After coming off back-to-back 10+ win seasons, another Top 25 ranking and bringing back nearly all of its starters (18), BYU has everything to put together another special season. In fact, BYU return 88% of its production, ranking second most in the nation.
Just don’t tell that to ESPN’s Football Power Index “FPI.”
As of right now, the system predicts that No. 25 BYU will go 7-5 this year. Not exactly what many fans, players and coaches have in mind with so many starters returning on both sides of the ball.
ESPN FPI Projections
Wins: Stanford, Utah State, Wyoming, South Florida, Liberty, ECU, Utah Tech
Losses: Notre Dame, Baylor, Oregon, Arkansas, Boise State
Remember, FPI is a computer. This is not a poll based on ESPN’s prognosticators. The FPI has been around since 2013 and has been predicting the outcomes of games based on various metrics. It’s all data driven and doesn’t care what teams have done in past years.
So this brings up the question. Just how accurate has the FPI been predicting BYU games over the years?
Let’s take a look!
BYU vs. FPI
BYU 2016 regular season record: 8-4
ESPN FPI prediction: 6-6
BYU 2017 regular season record: 4-9
ESPN FPI prediction: 8-4
BYU 2018 regular season record: 6-6
ESPN FPI prediction: 5-7
BYU 2019 regular season record: 7-5
ESPN FPI prediction: 8-4
BYU 2021 regular season record: 10-2
ESPN FPI prediction: 10-2
BYU 2022 regular season record: TBD
ESPN FPI 2022: 7-5
** No FPI projections in 2020 due to COVID **
The FPI was way off in 2016 and 2017, but has improved dramatically with the 2018, 2019 and 2021 seasons being very accurate. With more consistency in the program — Kalani entering his 7th season — perhaps the FPI has found it’s groove for the Cougars, combined with some updates and improvements for itself along the way.
While that’s not reassuring for Cougar fans — considering FPI has the Cougars going just 7-5 this season — luckily the game is played on the field, and not on paper.
Yes, BYU has a tough schedule — with games against five teams that finished in the Top 25 last season — but because the schedule is not front loaded like it has been in years past, I think they’ll at least split their six toughest games (Notre Dame, Baylor, Oregon, Arkansas, Boise State and Utah State), with a good shot at going 4-2 against these teams.
As long as the program doesn’t blow it against the cupcakes (Stanford, Wyoming, South Florida, Liberty, ECU, Utah Tech), the Cougars should end the regular season at 9-3.
And with a bowl win, the Cougars can continue the streak of 10+ win seasons.
Take that FPI.