BYU lost a gut-wrenching game to Coastal Carolina last weekend, effectively dashing any hopes at a New Year’s Six bowl. However, BYU is still squarely in position for a bowl bid and many bowl games would love to have BYU play in their game.
Birmingham Bowl vs. Nevada (Yahoo!)
Much like Boise State, Nevada is one of those programs that has seemed to trail BYU to each of their conferences. By the time the Wolf Pack entered the WAC in 2000, BYU had already gone to the Mountain West. Then after BYU went independent in 2011, Nevada jumped to the Mountain West. However, these two schools have faced five times, but not since 2014 when the Wolf Pack won 42-35. These two teams are not too far from each other so it would be bizarre to see them square off in Alabama. Nevertheless, Nevada is having a solid season at 6-1 but they are undefeated on the Mainland (their only loss coming at Hawaii). They would demand BYU’s respect.
Montgomery Bowl vs. Liberty (CBS, 247 Sports, USA TODAY)
Three separate sites have BYU and Liberty meeting up for the second straight year. The Flames are a fellow independent program and they gave the Cougars all they could handle in Provo last season before BYU prevailed 31-24. Head coach Hugh Freeze has done a fantastic job in 2020 and the Flames are 9-1, like BYU, and ranked No. 22 in the AP poll including two wins on the road against ACC foes in Syracuse and Virginia Tech. They are battle tested and dangerous and despite the lack of name brand, this would be a matchup near the level of Coastal Carolina for BYU.
First Responder Bowl vs. Tulsa (Bleacher Report)
Tulsa is another one of those solid Group of 5 programs that BYU matches up well against. The Golden Hurricane’s only loss of the season is to what was then a top 12 Oklahoma State team on the road. They have two top 25 wins against UCF and SMU and are scheduled to meet No. 7 Cincinnati in the AAC title game in a few weeks. Tulsa is currently are ranked 25th in the CFP rankings. The Cougars and Tulsa last met in the 2012 Armed Forces Bowl.
First Responder Bowl vs. UTSA (Stadium)
This would cause some eye rolls across Cougar nation. Before Coastal Carolina rudely ended BYU’s quest for perfection, BYU’s closest call was against the Roadrunners at home, when they squeaked by 27-20 on October 10. UTSA is having a solid season at 7-4 including three straight wins. However, no one wants a rematch during bowl season.
Boca Raton Bowl vs. UCF (College Football News)
This would be an attractive bowl location in Palm Beach County, Florida. Yes, it would certainly favor the UCF Knights, given they wouldn’t have to leave their home state while BYU has struggled mightily in the state of Florida. However, of the possible bowl matchups with Group of 5 teams, this might be the best combination of optimal bowl location and attractive opponent. UCF is just two seasons removed from back-to-back New Year’s Six bowl appearances. The Knights and Cougars last locked horns in 2014 when UCF won an overtime thriller.
Gasparilla Bowl vs. Utah (my pick)
Hear me out on this. The PAC-12 bowl situation is a mess with several bowls including the Las Vegas and LA folding their tents until next year. ESPN will want to put as many worthy PAC-12 teams into bowls as possible over middle tier Group of 5 teams. Technically, the conference alignment for this bowl is American, ACC, or SEC but blessed are the flexible in this crazy COVID world. This would be one of the highest rated non-NY6 bowls of the entire season. The last time these two teams didn’t play in the regular season (2015), they were paired in the Las Vegas Bowl, a game BYU fans would love to forget. However, with how solid BYU has looked all year and Utah’s rocky start, this could maybe, finally, perhaps, be the year BYU could beat Utah for the first time since 2009. Having it on a neutral field over 2,000 miles away from the Wasatch front would level the playing field. There are a ton of reasons why ESPN and the bowls should make this matchup happen. Let’s be honest, the only worthy consolation prize for losing out on an undefeated season and a New Year’s Six bowl is beating Utah.