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College Football: No. 42 Brigham Young Cougars

It's Last Season of "Independence" Before Big 12 Initiation

The 2022 season is the final one as an independent for Brigham Young before the Cougars join the Big 12 in 2023. That will be the first time BYU has played in a conference since being in the Mountain West (1999-2010).

It was recently reported that BYU will have a nine-game conference schedule in the Big 12. There will be a chance to keep some of the familiar opponents on the schedule.

College Football: No. 42 Brigham Young Cougars

There is plenty of experience on both sides of the ball, including most of the starting defense and, other than star running back Tyler Allgeier, bulk of a very productive offense also returns.

The schedule is challenging once again, the likes of Utah State, Arkansas and Notre Dame on consecutive weeks. BYU could easily be listed by the college football odds as the underdog in each of those contests.

BYU lost some players via transfer, but most had yet to earn significant time on the field. Having former Oregon offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia is a huge get for the Cougars.

BYU has played in bowl games in 16 of the last 17 seasons, and another bowl game should be in the cards for the Cougars in 2022.

According to the college football picks, BYU is listed at +35000 in the odds to win the national title. There are three teams (Notre Dame, Arkansas and Stanford) on the schedule with lower title odds.

The expected regular-season win total is at 8½ for BYU with the odds priced at -140 for the Cougars under that.

Brigham Young Cougars

  • 2021 record: 10-3
  • 2021 conference record: N?A
  • Head coach: Kalani Sitake

Perhaps not be a team returning more contributors on the defensive side of the ball than the Cougars.

There’s Ben Bywater, who led BYU with 102 tackles, joined by fellow linebackers Max Tooley, Payton Wilgar and Chaz Ah You, along with defensive linemen Tyler Batty, Pepe Tanuvasa as well as defensive backs D’Angelo Mandell, Ammon Hannemann and Malik Moore. It’s the top nine tacklers returning this season,

It is hopes that the experience translates into more impact plays for the Cougars, who had just 20 sacks in 13 games last season. BYU did intercept 15 passes, however. Moore and Jakor Robinson, who tied for the team lead with three interceptions each, return. Wilgar and Hayden Livingston each had two interceptions.

Quarterback Jaren Hall returns after throwing for 2,583 yards, with 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions in 10 games in 2021. He’s also the top returning rusher (307 yards) after Tyler Allgeier went to the Atlanta Falcons

Top two receivers also return. Puka Nacua had 43 catches for 805 yards (six touchdowns), while Gunner Romney added 594 yards on 34 receptions. Keanu Hill, tight ends Dallin Holker and Isaac Rex as well as fullback/tight end Masen Wake are other returnees who had at least 10 catches last season.

Campbell Barrington, Blake Freeland, Brayden Keim, Connor Pay and Joe Tukuafu all back on the offensive line.

Also, the biggest transfer (in more ways than one) is former Oregon offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia, as the 6-foot-6, 317-pound Utah native was the sixth-rated transfer in the country by the database.

Christopher Brooks, who led Cal with 607 rushing yards in 2021-that was after 914 yards in 2019-could line up in the backfield with former Stanford fullback Houston Heimuli.

Cornerback Gabe Jeudy-Lally comes from Vanderbilt after recording 64 tackles and intercepting two passes over the pass two seasons.

BYU only covered in five of its last seven. With so many quality returnees, the Cougars could provide better results for those who bet online.

2022 Outlook

BYU will certainly miss 1,600-yard rusher Tyler Allgeier. However, most of the other keys from a team that finished 17th in total offense a season ago are back in Provo.

However, the bigger issue is on the other side of the ball. BYU surrendered nearly 400 yards per game last season, more than 30 points in four of the last seven. Just about all of the top defensive players also return.

It doesn’t hurt that Ryan Rehkow is back after averaging 48.6 yards per punt. Punt returner Hobbs Nyberg is another special teams player to watch.

It was a pretty special 2021 season, wins over nationally-ranked in-state foes Utah and Utah State teams. There were also victories against Virginia and Southern California. There’s no reason to believe more success won’t be coming for the Cougars this season.

BYU opens on the road as a 12½-point favorite against South Florida, according to the Las Vegas odds. The degree of difficulty increases with games against Baylor and Oregon. Notre Dame and Arkansas are on the schedule in October. There will be some challenges awaiting a very experienced BYU team. There’s no bye week until November. That isn’t ideal, and won’t (hopefully) be an issue.

2022 Schedule

  • Sept. 3 vs South Florida
  • Sept. 10 vs Baylor
  • Sept. 17 at Oregon
  • Sept. 24 vs Wyoming
  • Sept. 29 vs Utah State
  • Oct. 8 vs Notre Dame (at Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas)
  • Oct. 15 vs Arkansas
  • Oct. 22 At Liberty
  • Oct. 28 vs East Carolina
  • Nov. 5 at Boise State
  • Nov. 19 vs Utah Tech
  • Nov. 26 at Stanford

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