PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – BYU completed its non-conference schedule next year, announcing it will open its first season in the Big 12 Conference at home against Sam Houston State at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Sept. 2, 2023.

Sam Houston State replaces Tennessee, who bought out of its game in Provo for $2 million back in May.

The Cougars have also moved its 2023 home game against Southern Utah University to September 9th, and will round out its non-conference schedule at Arkansas on September 16th before playing its first Big 12 Conference slate.

In addition to the 2025 game with SUU, BYU’s 2023 game against the Thunderbirds originally scheduled for Nov. 18 in Provo will now be played on Saturday, Sept. 9 before the Cougars face the Arkansas Razorbacks of the Southeastern Conference in a road nonconference matchup on Saturday, Sept. 16.

This will be the first team BYU has played Sam Houston State.

A national champion at the FCS level, Sam Houston will face the Cougars as a member of Conference USA in the Bearkats’ move to the FBS level. A member of the Southland Conference from 1986 through spring 2021, Sam Houston won the FCS national championship in 2020, defeating FCS powerhouses North Dakota State, James Madison and South Dakota State en route to the title. The Kats joined the relaunched Western Athletic Conference at the FCS level for the 2021 fall season, going 5-0 in league and 11-1 overall before falling in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. 

Sam Houston has won 15 conference titles and reached the postseason 13 times, including appearing in back-to-back national title games in 2011 and 2012. The Kats also won an NAIA championship in 1964. Sam Houston has had 20 players selected in the NFL Draft, including cornerback Zyon McCollum going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fifth round of this year’s draft. 

BYU and in-state foe SUU have previously played just once in football, with the Cougars earning a 37-7 victory in Provo on Nov. 12, 2016. A member of the Western Athletic Conference, Southern Utah has played football since 1963 and has achieved four conference titles, including two titles won under current BYU assistant head coach Ed Lamb.

BYU has originally scheduled Utah State from 2023-2026, but canceled the four games when it accepted an invitation to the Big 12.