougars Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. Arizona (Univ. of Phoenix Stadium)
Sept. 10 at Utah
Sept. 17 vs. UCLA
Sept. 24 vs. West Virginia (FedEx Field)
Sept. 30 vs. Toledo
Oct. 8 at Michigan State
Oct. 14 vs. Mississippi State
Oct. 20 at Boise State
Nov. 5 at Cincinnati
Nov. 12 vs. Southern Utah
Nov. 19 vs. Massachusetts
Nov. 26 vs. Utah State
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