Spring ball is nearly wrapped up for college football teams around the country — and for some, like BYU, it’s already over.

That means it’s time to start talking about the fall and the 2023 season — because, well, what else are we going to fill our time with?

On Tuesday, ESPN released the first version of its Football Power Index rankings for the 2023 season, giving fans another thing to banter about in the coming months.

ESPN describes the FPI as “a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is.”

There are some interesting things to note for the state of Utah’s three FBS teams — BYU, Utah and Utah State — in this first version of the FPI rankings, which will be updated periodically during the offseason and again throughout the 2023 season.

Quarterback Kedon Slovis calls the signals at the line as BYU practices in Provo on Friday, March 17, 2023.
Quarterback Kedon Slovis calls the signals at the line as BYU practices in Provo on Friday, March 17, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

What does ESPN’s FPI predict for the BYU Cougars?

  • BYU is ranked 13th out of 14 Big 12 teams in the power index at No. 60, ahead of only Kansas, which comes in at No. 68.
  • The model predicts 4.9 wins for the Cougars in their first season as a Big 12 Conference member.
  • The FPI calculates a 32.9% chance for BYU to reach six wins and bowl eligibility — the last time the Cougars weren’t bowl eligible was in 2017, when the program went 4-9 in Kalani Sitake’s second season as head coach.
  • According to the FPI, BYU has the third-toughest strength of schedule at No. 28 nationally, behind only Texas (12) and West Virginia (26).

What games does ESPN’s FPI predict BYU will win?

  • BYU is an overwhelming favorite to win its opening two games at home in 2023 against Sam Houston (94.2%) and Southern Utah (97.5%), then an overwhelming underdog in the Cougars’ final nonconference game at Arkansas (20.3%).
  • In Big 12 play, BYU is only favored once — in its league home opener against Cincinnati (52.4%), another first-year Big 12 program.
  • The Cougars are slight underdogs in conference play at Kansas (48.5%) — in BYU’s first league game as a Big 12 member — and late in the season at home against Iowa State (46.4%).
  • Outside of that, though, BYU is heavy underdogs in all its other Big 12 games, at TCU (16.3%), vs. Texas Tech (32.5%), at Texas (5%), at West Virginia (36.7%), vs. Oklahoma (18.2%) and at Oklahoma State (24%).
Utah players go through drills during practice on Tuesday, April 18, 2023. | Hunter Dyke, Utah Athletics

What does ESPN’s FPI predict for the Utah Utes?

  • Utah is ranked third out of 12 Pac-12 teams in the power index at No. 15 nationally, behind only USC (7) and Oregon (13). Washington (21) and Oregon State (24) are also in the top 25.
  • The model predicts 8.7 wins for the Utes, the two-time defending Pac-12 champions.
  • The FPI calculates a 98.2% chance Utah will win at least six games, a 17% chance to repeat as conference champions, a 3.9% chance of making the College Football Playoff, a 1% chance of making the national championship game and a 0.2% chance of winning the program’s first national championship.
  • According to the FPI, Utah has the toughest strength of schedule in the Pac-12 at No. 30 nationally, ahead of Colorado (37) and California (40).

What games does ESPN’s FPI predict Utah will win?

  • The Utes are heavy favorites in their two nonconference home games against Florida (70.3%) — the season opener — and Weber State (97.2%) and a slight favorite on the road at Baylor (54.2%).
  • Utah is only the underdog once all season — at USC (29.1%), a team the Utes beat twice last season, including in the Pac-12 championship game.
  • Utah is heavy favorites to beat these teams in conference play: vs. UCLA (80.4%), vs. California (87.4%), vs. Arizona State (91.2%), at Arizona (79.8%) and vs. Colorado (95.7%).
  • The Utes are also slight favorites to win at Oregon State (53.2%), vs. Oregon (60.6%) and at Washington (52.1%).
Utah State quarterback Cooper Legas (5) runs with the ball during the second half of the First Responder Bowl NCAA college football game against Memphis, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, in Dallas. | Sam Hodde, Associated Press

What does ESPN’s FPI predict for the Utah State Aggies?

  • Utah State is ranked eighth out of 12 Mountain West teams in the power index at No. 113 nationally, just ahead of Hawaii (116) and Nevada (117).
  • The model predicted 5.3 wins for the Aggies one year after USU won six games.
  • The FPI calculates a 42.8% chance Utah State reaches six wins, and a 1.6% chance the Aggies win the Mountain West championship.
  • According to the FPI, Utah State has the third-easiest strength of schedule in the MW at No. 118 nationally, ahead of only Colorado State (128) and Air Force (131). 

What games does ESPN’s FPI predict Utah State will win?

  • Utah State is a heavy underdog in its season opener at Iowa (7.2%).
  • The Aggies are favored in two of their other nonconference games vs. Idaho State (92.7%) and vs. James Madison (52.7%) and a slight underdog at UConn (40.8%).
  • In Mountain West play, the Aggies are favored in three games — vs. Colorado State (64.5%), vs. Nevada (61.4%) and at New Mexico (55%).
  • Utah State is an underdog in its other conference games, including at Air Force (27.3%), vs. Fresno State (37.1%), at San Jose State (34.4%), at San Diego State (27.8%) and vs. Boise State (25.5%).