On Wednesday, BYU announced stadium upgrades ahead of the 2021 BYU football season. With 215 days until BYU kicks off the 2021 season against Arizona, let's rank the best games on BYU's 2021 football schedule.
#12. vs Idaho State - Saturday Nov. 6
Ranking justification: Idaho State is the only FCS opponent on BYU's schedule. After nine very difficult games to start the season, BYU will finally get a little breather against Idaho State.
#11. @ Georgia Southern - Saturday Nov. 20
Ranking justification: BYU takes on Georgia Southern for the first time in program history. Given the lack of history between the two programs and Georgia Southern's status in college football, this game falls down towards the bottom of our list.
2020 Record: 8-5
Total Returning Production: 51% (#119)
Returning Production on Offense: 46% (#119)
Returning Production on Defense: 56% (#103)
Like BYU, Georgia Southern will be very inexperienced in 2021.
#10. vs USF - Saturday Sep. 25
Ranking justification: BYU will play their third-straight home game against USF on September 25th. The low ranking for this game says more about the rest of BYU's schedule than this game - BYU vs USF will be a fun matchup in September.
2020 Record: 1-8
Total Returning Production: 59% (#101)
Returning Production on Offense: 51% (#109)
Returning Production on Defense: 68% (#75)
USF went 1-8 in 2020. The Cougars can avenge their bad loss at USF in 2019.
#9. @ Utah State - Friday Oct. 1
Ranking justification: BYU will travel to Utah State to take on head coach Blake Anderson for the first time.
2020 Record: 1-5
Total Returning Production: 64% (#81)
Returning Production on Offense: 67% (#75)
Returning Production on Defense: 61% (#93)
The Aggies went 1-5 in 2020. The eye test of the 2020 Aggies was even worse than their record suggests - Utah State was downright awful last season. New head coach Blake Anderson will try to turn things around in Logan.
#8. @ Washington State - Saturday Oct. 23
Ranking justification: BYU will travel to Pullman to take on Washington State. A late October game against a P5 team comes in at number eight? The 2021 BYU football schedule is a fun one.
2020 Record: 1-3
Total Returning Production: 87% (#5)
Returning Production on Offense: 88% (#9)
Returning Production on Defense: 86% (#13)
Washington State returns a lot of production from a 2020 season where they went 1-3. Of note, Washington State picked up a quarterback transfer out of Tennessee in Jarett Guarantano. BYU beat Guarantano in an overtime thriller in 2019 when he played for Tennessee.
#7. vs Boise State - Saturday Oct. 9
Ranking justification: BYU will try to win their third-straight game against Boise State next season. Boise State will also feature a new head coach - former head coach Bryan Harsin was hired by Auburn. Andy Avalos is the new head coach at Boise State.
2020 Record: 5-2
Total Returning Production: 59% (#102)
Returning Production on Offense: 75% (#49)
Returning Production on Defense: 42% (#122)
Boise State ranks in the bottom third of college football in terms of returning production. In the past, returning production has been irrelevant for Boise State - they have found a way to win a lot of games every season. Can new head coach Andy Avalos continue the winning tradition in Boise?
#6. @ Baylor - Saturday Oct. 16
Ranking justification: BYU will travel to Baylor for their first of three-straight P5 games late in the season. BYU fans have wanted more meaningful games late in the season - that is exactly what the 2021 schedule will provide. The Cougars will face former BYU OC Jeff Grimes and former BYU OL coach Eric Mateos.
2020 Record: 2-7
Total Returning Production: 72% (#59)
Returning Production on Offense: 59% (#90)
Returning Production on Defense: 85% (#14)
New offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes will be forced to feature a lot of new faces on offense in his first year at Baylor - the Bears return only 59% of offensive production in 2021.
#5. vs Arizona State - Saturday Sep. 18
Ranking justification: In previous years, this game would probably be one of the top two or three games on the schedule. BYU will face a third PAC-12 South opponent in as many weeks when they host Arizona State on September 18th.
2020 Record: 2-2
Total Returning Production: 84% (#11)
Returning Production on Offense: 86% (#15)
Returning Production on Defense: 82% (#21)
It's difficult to draw too many conclusions about a team that only played four games last season. Like Utah, Arizon State returns a lot of production in 2021.
#4. vs Arizona - Saturday Sep. 4
Ranking justification: BYU will take on Arizona in the new Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders. The venue and date of this matchup put it towards the top of our list. Their is so much anticipation before the first game of every BYU football season, and this is a very fun game to look forward to this Summer. This will be the coaching debut for new Arizona coach Jedd Fisch.
2020 Record: 0-5
Total Returning Production: 76% (#46)
Returning Production on Offense: 75% (#54)
Returning Production on Defense: 77% (#40)
After nearly beating USC in their opener, Arizona stumbled to the finish line last season. Their season ended with a 70-7 blowout loss against rival Arizona State and the eventual firing of head coach Kevin Sumlin. In the case of Arizona, I'm not sure how much returning production will help their cause - they return 76% of the production from a very bad 2020 team.
#3. @ USC - Saturday Nov. 27
Ranking justification: A regular season finale in the Coliseum? Yes, you read that right. BYU will travel to USC to take on the Trojans. The last time these two teams met, BYU beat USC in an overtime thriller.
2020 Record: 5-1
Total Returning Production: 69% (#67)
Returning Production on Offense: 69% (#69)
Returning Production on Defense: 69% (#73)
PAC-12 South champions USC returns less production in 2021 than most of their PAC-12 counterparts. Regardless, USC will probably be the most talented team BYU faces next season.
#2. vs Virginia - Saturday Oct. 30
Ranking justification: Bronco Mendenhall returns to Lavell Edwards Stadium to take on his former team. The history between BYU and Mendenhall makes this game one of the most intriguing of the 2021 season.
2020 Record: 5-5
Total Returning Production: 66% (#77)
Returning Production on Offense: 72% (#63)
Returning Production on Defense: 61% (#95)
Bronco Mendenhall's trajectory at Virginia took a slight hit in 2020 when he went 5-5. Mendenhall will try to return to bowl eligibility this season.
#1. vs Utah - Saturday Sep. 11
Ranking justification: BYU hosts rival Utah at home where they will have another chance to end the streak. This could be the first time Lavell Edwards Stadium will be at full capacity since 2019.
2020 Record: 3-2
Total Returning Production: 86% (#8)
Returning Production on Offense: 81% (#34)
Returning Production on Defense: 91% (#5)
Utah returns a lot of production in 2021. After losing their first two games of the 2020 season, the Utes turned things around and finished 3-2. Their defense, which has become the staple under Kyle Whittingham, should be very good in 2021.
You probably noticed that our site looks a little different. It is currently under construction and the commenting capability is turned off. While we work on some exciting updates to improve your experience, you can ask us questions through one of our social media channels:
Facebook - @BYUSportsIllustrated
Instagram - @BYU_SI