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Hugh Carey, Deseret News
BYU and UNLV compete in the LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, in Provo.

News that BYU has scheduled Wyoming in 2022 and 2024 isn’t earth shattering. But they’re football games. That isn’t a given when you’re an independent.

More interesting is that the Cougars are chipping away at better late-season schedules.

BYU will never book a full slate of high-level opponents as an independent. That might be a good thing, considering it barely won any games last year. Yet even when the Cougars are bad, they’re a team a lot of marquee programs don’t want to risk. Better to play someone with a lesser pedigree.

But there are some great opponents ahead. Athletic director Tom Holmoe deserves credit on that. The Cougars play USC and Washington in Provo next season, as well as Tennessee on the road. In 2020 the Cougars host Michigan State and Missouri, and in 2021 Arizona State, Utah and Virginia.

Also encouraging to BYU are the possible inroads into late-season scheduling. In 2020, according to FBSchedules.com, they face Boise State, San Diego State, North Alabama and Stanford in November. Only one uninteresting game in the bunch (you do the detective work on that).

In 2021 only two games are on the schedule in November, but one of them is at USC; the other is Georgia … Southern.

November games in 2022 are Boise State, East Carolina and Stanford, according to the scheduling website, but only the Carolina game is in Provo.

While getting name opponents late in the year is improving, getting good home games remains problematic. BYU’s 2021 and 2023 games vs. USC are both on the road. So is the 2024 game against North Carolina State and the 2026 game at Virginia Tech.

9 comments on this story

Some nice early-season home games are happening: 2019 vs. Washington; 2020 with Michigan State and Missouri; 2021 with Arizona State and Virginia; 2022 with Baylor; 2023 with Tennessee; and 2026 with Virginia Tech. Two-for-ones are still the currency of choice by P5 schools.

But don’t forget the possibility of buyouts by some of those opponents.

Independence isn’t ideal financially, or BYU would have long ago stopped caring about being in a conference. But it’s enough to keep it interesting if the Cougars can win a decent share of those games. If that happens, the national love will come, whether anyone good wants to visit Provo or not.