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Even though BYU is on a bye week, it’s still a big weekend for the Cougars

The chance to scope future opponents — and see which teams prevail — will provide intrigue and insight

SHARE Even though BYU is on a bye week, it’s still a big weekend for the Cougars
Coach Kalani Sitake talks to his team during a game against Kansas on Sept. 23, 2023, in Lawrence, Kan.

BYU coach Kalani Sitake talks to his team during game against Kansas on Sept. 23, 2023, in Lawrence, Kan. The Cougars have a bye next but will be back in action on Oct. 14 when they face TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.

Charlie Riedel, Associated Press

No game on Saturday, but BYU will still have plenty to do.

BYU may have Saturday off from competition, but the Big 12 scoreboard that will shape the Cougars’ (4-1, 1-1) future will be busy — and isn’t it nice? This is the first bye weekend in Provo that has mattered in 13 years.


Cougars on the air

BYU (4-1)
at TCU (3-2)
Oct. 14, 1:30 MDT
Amon G. Carter Stadium
(Capacity: 50,000)
Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM

At the top of the list is the showdown in Dallas between No. 3 Texas (5-0, 2-0) and No. 12 Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0) Saturday at 10 a.m. on ABC. Not only are they the two teams responsible for BYU being in the Big 12, but they are also ahead on the Cougars’ schedule.

It was Texas and Oklahoma that triggered the wave of conference expansion that changed the landscape of college football. Their decision to bolt the Big 12 for the SEC not only allowed BYU to fill a conference vacancy, but it also initiated the beginning of the end of the Pac-12 after the Big Ten lured away USC and UCLA to bolster their position against the expanding SEC.

A win for the Longhorns, and head coach and former BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian, will keep Texas on course to grab the nation’s No. 1 ranking ahead of the Cougars’ visit to Austin on Oct. 28. Only No. 1 Georgia (5-0) and No. 2 Michigan (5-0) are in front of them and the Wolverines by just 12 points in the AP Top 25.

BYU is 1-2 against No. 1-ranked teams. The Cougars defeated Miami in 1990 but lost to Florida State in 1991 and to USC in 2004. They have never faced a team ranked No. 2 and the last time they faced a No. 3 was Oklahoma in 2009. The Cougars beat the Sooners 14-13 in Arlington at Cowboys Stadium — some 20 miles from the Cotton Bowl where Texas and Oklahoma play on Saturday.

The Sooners lost the Red River Showdown 49-0 last year. In addition to redemption, an upset would give them the inside track to winning the Big 12 and catapult the program into the top 10. If that happens, Oklahoma could bring all kinds of scenarios to Provo when they visit on Nov. 18.

For sophomore Chase Roberts, the Sooners-Longhorns battle will be a two-for-one scouting experience on his couch.

“When I watch a Big 12 opponent, I’m keyed in on the corners and the defensive scheme. I’m watching how they play in a big-time game and their tendencies and what they do,” Roberts told the “Y’s Guys” podcast. “I can’t watch it with someone else because I’m rewinding every play.”

Here are other Big 12 games this weekend the Cougars will be keeping an eye on.

Kansas State at Oklahoma State (Friday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN)

With back-to-back losses at home to South Alabama (33-7) and 34-27 at Iowa State, the Cowboys (2-2, 0-1) remain the most puzzling team in the Big 12. BYU will finish the regular season Nov. 25 in Stillwater in a game that, if healthy, the Cougars stand poised to steal over Thanksgiving weekend.

Texas Tech at Baylor (6 p.m., ESPN2)

BYU has reason to keep an eye on this game, too. The Red Raiders (2-3, 1-1) come to Provo on Oct. 21 without senior quarterback Tyler Shough, who broke his leg Sept. 23 against West Virginia. Once considered a contender prior to the season, Texas Tech has turned to sophomore quarterback Behren Morton to lead the way.

TCU at Iowa State (6 p.m., FS1)

Two future opponents will also tango in Ames, Iowa, when TCU (3-2, 1-1) meets Iowa State (2-3, 1-1). BYU will play the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas, following the bye week on Oct. 14 and will host the Cyclones on Nov. 11.

BYU (bye week)

A bye weekend after BYU’s 4-1 start will give the Cougars a needed rest before resuming a run that includes Big 12 games on seven straight Saturdays. But it won’t be a weekend off, not with so many chances to scout the challenges that lie ahead.


In this Oct. 10, 2020, file photo, The Red River Showdown logo is displayed on the field of the Cotton Bowl, prior to game between Texas and Oklahoma, in Dallas. Saturday marks the final time this storied rivalry game will be a Big 12 affair.

Michael Ainsworth, Associated Press

Dave McCann is a contributor to the Deseret News and is the studio host for “BYU Sports Nation Game Day,” “The Post Game Show,” “After Further Review,” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv. He is also co-host of “Y’s Guys” at ysguys.com.