Despite what some may have considered to be a disappointing showing for the BYU football team in a 27-20 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners at home, the national hype surrounding the Cougars hasn’t dimmed as BYU moved up to 13th and 14th in the Coaches Poll and the AP Top 25, respectively. Last week, BYU was ranked 15th in both major national polls.
Diving into some of the other analytical rankings paints an even rosier picture for the Cougars. Jeff Sagarin’s college football index ranks BYU 10th overall, and 9th when using just the Predictor metric — which is based solely on margin of victory. Sagarin does give BYU one of the lowest scores in all of college football when it comes to strength of schedule — the Cougars rank 63rd. However, fellow independent Notre Dame is one of the few teams with a weaker strength of schedule than BYU — the schedule for the Fighting Irish is ranked 66th and they are ranked 16th overall by Sagarin.
So far, the Sagarin ratings for BYU’s opponents are as follows — Troy (69th), UTSA (106th), Louisiana Tech (115th), and Navy (118th). Houston (43rd) will be BYU’s toughest opponent by far according to Sagarin.
Sagarin is heavily weighted toward the final scores of games and point differential, so it may not perfectly represent BYU’s position given that the Cougars have, for the most part, demolished their vastly inferior foes. Still, it is telling that the metric considers BYU to be a top ten team, ahead of teams like Tennessee, Florida and Miami.
Sagarin Rankings: computer poll formula the BCS used
#2 Ohio St
#4 Ok St
#7 Penn St
#25 Iowa pic.twitter.com/FnaM6CkbxJ
— CFB Home (@CFBHome) October 13, 2020
Football Outsiders’ FEI Ratings measure each team’s scoring advantage against an average team on a per-possession basis. Through Week 6 of the college football season, FEI gives BYU a .56 rating overall, which ranks them 18th. Offensively, though, BYU is ranked 12th with an OFEI rating of .79. BYU’s offense also ranks 3rd in points per drive and 2nd in yards per play.
The FEI Ratings include teams in the Pac-12 and Big Ten who haven’t begun their seasons yet. This likely both helps and hurts BYU. Currently, BYU stands out against a smaller field of major college football teams in action thus far, but it is also likely that teams currently ranked above BYU — like Penn State (7th) and Utah (12th) — could fall when their FEI is based on actual games played instead of preseason projections.
According to Bill Connelly’s SP+ rating, BYU is the 21st ranked team with a 12.8 rating. BYU’s strength of schedule is still considered to be fairly weak according to SP+, Houston is rated 45th and the next highest ranked opponent is Troy at 68th. SP+ doesn’t view BYU’s offense as highly as the FEI Ratings do, although the Cougars still rank 20th offensively. According to SP+, BYU’s weakest opponent so far is UTSA, who is ranked 108th.
ESPN’s Football Power Index ranks BYU 21st, just behind Utah at 20. They give the Cougars a 22.8% chance of going undefeated, and a 5.1% chance to make this year’s College Football Playoff — by far the highest chance for any team not in a Power Five conference or Notre Dame.
— ESPN 960 (@espn960sports) September 27, 2019
Massey Ratings was the only metric that punished the Cougars following their seven-point victory over UTSA. BYU dropped six spots this week and is ranked 27th. Massey does seem to be prone to big swings week-to-week, though, so BYU can hope to jump back into their top 20 with a victory against Houston. Football Power Index gives BYU a 52.3% chance of beating Houston on Friday.
BYU has yet to face any legitimate challenger from the top ranks of college football. In spite of their schedule, the Cougars are ranked 10th, 13th, 14th, 18th, 21st, and 27th — their strong representation across these ratings prove that the Cougars are deserving of their ranking and there is no question that they are at least one of the top 20 teams in the country.
Written by Bridger Beal-Cvetko
Bridger is a student at Utah Valley University where he studies journalism and mass communication. He is the sports editor of the on-campus newspaper, The Review. Bridger is a life-long Cougar fan and college football enthusiast.