BYU football's regular season has come to a close, and one thing is clear: The quality of the Cougars' schedules have come a long way since they went independent in 2011.
Remember when the Cougars played only four Power 5 teams in 2011? They played six this year. And while November hasn't been a terribly exciting month for BYU football as an independent so far, there's some fantastic season finales on future schedules.
So, why not rank BYU's future schedules?
The main criteria used to ranked these teams included the number of quality opponents, the number of quality home games and the number of quality late-season games. Also, only years with six or more games on the schedule made this list.
Here's BYU's top six college football schedules:
No. 6: 2017
Games currently scheduled: 12
Games vs. Power 5 opponents: vs. LSU (in Houston), vs. Utah, vs. Wisconsin, at Mississippi State
Games vs. Group of 5 opponents: at Utah State, vs. Boise State, at East Carolina, vs. San Jose State, at Fresno State, at UNLV, vs. UMass, at Hawaii
The first half of BYU's 2017 schedule looks great with the Utes, Badgers and Broncos coming to Provo and a nice trip to NRG Stadium to take on SEC powerhouse LSU.
The second half doesn't look nearly as exciting. Only one of BYU's last six opponents is bowl eligible this year, and that's 6-7 Hawaii.
No. 5: 2022
Games currently scheduled: 6
Games vs. Power 5 opponents: at Utah, at Oregon, at Stanford, vs. Baylor
Games vs. Group of 5 opponents: vs. South Florida, at Boise State
There's a lot of potential here as there's still six games to schedule. It already has a great November game as the season finale will be at Stanford. It could use more quality home games, as Baylor and South Florida are the only two on the schedule so far.
No. 4: 2021
Games currently scheduled: 8
Games vs. Power 5 opponents: vs. Arizona (in Las Vegas), vs. Utah, vs. Arizona State, vs. Virginia, at USC, at Baylor
Games vs. Group of 5 opponents: at South Florida, vs. Boise State
This year would mark the return of former head coach Bronco Mendenhall to Provo, assuming he's still the head coach of Virginia in 2021. Getting the Utes, Sun Devils and Broncos at home should be fun for season ticket holders. Road trips to face the Trojans and Bears should be interesting as well.
No. 3: 2018
Games currently scheduled: 10
Games vs. Power 5 opponents: at Arizona, vs. California, at Wisconsin, at Washington, at Utah
Games vs. Group of 5 opponents: vs. Utah State, vs. Northern Illinois, at Boise State, at UMass, vs. Hawaii
The biggest feature of the 2018 schedule is that the rivalry game vs. Utah is back where it belongs as the season finale. This will be by far the biggest game in November the Cougars have had since going independent. BYU's trip to Boise State is also in November. This will be a welcome change of pace as BYU's November schedules as an independent have been lackluster at best up to this point.
Home games against Arizona and Cal plus trips to Wisconsin and Washington make this a dynamic schedule.
No. 2: 2019
Games currently scheduled: 8
Games vs. Power 5 opponents: vs. Utah, vs. USC, vs. Washington, at Washington State
Games vs. Group of 5 opponents: at Toledo, at Utah State, vs. Boise State, at UMass
2019 features a beautiful slate of home games with the Utes, Trojans, Huskies and Broncos all making the trip to LaVell Edwards Stadium. BYU season ticket holders should be pleased with the teams they'll see at home this year.
The road games BYU has on this schedule aren't as exciting as in other years, and the only game in November so far is a trip to UMass. BYU has four games still to get, so 2019 could compete for the top spot if the Cougars can get one or two more Power 5 or quality Group of 5 opponents.
No. 1: 2020
Games currently scheduled: 9
Games vs. Power 5 opponents: at Utah, vs. Michigan State, at Arizona State, at Minnesota, vs. Missouri, at Stanford
Games vs. Group of 5 opponents: vs. Utah State, at Boise State, at Northern Illinois41 comments on this story
BYU fans sometime grumble about a lack of quality home games and of quality games in November since it went independent. The 2020 schedule has two big-name Power 5 opponents coming to Provo and two games against Power 5 opponents in November, including the season finale at Stanford.
How's that for addressing those concerns?
Athletic director Tom Holmoe has three home slots to fill, and one of them will undoubtedly go to an FCS team. The other two games will probably be against Group of 5 opponents, but there's enough star power already on the schedule at home and in November to put this ahead of any other.
Lafe Peavler is a sports strategist for the Deseret News and KSL.com. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.