ESPN’s Chris Fowler calls BYU football “a little under-ranked”
When a college football team comes off a big year, frequently the success results in the team getting more attention the next season.
That’s not really been the case for BYU, however, who finished 2020 with an 11-1 record and ranked No. 11 in the nation in both major polls.
But the Cougars were doubted nationally because of the cobbled-together nature of the 2020 schedule and the loss of a number of starters to the NFL.
Even two wins over Pac-12 opponents so far this year have only barely gotten BYU into the Top 25 — but that doesn’t mean observers don’t recognize what the Cougars might accomplish in 2021.
“BYU can always use the chip on their shoulder because I think that program will always feel ‘overlooked’ — but that’s OK,” ESPN commentator Chris Fowler said in a teleconference Thursday morning. “That’s been great fuel. They beat Utah. That’s a sweet one. The schedule is front loaded and there’s the opportunity to catapult into the conversation.”
He said he feels like the No. 23-ranked Cougars are “a little under-ranked right now where they are.”
Fowler said he saw BYU knock off Utah and felt like it was a great showing in Provo.
“I was very, very impressed with what they did,” Fowler said. “Then you come in and they are an underdog again against Arizona State. It’s tough to win respect.”
Fowler believes that lack of respect can push the Cougars to be even better.
“Many teams have used that and it fits the BYU personality,” Fowler said. “You try to go out and take care of business throughout the schedule.”
He noted that there are still some high-profile opponents left on the Cougar slate, including Boise State, Baylor, Virginia and USC.
“It’s a very interesting schedule,” Fowler said. “It’s phenomenal. If they can keep it going, they don’t have to apologize or answer for anything. To me, if BYU continues to play this was, it will be in the mix and move up the rankings quickly.”
The only game that matters at the moment is the next one and Fowler said the battle between ranked opponents slated for Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium (8:15 p.m. MT, ESPN).
“Any time you get a chance to play a Pac-12 team, it’s a big game and ASU comes in ranked,” Fowler said. “That’s a late night game that I will try to keep an eye on or record because I think it is intriguing. Jayden Daniels is doing every thing, running and throwing, so it will be a good test for BYU’s defense. This is a fun challenge.”