BYU and Tennessee were scheduled to kick off the 2023 season in Provo on September 2, 2023. This was to be BYU’s first game and first home game as a member of the Big 12 conference.
It was supposed to be the rematch after BYU traveled to Rocky Top in 2019, where they won a dramatic overtime game 29-26.
Unfortunately, the Volunteers opted to buy out the game, for over $2 million, in favor of the season opener against ACC foe Virginia at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
Now, in the aftermath, BYU must replace the Vols on their schedule. They need a new foe to open their inaugural season against in the Big 12. They already have a home game scheduled against Southern Utah as well as a road game at Arkansas, another opponent of the DRY.
Obviously, Tom Holmoe and the Cougars would like to replace what was supposed to be a showpiece opening weekend game with another opponent of similar stature.
Let’s explore four Power 5 programs that have a September 2 opening date as well as an additional slot for non-conference play, possibly coming to Provo to kick off the 2023 campaign.
Of course, in each of these scenarios, it’s up to the school to accept the invitation to travel to Provo to play a real road game. Not all Power 5 programs wish to accept such invitations.
The Yellow Jackets have had a tough string of seasons lately. Head coach Geoff Collins is 9-25 in three seasons as head coach at Atlanta. It’s an ACC option to come to Provo. This wouldn’t be completely unfamiliar territory to Georgia Tech, as these teams have met four times before, including two in Provo. They last met in 2013, in Provo, which ended in a 38-20 victory for BYU.
The Wildcats have very little set in stone when it comes to their 2023 non-conference roster heading into the Big 10 game. They just have a date with New Mexico State on Oct. 28. They have announced that they will face ACC opponent Duke at some point, but no date has been announced. There remains a slot for BYU and September 2 remains open for the Wildcats. Northwestern is two years away from a Citrus Bowl win over Auburn and finishes No. 10 in the latest AP poll. Although the two programs have been around since before World War II, they have never been equaled in the field.
BYU and Pitt certainly have a history. Famously, the Cougars began their historic journey to the national championship in 1984 by defeating No. 3 Pitt on their home turf. Pitt returned the favor in 1987, beating the Cougars in Provo. The Panthers are coming off one of their best seasons in years, posting an 11-3 record and advancing to the New Year’s Six Bowl, finishing 13th in the latest AP poll.
Now for the piece de resistance. The SEC is allowing four non-conference games and so far the mighty Crimson Tide has only two scheduled and none on BYU’s now open date. Alabama is coming off a 13-win season and is the national runner-up. Either way, getting Alabama to agree to come to Provo would be an incredible score for BYU. The odds of that happening are slim, as Alabama rarely, if ever, moves west of the Rockies. The image of Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide taking the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium to christen the Big 12 era of BYU football seems like something either imagined or created on an Xbox. Even if BYU is to meet somewhere on neutral ground like Arlington, Texas would be a huge advantage.
Now it’s up to BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe to do the magic. He has shown in the last decade of independence that he can make it work. Only time will tell.