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Rick Bowmer, AP Photo, File

One-third of BYU football games in 2020 will be on weeknights; does it matter?

By Sean Walker, | Posted - Feb. 27, 2020 at 2:03 p.m.

PROVO — They’re not in the afternoons anymore.

Kalani Sitake’s fifth season at the helm of the BYU football program will be unlike any of his previous four. It includes six matchups against Power-5 opponents plus Boise State, San Diego State and in-state rival Utah State; and a home tilt with top American Athletic Conference foe Houston.

It’s a brutal schedule to navigate; by Thursday, it became unlike any other in the country, even while the Cougars are still trying to replace at least one member of the coaching staff.

On Thursday, the Mountain West Conference released the its 12-team’s schedules for the upcoming season, and Boise State announced that its Nov. 7 home date with the Cougars was being moved up a day, to Friday, Nov. 6.

It’s the third Friday night game during BYU’s 2020 season, including Friday, Oct. 2, against Utah State and Friday, Oct. 16, against Houston.

After not playing a single Friday night game in 2019, the Cougars will open the season for the second straight year on a Thursday, Sept. 3, at rival Utah inside a renovating Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Last year's BYU-Boise State game was among the most thrilling of the season for Cougar fans: a 28-25 win over the then-No. 14 Broncos that handed the Mountain West power its only loss of the regular season.

With two home games on Friday night and a pair of road games off the weekend, that leaves only four Saturday afternoon home contests at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.

On the field, the day of the game likely won’t mean much. The Cougars have the entire offseason — or at least all of fall camp — to prepare for the Sept. 3 opener against the Utes, and a bye week will precede the Nov. 6 kickoff at Boise State.

BYU and Utah State have traditionally played on the Friday before the general conference weekend of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with the strong following of church members in both schools’ fanbases. So the only new “short week” is Friday, Oct. 16, against Houston. It will be the third straight home game for the Cougars — a run that also features the Aggies and Southeastern Conference foe Missouri (Saturday, Oct. 10).

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Baylor Romney is congratulated by teammates following their defeat of the Boise State Broncos in NCAA football in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (Photo: Ravell Call, KSL)

Kickoff times will be announced at a later date, but it seems likely that the weeknight games will kick late, with the four contests’ all occurring in the Mountain time zone.

The disadvantages of playing on a weeknight are clear, but both teams feature the same playing conditions. It’s not like one team can kickoff while the other team waits 24 hours.

The advantages, of course, involve a national television presence and more eyeballs on the game — the chance to draw relevance nationally, and mostly on a night that is traditionally regarded as a staple of high school football across the country.

Recruiting could be impacted because of moving four games to weeknights, as well. So, what do you think? Are you excited about BYU’s week night-heavy football schedule? Let us know in the comments below.

Cougars add two with Fresno State

Also Thursday, BYU announced a two-game series with former conference foe Fresno State. The Cougars and Bulldogs will meet Nov. 8, 2025, at Bulldog Stadium in Fresno, California, followed by a return trip to LaVell Edwards Stadium on Oct. 9, 2027.

It will be the 12th all-time meeting between the two schools, including five as members of the old Western Athletic Conference from 1992-98.

Fresno State, which leads the series 6-5, won the most recent matchup 20-13 in Fresno on Nov. 4, 2017.

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