Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 7/26/12

Last year was the first season of independence for the BYU Cougars; who responded by going 10-3 and winning a bowl game. They also had the 13th ranked defense nationally, to complement their usual vaunted air attack. What can Bronco Mendenhall do for an encore? Well the schedule gets increasingly tougher this year, but maybe a full season of Riley Nelson under center will make a difference?

2011 was: exciting and interesting. see above for elaboration

2012 will go smoothly if: the LB unit should be among the best in the nation and overall the unit has the pieces in place again to be among the leaders in major defensive categories again. With Kyle Van Noy and Brandon Ogletree they’ll be solid. Nelson will have the chance to run the typical west coast offense this year, and will be expected to make plays with his arm more than with his feet. He’s also clutch as he led two game winning last second drives last year.

2012 will be rough if: The OL lacks depth, and it may take awhile for them to gel. WR Cody Huffman is the best receiver this program has seen since Austin Collie, but who will complement him/take the double teams off?

 BMOC:  all the dudes I mentioned already, plus CB Preston Hadley and DE Ian Dulan

All-name team: FB Zed Mendenhall, I’m assuming that’s the coach’s kid. RG Brock Stringham, NT Romney Fuga, a Mormon team/school with a guy named Romney in an election year? Strap your dog to the roof of your car and let’s get this season started!

Bottom Line: They should be way better than .500 as 8-9 wins certainly looks likely. BYU  is really rock solid on the ends and up the middle on D. If the running game gets stronger, coupled with a really easy November schedule…sounds like a winning formula to me.

Rankings Athlon- 39 Lindy’s- 39  Phil Steele- 33

All the 77s

#36 UCF

#37 Washington

#38 Tennessee

#39 Rutgers

#40 Penn State

#41 Baylor

#42 Texas Tech

#43 Pittsburgh

#44 Cincinnati

#45 Mississippi State

#46 North Carolina

#47 Northwestern

#48 Miami, FL

#49 California

#50 SMU

#51 South Florida

#52 UConn

#53 UCLA

#54 Illinois

#55 Vanderbilt

#56 Washington St.

#57 Wake Forest

#58 Ole Miss

#59 Purdue

#60 Iowa St

#61 Kentucky

#62 Arizona State

#63 Boston College

#64 Ohio

#65 Marshall

#66 Arizona

#67 Southern Miss

#68 Tulsa

#69 Oregon State

#70 Houston

#71 Syracuse

#72 Colorado

#73 Kansas

#74 Maryland

#75 Duke

#76 Minnesota

#77 Indiana

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Fox Sports, MSN, Walter Football and Yardbarker

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too

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