SALT LAKE CITY — The Associated Press Top 25 preseason college football poll was released on Monday, and with it came a clearer picture of the challenges in-state teams will face as they go through the 2019 season.
Of course once the season starts, rankings will change at least some from week to week, but as it stands now, the 14th-ranked Utah Utes and BYU Cougars will play two games apiece against ranked opponents, and the Utah State Aggies will play one.
The Utes and Cougars will also play three games each against other teams that received at least one vote in Monday’s poll, while the Aggies will play two.
Here’s a look at the five games in-state teams will play against ranked opponents.
One of the talking points surrounding the idea that the Utes will make major national noise this season is that they have a relatively easy schedule.
It’s true that of the other four ranked Pac-12 teams, Utah will play just two of them, the 13th-ranked Washington Huskies and the 23rd-ranked Washington State Cougars. First up will be the game against the Cougars on Sept. 28 in Salt Lake City, and the Utes will play the Huskies on Nov. 2 in Seattle.
The three opponents Utah will play who received at least one vote in Monday’s poll are the USC Trojans, the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Arizona Wildcats. The Utes will face the Trojans on Sept. 20 in Los Angeles, the Sun Devils Oct. 19 in Salt Lake City and the Wildcats Nov. 23 in Tucson.
Opposite the Utes, many have commented about how daunting the Cougars’ schedule will be in 2019, especially the beginning. It’s true that BYU’s first four games will all be against Power 5 opponents, but only two of those teams will enter the season ranked, and both contests will be at home for the Cougars.
BYU will open the season Aug. 29 at LaVell Edwards Stadium against the rival Utah Utes, and will also play the Washington Huskies on Sept. 21.
As far as contests against teams in the “receiving votes” portion of the poll are concerned, the Cougars will play two home games and one away contest. In Provo, they’ll face the USC Trojans on Sept. 14 and the Boise State Broncos on Oct. 19. They’ll travel a few hours north to play the Utah State Aggies on Nov. 2 in Logan.
Utah State Aggies
The 2019 season is primed to be an interesting one for the Aggies. The program has momentum after a great 2018 campaign and Jordan Love is an outstanding quarterback. That being said, there was a coaching change, as Gary Andersen took over, and there will be a ton of new faces on the squad.
Andersen is expected to lead the program into becoming a consistent contender for the Mountain West Conference championship, and the group will have a huge test pretty early when it travels to play the sixth-ranked LSU Tigers on Oct. 5. As far as the preseason AP poll is concerned, the Tigers are the highest-ranked team any squad from the Beehive State is scheduled to play this season.
Utah State will also play two teams in November that received votes in the initial AP poll. It’ll face the Fresno State Bulldogs on Nov. 9 and the Boise State Broncos on Nov. 23. Both games will be on the road.