This past week, the PAC-12, MAC and Mountain West conferences all reversed course and laid out plans to play later this fall. This shuffled many things, including the AP Top 25 poll, that saw BYU fall to No. 22 despite thrashing Troy Saturday night.
Another consequence is the lineup of bowls BYU could possibly play. The Cougars are essentially “bowl free agents” this season and will be placed in a bowl that their partner ESPN sees as the best fit. Also, the College Football Playoff Committee is allowing all teams to be bowl eligible this season, given the scheduling disparities and difficulties associated with the COVID pandemic.
Before the PAC-12 and Mountain West announced their return, the first few predictions had BYU sneaking into a PAC-12 slot in primetime bowls such as the Las Vegas Bowl, which remember, got a promotion as it is now a PAC-12 versus Big 10/SEC game at the brand new, gaudy Allegiant Stadium.
Now, things get a bit murkier with those conferences returning to action soon. Let’s take a look at some of the national pundits’ predictions for BYU’s bowl spot and offer one of my own.
Frisco Bowl vs. UAB, CBS’ Jerry Palm
Palm was the one who had BYU playing Tennessee in the Las Vegas Bowl before the PAC-12 announced its return. Now, BYU gets bumped to what would be a lesser bowl against an opponent that is pretty much on par with who BYU has played in the last two games. The Alabama-Birmingham Blazers are 2-1 thus far this season, as they bounced back from losing to red-hot Miami (FL) to blow out South Alabama 42-10. The Cougars have never faced off against this foe from the CUSA. They would play in Frisco, Texas, at the site of the FCS National Championship.
Cotton Bowl vs. Oklahoma, CollegeFootballNews.com
Of course, this is my personal favorite. This is a testament to how wildly unpredictable this bowl season will be. This game would contain tons of storylines. First, the Cotton Bowl is played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, home of the Dallas Cowboys. BYU has a bit of history there, as they played the first ever regular season football game in “Jerry World,” defeating who? Oh yeah, Oklahoma, who was ranked No. 3 at the time. The history does not end there as the two squads faced off in the Copper Bowl in 1994, with BYU winning that matchup as well. Thus, BYU is undefeated against OU in two contests. BYU also lost to TCU in 2011 in that building when the Horned Frogs were in the midst of a 11-2 season. The Sooners continue to be one of the premier programs in college football, but they are fresh off of an upset by Kansas State which may have already cost them a shot at the College Football Playoff.
My prediction-Independence Bowl vs. Army
Yes, this is a chance for BYU to right the ship with Army and get these two teams on the field. After the disappointing postponement of their matchup two weeks ago, it seemed like there was a desire to reschedule but nothing has materialized. Perhaps they let fate decide and get paired in a bowl game. In their new media rights deal with ESPN, the Cougars announced they will play in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana in 2021, 2023, and 2025. Why not start a year early and play what could be a highly ranked Black Knights squad?
The bowl predictions are scattered all over the place with the fresh news of conferences re-entering the fold. ESPN announced their full slate of bowl predictions will return after next weekend’s games. Tune back in next week for more extensive bowl predictions.