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Darren Abate, Associated Press, File

BYU football 2020 schedule: Cougars sign up Texas State, UTSA in Provo

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Updated - Aug. 26, 2020 at 5:09 p.m. | Posted - Aug. 6, 2020 at 2:50 p.m.



PROVO — Athletics directors begin signing contracts on football seasons years in advance, but they didn't predict the global coronavirus pandemic and how it would ravage their carefully planned work, in addition to the lives lost and economic impact of COVID-19.

BYU is no exception, as Tom Holmoe has games scheduled with opponents like Boise State, Stanford and North Carolina State as far as 2035.

But in one swoop — or rather, several decisions by conferences as they attempt to play a season in the midst of a global pandemic — half of the Cougars' 2020 schedule has been eliminated. With each hit, and an NCAA governing body that has yet to rule on the status of the season until at least late August, it becomes more and more unlikely that the college football season will start on time — if it stars at all.

Here's what we know (and what we don't ) about the status of each game in the upcoming season. Check back regularly for additional updates.

Sept. 3: Utah (canceled)

Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City

This was supposed to be a chance for BYU to snap a nine-game losing streak to their archrivals to the north. Instead, that opportunity will have to wait at least one year.

The annual Holy War rivalry has only been interrupted once since 1946, which was an originally planned two-year break in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. In a stroke of fate, the two teams played each other in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2015, and have alternated home sites each year in the four years since.

Sept. 7: Navy

Navy-Marine Corps. Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland

The rivalry game has been replaced with the Cougars' first game against the Midshipmen — and its first game against a military academy other than former Mountain West rival Air Force — since 1989. BYU head coach Kalani Sitake and Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo are two of the only Polynesian head coaches in college football, and both grew up in the same hometown in Hawaii, as well.

Sept. 12: Michigan State (canceled)

LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo

The Cougars' home opener against the Spartans was canceled as a result of the Big Ten's decision to move to a conference-only schedule, becoming the first Power Five conference to make such a move. BYU is 1-0 all-time against Michigan State, a 31-14 win in East Lansing, Michigan in 2016.

Sept. 19: Army

Michie Stadium, West Point, N.Y.

The Cougars confirmed a reported home-and-home series Wednesday morning with Army, marking the first-ever matchup between BYU and the Black Knights in a 1:30 p.m. MT kickoff on CBS.

"It’s a real honor for BYU football to play in Michie Stadium, one of the most historic venues in college football," BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said. "We are very excited to visit the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and play the Black Knights."

Army, the oldest of the five military service academies established in 1802, will make a return trip to Provo in 2032.

Sept. 19: Arizona State (canceled)

Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona

One of three road games canceled by the Pac-12 in its move to a conference-only schedule. The Cougars are 7-20 all-time against the former WAC rival Sun Devils, but haven't faced one another since 1998.

Sept. 26: Minnesota (canceled)

Minneapolis, MNTCF Bank Stadium

BYU had never faced the Golden Gophers in football. The historic meeting between the two teams will have to wait for another, post-pandemic year.

Sept. 26: Troy

LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo

The Cougars keep fighting, adding a top-tier team from the Sun Belt Conference to replace a host of cancellations and postponements from the 2020 season.

BYU added a home-and-home series with Troy, beginning Sept. 26 in Provo, with a return game scheduled for Sept. 5, 2026, at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy, Alabama. The Trojans, who have won 21 conference championships and six over the past 14 years in the Sun Belt, have never faced BYU in football.

"Troy has been one of the top football programs in the Sun Belt Conference for many years," said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe in a news release. "Despite the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 college football season, we worked out a contract with Troy over the past three weeks and look forward to facing the Trojans."

Former BYU offensive line coach Ryan Pugh is currently in his second season as Troy’s offensive coordinator.

Oct. 2: Utah State (canceled)

LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo

BYU's home opener was supposed to be "the other" rivalry game — the one with a Wagon Wheel for a trophy. The Cougars are 49-37-3 all-time against the Aggies, who have won two of the last three.

But the Aggies were taken off the schedule when the Mountain West became just the second FBS conference to indefinitely postpone the fall season. Like the MAC, the league will hope to restart in the spring, among "the feasibility of rescheduling other fall competitions.

"While we are disappointed about the postponement of our fall sports and the opportunities for our student-athletes to compete, the safety and well-being of those student-athletes has been, is and always will be our No. 1 priority," Hartwell said. "This has been a stressful time for our student-athletes with all the uncertainties regarding their competitive seasons, and even though sports will not be played this fall, we will continue to provide the resources necessary for their mental health and well-being, and academic successes."

Oct. 10: Missouri (canceled)

LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo

The Cougars split the first two meetings in this series, played in 1983 and 2015. The tiebreaker was the final Power Five deduction to the schedule, marking the first time since 1975 that BYU did not have a Power Five team scheduled since 1975.

Oct. 10: Texas State

LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo

From the SEC to the Sun Belt, Holmoe replaced the home game against Missouri with a buy game against Texas State, bringing the Bobcats to Provo for the first time in program history.

Texas State is the fifth-largest university in Texas, with a 116-year-old football program that has been a member of the Sun Belt since 2013. The former two-time Division II national champions are led by head coach Jake Spavital, who is in his second season with the Bobcats.

