Should I stay or should I go: A definitive guide to BYU football’s road schedule

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Earlier this year the above video — which mocks BYU’s home schedule — made the rounds on social media. Outside of a September contest against Boise State, it’s hard to argue that the Cougars’ home schedule is filled with a murderers’ row of the college football elite.

But when taken as a whole, BYU’s schedule is a daunting challenge that gives Cougar fans across the nation a chance to see BYU play some of the top programs in the country. If there was ever a year that called for attending a road game, this is the year.

The question that I’ve been asking myself since the schedule was finalized (and I haven’t decided on an answer yet) is to which away game should I travel? Below I list the pros and cons of traveling to each game. From the game I’m least likely to attend to my top pick, here is my final unscientific rankings of which games you should travel to.

Spartan Stadium at San Jose State

(Photo courtesy ocjones.com)

BYU plays San Jose State on November 6. (Photo courtesy ocjones.com)

Pros: If your goal is to witness a victory, this game might be your best bet.

Cons: That being said, the last time the Cougars traveled to Spartan Stadium, they left with their proverbial tails between their legs, reminding Cougar fans that there are no guarantees in life.

Should I stay or should I go? This is one that probably can be best enjoyed from the comforts of home. So unless you live nearby or didn’t make it to the Bay Area when the Cougars faced Cal last year or San Jose State in 2012, you probably can sit this one out.

Maverik Stadium at Utah State

(Photo courtesy football.ballparks.com)

BYU plays Utah State on November 28. (Photo courtesy football.ballparks.com)

Pros: As the old saying goes, “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” and it should be cold in Logan the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but the real question is will the Cougars be able to exact revenge not only for last season’s loss in Provo, but also for ending Taysom Hill’s season for the second time in three years.

Cons: As much as Holmoe deserves to be commended for scheduling an in-state rival on the last game of the season, this game acts as a cruel reminder that BYU isn’t playing the rival it wants to play in the last game of the season. Plus if I haven’t mentioned it before, it will be cold and your seat might be made of concrete.

Should I stay or should I go? This is one you should probably play by ear. If the Cougars have survived the brutal stretch of the schedule in September in tact, it might be worth risking the drive up Sardine Canyon to watch the game. If not, you might be better off eating a leftover turkey sandwich and thinking about what might have been.

Arrowhead Stadium at Missouri

(Photo courtesy kcchiefs.com)

BYU plays Missouri on November 14. (Photo courtesy kcchiefs.com)

Pros: You probably can’t tell by looking at my picture at the bottom of this article, but I have a body made by barbecue, and my favorite type of BBQ is the sweet and saucy variety that’s a specialty in Kansas City. So needless to say having the opportunity to pair a BYU football game with a Kansas City barbecue tour is the stuff dreams are made of for me. Add to that the fact that the Cougars will be playing in another NFL stadium, and I don’t know why I wouldn’t make this my go-to road trip for the season.

Cons: That’s when I remember the game will be in Kansas City in the middle of November where it can get a little cold.

Should I stay or should I go? If you love BBQ or want to see BYU play an SEC team in an NFL stadium, make the trip. Otherwise stay warm and watch it on your big screen.

Rose Bowl against UCLA

(Photo courtesy rosebowlstadium.com)

BYU plays UCLA on September 19. (Photo courtesy rosebowlstadium.com)

 Pros: There are not many better places to be than LA in the fall, and there aren’t many better places to watch a college football game than the Rose Bowl. Put those two together and it’s almost an unbeatable combination.

Cons: Traffic! I attended the game at UCLA in 2007 and it was the worst traffic I have experienced leaving a game since the 1996 WAC Championship game at Sam Boyd Stadium. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we lost, but LA traffic definitely is no joke. So if you go, be sure to get some inside tips on parking from a local.

Should I stay or should I go? If you’re looking to shoehorn a family getaway into your road trip, this game is probably your best bet. Unless you don’t want to fight through a crowd of large Utah families headed to Disneyland that weekend.

Michigan Stadium at Michigan

(Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

BYU plays Michigan State on September 26. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Pros: I’ve got three words for you: The Big House! That’s all you need to know about this one. Michigan Stadium is one of the most historically significant venues in all of college football. To be able to say that you were at the Big House when BYU defeated one of the storied programs in college football history would be priceless. Just ask your Ute friend who probably hasn’t stopped talking about it since the Utes went into Michigan Stadium and defeated the Wolverines, not once but twice. On second thought, don’t go talk to your Ute friend about this.

Cons: There isn’t much downside I can see going to this game, other than flying to Detroit. I admittedly know very little about Detroit, but it seems to get a bad rap in the media and in the movie “8 Mile.”

Should I stay or should I go? Other than Nebraska, this is the game that should be penciled in as a must-see in person. The Wolverines are ranked in the preseason Top 25 in some polls and will be breaking in Michigan legend Jim Harbaugh as their new head coach.

