Call up the travel agent, book those flights and fill out the vacation requests — it’s time to plan for football season, even if it’s a few months away.

On Wednesday, the NFL released its 2024 schedule.

For college football fans of the three FBS schools in Utah, there are several options to take a road trip this fall and catch a college and NFL game during the same weekend.

Some road trips, though, are admittedly better than others.

Here’s a look at my favorites.

Best BYU road trip

  • Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs — Thursday, Sept. 5.
  • BYU at SMU — Friday, Sept. 6.

Yes, the two games aren’t in the same state, but it would be tempting to jump on a short hour-and-a-half flight in between the two and enjoy a weekend of football and BBQ.

Plus, it’s Labor Day weekend, so you can turn it into an extended getaway.

The Ravens-Chiefs game kicks off the 2024 NFL season and features a rematch of last year’s AFC championship. There are also BYU connections on both sides: Kyle Van Noy with the Ravens, and Andy Reid and Kingsley Suamataia (maybe even Ryan Rehkow) with the Chiefs.

This particular game could be Suamataia’s first NFL start, against another Super Bowl contender, while Reid is pursuing his fourth Super Bowl championship with Kansas City after the Chiefs won the past two.

For the Cougars, the trip to Dallas will be their fifth-ever matchup against an SMU program that was BYU’s opponent in the famed Miracle Bowl.

The Mustangs are also playing their first season in the ACC, making this a matchup of two power conference programs.

Back to the BBQ, though: Wouldn’t that be amazing to have the chance to compare what two regions synonymous with excellent BBQ bring to the table?

A few other interesting BYU options

  • BYU at Wyoming — Saturday, Sept. 14.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos — Sunday, Sept. 15.

The Cougars are making their first trip to Wyoming since 2009 to face a longstanding former conference rival. And while it’s unlikely, there’s the possibility Zach Wilson could play for Denver against Pittsburgh. Even if he doesn’t, there’s a lot of intrigue surrounding the QB situations in Pittsburgh and Denver.

  • BYU at Baylor — Saturday, Sept. 28.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans — Sunday, Sept. 29.

Unless Max Tooley makes the 53-man roster, this NFL game won’t feature any BYU ties. The Cougars, though, are playing their first game as a Big 12 member in Waco after splitting a pair of games with the Bears in the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

  • BYU at UCF — Saturday, Oct. 26.
  • Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Sunday, Oct. 27.

The Knights and Cougars have some fun history and UCF looks further along in its acclimation to the power conference level, making this a potentially huge game for BYU. Also, who could forget former Cougar running back Tyler Allgeier, who’s in his third year with the Falcons? The game is only a couple hours drive down the road.

And don’t forget, this is all happening super close to Disney World and Universal Studios, so all those theme park-loving BYU fans have a ready-made long vacation handed to them.

Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson (33) breaks up a pass intended for Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) during game, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, in Minneapolis. | Abbie Parr

Best Utah road trip

  • Utah at Colorado — Saturday, Nov. 16.
  • Atlanta Falcons at Denver Broncos — Sunday, Nov. 17.

The Utes have had the Buffaloes’ number for several years now, though many times there have been some interesting tidbits in the matchup.

There’s always the Deion Sanders angle, and this will be Utah’s first trip to Boulder since the polarizing coach took over at Colorado.

Hopefully Utah won’t have to start its fifth-string QB this time around, though Luke Bottari did what it took to beat the Buffaloes last year.

As for the Falcons and Broncos, there are a ton of Utah connections in this matchup.

Clark Phillips III is in his second year in Atlanta and has a bright future.

The Broncos are littered with Utes, from All-Pro Garett Bolles and veterans Tim Patrick and Cody Barton to rookies like Jonah Elliss, Devaughn Vele and Thomas Yassmin.

Surely, one or more of these players will have a meaningful impact on the game.

A couple other interesting Utah options

  • Utah at Oklahoma State — Saturday, Sept. 21.
  • Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts or Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints — Sunday, Sept. 22.

Take your pick on the NFL game here, though either of those contests would require a flight to another state after the Utes’ game. Still, the Bears (Jaylon Johnson), Colts (Matt Gay and Julian Blackmon), Eagles (Britain Covey) and Saints (Nephi Sewell) all have a former Utah player suiting up for them.

The Utes’ game at Oklahoma State is also highly anticipated: It will be Utah’s first conference game as a member of the Big 12, against a team that’s expected to be one of the top challengers to win the league.

  • Utah at Houston — Saturday, Oct. 26.
  • Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans — Sunday, Oct. 27.

The Utes should be heavy favorites to beat Houston, though this road trip wouldn’t require leaving town to catch both games. As mentioned before, the Colts have a couple of former Utes to watch in this NFL game, and the Texans are an up-and-coming team.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) is pushed out of bounds by San Francisco 49ers cornerback Deommodore Lenoir (2) during a game Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, in Inglewood, Calif. | Ashley Landis

Best Utah State road trip

  • Utah State at Temple — Saturday, Sept. 21.
  • Green Bay Packers at Tennessee Titans — Sunday, Sept. 22.
  • And/or Washington Commanders at Cincinnati Bengals — Monday, Sept. 23.

OK, OK, OK, yes, there are three games listed here, and the Utah State one isn’t even against the Aggies’ top nonconference opponent.

Hear me out, though.

Utah State is much more likely to beat Temple than some of the other nonconference opponents on its schedule — like Utah and USC — and if you fly in a day early, there’s a chance to see some of the sights in Philadelphia.

From there, Utah State fans (depending on the money situation) could choose to fly to one or more NFL games that include some legendary Aggies on their way back to Utah.

First, there’s Jordan Love with the Packers. He made a strong impression during his first season as a starting quarterback last year, and this is a totally winnable game in Nashville.


Then there’s a Monday night matchup in Cincinnati where USU fans could watch one of the all-timers, Bobby Wagner, play for his new team, the Commanders.

Admit it, if money was no object and time off of work weren’t a concern, it’d be a pretty fun road trip.

A couple other interesting Utah State options

  • Utah State at USC — Saturday, Sept. 7.
  • Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers — Sunday, Sept. 8.

No, there aren’t any Utah State ties on either the Raiders or Chargers, but they are bitter AFC West rivals that could make this an entertaining game. Also, there’s the chance to see the famed Coliseum, even if the Trojans will be heavy favorites.

  • Utah State at Colorado State, Saturday, Nov. 30.
  • Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos, Monday, Dec. 2.

Utah State could be fighting for bowl eligibility at this point, and the Aggies have had their success against the Rams in recent seasons. And while there aren’t any USU players on either the Browns’ or Broncos’ rosters, there are a long list of Utah ties on those rosters that Aggie fans can cheer for — or boo, if they so choose.

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