“We are fortunate that UTSA and Texas State had open dates on their schedules which allowed them to travel to Provo,” Holmoe said. “We look forward to hosting them in LaVell Edwards Stadium and are excited to play football this fall.”

Oct. 16: Houston

LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo

The Cougars are 2-0 against the other (red) Cougars, but haven't played since Taysom Hill and then-No. 25 BYU held off John O'Korn's Houston team, 33-25 in 2014. Teams in the American Athletic Conference will play an eight-game conference schedule with up to four nonconference games.

Oct. 24: Northern Illinois (canceled)

Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, Ill.

The Cougars' planned trip to the Huskie Chi-Town Showdown was originally moved from SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois, to the NIU's home stadium in DeKalb. But it was canceled when the Mid-American Conference became the first FBS league to call off the fall football season.

Oct. 24: Texas-San Antonio

LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo

The Cougars announced the home tilt with the Roadrunners in conjunction with the Bobcats, marking BYU's eighth game on the 2020 schedule, sixth home game, and the third against a team from the state of Texas. UTSA launched its football program in 2011 before joining the WAC in 2012. The Roadrunners, who are coached by Jeff Traylor, have been a member of Conference USA since 2013.

Western Kentucky wide receivers Jahcour Pearson, right, and Quin Jernighan, left, celebrate after a touchdown during the first half of the NCAA First Responder Bowl college football game against Western Michigan in Dallas, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman) (Photo: Roger Steinman, Associated Press)

Oct. 31: Western Kentucky

LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, Utah

The Cougars confirmed a matchup Friday, Aug. 21, with the Conference USA school, marking the first football game with the Hilltoppers in school history.

It's not the first time the two schools have met, though; WKU basketball leads BYU 3-0 all-time, but hasn't played the Cougars since 1954. The two mascots also met earlier in 2020 in the finals of the SiriusXM mascot challenge. Cosmo the Cougar claimed that title, with some controversy surrounding fan voting.

“We are grateful that Western Kentucky was able to quickly put together a game that will enable our teams to play football,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said. “We are looking forward to the matchup and hosting the Hilltoppers at LaVell Edwards Stadium.”

It's the sixth official game on BYU's 2020 fall schedule.

Nov. 6: Boise State (canceled)

Albertsons Stadium, Boise

The Broncos are 7-3 all-time against BYU, including a perfect 5-0 mark on the famed Smurf Turf.

But the Broncos were taken off the schedule when the Mountain West became just the second FBS conference to indefinitely postpone the fall season. Like the MAC, the league will hope to restart in the spring, among "the feasibility of rescheduling other fall competitions.

"Despite everything that has been thrown in their way over the last several months, our student-athletes, coaches and staff had been preparing for a 2020 season," Boise State athletic director Curt Apsey said in a statement. "They were ready for every possible uncertainty, but in the end, the physical and mental well-being of student-athletes across the conference necessitated today's announcement."

Nov. 14: San Diego State (canceled)

LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo

San Diego State athletic director John David Wicker initially told a local radio station in Southern California that the Aztecs plan on playing the Cougars in one of their two nonconference games. But the plan was upended by the Mountain West Conference's decision.

"When we started the process months ago of looking at what fall sports may look like, we did so with one nonnegotiable aspect — the safety and well-being of our student-athletes," Wicker later said. "After continuous consultation with local and state health officials and in conjunction with the Mountain West Conference, we have decided to postpone our fall sport competitions."

Nov. 21: North Alabama

LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo

The FCS Big South postponed the football season Tuesday, but league members like North Alabama have been allowed to play "up to four nonconference games in the fall." That means the Lions intend to face the Cougars, currently scheduled for Nov. 21. North Alabama's other games include Sept. 3 at Western Illinois, Sept. 12, vs. Jacksonville State and Sept. 19 at Chattanooga.

"Our plan is to look at all of our options and hopefully have the chance to play a full slate of games, combining the fall and spring," said UNA Athletic Director Mark Linder. "One of the biggest concerns of our players is not having the opportunity to play a full schedule. This plan provides the ultimate flexibility, to play four nonconference games in the fall and the Big South schedule in the spring."

Nov 28: Stanford (canceled)

Stanford, Calif., Stanford Stadium

The Cougars and Cardinal haven't met since 2004 when Stanford rolled to a 37-10 win in Northern California. Even if the game doesn't get immediately rescheduled, the two teams are scheduled to meet again in 2022 (Stanford, Calif.), 2025 (Provo), 2026 (Stanford, Calif.), 2028 (Stanford, Calif.), 2029 (Provo), 2031 (Provo) and 2035 (Provo).

Bowl game: ESPN-owned

Parts unknown

BYU recently signed a seven-year agreement with ESPN that included rights to be placed in a bowl game owned and operated by the Worldwide Leader in Sports in 2020, 2022 and 2024, with additional provisions to play in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 2021, 2023 and 2025. The contract also includes provisions to be selected by the Cheez-It Bowl up to two times in that contract.

There's no guarantee any of those bowl games will be around in 2020 — the Redbox Bowl became the first postseason college football game to back out of the 2020 season when it opted to forego its final year with the San Francisco 49ers and Levi's Stadium.

Bowl games often operate at a loss and rely heavily on ticket sales and fan distribution from schools to come close to breaking even. But none of those bowl games have been officially shelved for the upcoming season, either (again, if there is one).

  • Status: To be determined

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