BYU, Utah, USU could play Friday night football on Fox this season

It’s possible the Utes-Aggies and/or Cougars-Utes games could switch days.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Jakob Robinson (0) breaks up a pass intended for Utah Utes wide receiver Britain Covey (18), in football action between the Utah Utes and the Brigham Young Cougars at Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo, on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

All three of Utah’s FBS college football teams could be playing under Friday night lights on the Fox broadcast network this fall — possibly even against each other.

Fox has announced that it will carry “elite Friday night college football games” featuring teams from the Big 12 (including Brigham Young University and Utah), the Mountain West (including Utah State) and the Big Ten as a replacement for — believe it or not — WWE wrestling. “Friday Night SmackDown” moves to cable’s USA Network in October, leaving a void in Fox’s schedule.

The details are still being worked out, but college football games will definitely air Friday nights on Fox beginning in October. And some games could possibly air in September. In the past, “SmackDown” has been moved to FS1 when there was a conflict with Fox’s coverage of postseason Major League Baseball games.

Each of the Cougars, Utes and Aggies’ home games could end up on a Friday night on Fox — KSTU-Channel 13 in Utah — along with any road games against teams from one of the three conferences. That includes all 12 of Utah’s games, 11 of USU’s 12 games, and 11 of BYU’s 12 games. (BYU already has its home matchup against Oklahoma State listed as either Friday, Oct. 18, or Saturday, Oct. 19.)

According to Fox, game selections won’t be made until late May or early June, after the television rights holders meet with the conferences to set schedules. The Big 12 has TV deals with Fox and ESPN/ABC; the Mountain West with CBS and Fox; and the Big Ten with CBS, NBC and Fox.

Among the games that could end up under Fox’s Friday night lights are Utah at Utah State, currently scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 14 — although moving “SmackDown” for the Utes and Aggies seems unlikely; and BYU at Utah, currently scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 9.

All three Beehive State teams played Friday games in 2023 — BYU at home to Cincinnati; Utah at Oregon State; and Utah State at home to Air Force, at Fresno State, and at New Mexico.

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