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Guest commentary: Phil Steele again displays Cougars in good light

By Ken Driggs

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, July 2 2014 10:35 p.m. MDT

BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall is interviewed during BYU Football Media Day in Provo, Monday, June 23, 2014.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Phil Steele's 2014 College Football Preview is now at newsstands with good news for BYU fans. This prestigious magazine has once again predicted a good season this fall for the team from Provo.

Steele gives each college football team a power rating, which indicates the relative strength of a team against each opponent. In the old days, Street and Smith's football magazine was considered the gold standard, but today a good case can be made that Steele's publication is ahead of the pack.

In his 2014 predictions, BYU has a better power rating than all but two of its regular season opponents, the Texas Longhorns and the Central Florida Knights.

Since the Cougars play the Boise State Broncos on the road and the power ratings are close, this game might be considered a toss-up. What Steele's ratings reveal is that the Cougars might be set for a 10-2 or 9-3 regular season record. That would mean a good to very good season for BYU.

Other highly competitive games under the Steele formula would include the contests with the Utah State Aggies and the Houston Cougars. Although the BYU Cougars play only three teams from power 5 conferences, four opponents are slotted at the top of their leagues — namely, Central Florida, Houston, Boise State and Utah State.

The only downside of the Steele analysis is that BYU would be in the middle of the pack in nearly all of the power 5 conferences. The flipside of that is the Cougars would be projected as the best team in every non-power 5 conference except the American Athletic Conference, where BYU would be second to Central Florida.

If the Power 5 conferences were to use Phil Steele's ratings as a litmus test to determine if BYU would qualify as a competitive team in their sphere, the answer would be a resounding yes. Time will tell if these numbers portend the inclusion of BYU within the upper tier of college football programs.

Ken Driggs of Mesa, Ariz., is a BYU graduate and served as Cosmo in the '60s. Contact him at kkdriggs@gmail.com.

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