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Where will BYU, Utah and Utah State football stack up in the country this season?

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham and Utah State head coach Blake Anderson.
Composite photo

FBS teams from the state of Utah ran the gamut during the weird 2020 season in terms of success, as the BYU Cougars finished No. 16 in the College Football Playoff rankings (No. 11 in The Associated Press poll), the Utah Utes were up and down and the Utah State Aggies were a complete disaster on and off the field.

Looking forward to the fall season, of course hope springs eternal for every program in the country, but what might be realistic expectations for the three in-state squads?

On Tuesday, ESPN released its first College Football Power Index for 2021. As explained by ESPN, the metric “is 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. Projected results are based on 20,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date and the remaining schedule.”

FPI projects that the Utes will finish as the best team in the state, and 57th overall among 130 programs in the nation. The Cougars are not far behind at 60, while the Aggies are all the way down at 120.

The Alabama Crimson Tide tops the list, and the New Mexico State Aggies are at the bottom.

Of particular significance:

  • The model roughly suggests that Utah and BYU will both finish with 7-5 records and that Utah State will go 5-7. It gives the Cougars a 0.1% chance of going undefeated and the other two teams no chance.
  • On a brighter note, it gives the Cougars an 88.2% chance of winning six games and becoming bowl eligible and the Utes an 81.6% chance. It gives the Aggies a 27.9% chance.
  • It gives Utah an 8.5% chance of winning its division within the Pac-12 Conference and a 2.8% chance of winning the conference. It gives Utah State a 2.1% chance of winning its division within the Mountain West Conference and an 0.3% chance of winning the conference (BYU, of course, does not belong to a conference in football).
  • The most important items of all listed, the FPI gives the three teams no chance of making the College Football Playoff, and thus no chance of making the national championship game or winning the title.
  • Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson and Ohio State have the highest odds of making the CFP, with the first two having the highest odds of making the championship game and Alabama the highest odds of winning it all.