Memorial Stadium at Nebraska

(Photo courtesy Huskers.com)

BYU opens the season against Nebraska on September 5. (Photo courtesy Huskers.com)

Pros: Nebraska is one of the blue bloods of college football. The Huskers have won five national championships under legendary coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne. Nebraska will be playing its first game under head coach Mike Riley, who is coming to the Huskers from Oregon State. Bronco Mendenhall has had success against Riley-coached teams, posting a 2–1 record against the Beavers, including a 44–20 shellacking in the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl.

Cons: When Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers were preparing to head west they camped at Winter Quarters, which is now in North Omaha. The prophet BYU is named after didn’t see a reason to stay in the Cornhusker State then, and outside of a museum exhibit about Kool-Aid and the world’s largest ball of stamps, there’s not much there to draw you to the state.

Should I stay or should I go? There’s no question about it. If there’s only one away game you can go to, this should be it. There’s something exciting and special about the first game of the season. Every team is undefeated and has the hopes of staying that way. It’s also one of the many chances the Cougars have this season to prove that they should have a seat at the adult table with the other P5 schools.

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Jon Eyre has worked in marketing communications at a number of high tech companies in Utah Valley for the past nine years. He is a 2003 graduate of BYU, and worked as a graduate assistant for the school's Sports Information Department for the 2003 and 2004 football seasons. When he isn't working, Jon spends his time scouring the internet searching for obscure indie bands, trying to decipher the meaning of Lost, or hanging out with his wife and three children.

7 Comments

  1. AvatarKen Reed Reply

    I know all these cities, and they are all good choices. My choices in order.

    1) Omaha (Lincoln is only a few miles west). Nice town, great steaks, friendly people. Stay in Omaha and drive to Lincoln. You won’t regret it.

    2) Kansas City – very nice city, like Omaha, on the banks of the Missouri River. Great BBQ, second only to Memphis and Tex Mex. Gate’s BBQ is my favorite. Very different. KC Masterpiece is too sweet for me.

    3) Ann Arbor – very pretty college town, near Detroit. You’ll like it. Detroit is not as bad as you might think, but you’ll be in the burbs anyway.

    4) Pasadena – Park in Pasadena and walk to the Rose Bowl. Pasadena is a very pretty town. LA Traffic is what it is, but the freeways are usually pretty clear on Saturdays. Stay off the 210 if you can. I5 has construction south of the 10 (toward Disneyland), but you’ll be far north. Your kid would love six flags, so you might want to stay in Santa Clarita.

    1. AvatarJason Pead Reply

      Regarding Omaha-You’ve obviously never been to the Henry Doorly Zoo, or even Omaha for that matter. Based on your assessment of the state you learned everything about Omaha from the church history manual.

  2. AvatarJason Mercado Reply

    I live in Michigan midway between Detroit and Ann Arbor. Here are a few other reasons to go to the Michigan game:
    1) Fall colors – especially if you have time to drive north or to one of the lakes. You can go for a hike in some of the metro or state parks nearby as well.
    2) Cider mills – apple cider, donuts, family activities!
    3) Zingerman’s Deli – great sandwiches! A little pricey, but great!

    Detroit still has its fair share of dilapidated buildings, but the downtown area has nice restaurants, a lot of activity and some architectural history to it. I’d steer clear of the neighborhoods in Detroit proper, but that is fairly easy to do even when visiting downtown.

    Dearborn, which is west of Detroit and about 40 minutes from Ann Arbor (only about 15 minutes from the airport), has some great Lebanese/Middle Eastern restaurants. The food uses a lot of spices for great flavor. You just don’t get this type of food in Utah, so it’s worth trying if you’ve never had it.

  3. AvatarJB Reply

    I disagree about “there aren’t many better places to watch a college football game than the Rose Bowl.” While the stadium has a lot of history, it’s an old stadium that feels cavernous with the fans sitting miles from the field. Add to the fact it a poor college football atmosphere owing to the fact that the stadium is not near the UCLA campus and UCLA football fans being pretty fickle.

    The Rose Bowl is similar to Wrigley Field in that they are considered cathedrals of their respective sports when in fact both venues are old and worn. At least Wrigley has loyal fans and interest surrounding neighborhood giving it a unique game day experience.

  4. AvatarDale Hendrickson Reply

    Going to 1st six games of the season, then deciding on the rest if their record is good. Rose Bowl is an awesome stadium, come early leave late, park on the golf course. Great venue.

  5. AvatarPeter Reply

    Fun post, and good luck to you, except Go Blue!

    And, yes, a bit of an error–the Rose Bowl is not at UCLA and, personally, I’d say it is pretty gorgeous year-round.

    mgoblogging

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