Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays on the calendar. It’s a time where everyone gathers in an attitude of gratitude, feasts on delicious food, and consumes lots and lots of football.
Are you in need of a guide through the buffet of football games that lay before you? Your football watching plate will be fuller than after your first pass through the line with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. I am here to help you navigate through this weekend of action-packed football through the eyes of a BYU fan and what would games and outcomes would benefit BYU football this year.
BYU vs. USC, 10:30pm ET, Saturday- ESPN
Let’s get this out of the way. Root for BYU against USC, obviously. A 10-2 record and with the College Football Playoff committee ranking the Cougars at No. 13 in the latest list has BYU thinking New Year’s Six Bowl, as long as they get some help. They need to beat USC or this entire article is basically moot.
The remainder of the games are in chronological order.
The Egg Bowl always guarantees entertainment. If you get bored of the NFL games on Thanksgiving Day, you have this lovely matchup to hopefully match the hype of football on Turkey Day. BYU alum Mike Leach could do his alma mater a favor by leading the Bulldogs past OIe Miss. Even though BYU does not stand to take the Rebels’ spot in the Sugar Bowl should they lose, this is an opportunity for BYU to leapfrog and get closer to No. 12, where they need to be to even be considered for a NY6 bowl. Plus, the over/under in this game is a gaudy 64 points. This will be an entertaining game with two of the biggest personalities in college coaching at the moment in Leach and Ole Miss head man Lane Kiffin.
Boise State at No. 21 San Diego State, 12pm ET, Friday- CBS
The Broncos and Aztecs face off in Southern California in a shockingly early slot for the West Coast. Boise State spoiled BYU’s party earlier this season. If they were to knock off a ranked SDSU team on the road, it would certainly help BYU’s strength of schedule and maybe help Cougar fans digest that loss a little better. This is a matchup of BYU’s secondary rivals who the Cougars may soon put in the rearview mirror for the foreseeable future as they enter the Big 12 era.
No. 4 Cincinnati at East Carolina, 3:30pm ET, Friday- ABC
Normally, BYU would be rooting for any ranked team ahead of them to lose. This is a special exception. Cincinnati making the College Football Playoff would open up an extra at-large spot among the New Year’s Six bowls. Cincy needs to win out and win with style to ensure their place in the top four. If they fall out of the playoff conversation, BYU’s NY6 hopes may be on life support. Go Bearcats.
Colorado at No. 19 Utah, 4pm ET, Friday- FOX
The marginal returns BYU would get regarding their strength of schedule with a Utah win here does not outweigh the idea of wanting Utah to win anything. Under no circumstance will I tell anyone to root for Utah. Hate-watch, if you like.
Washington State at Washington, 8pm ET, Friday- FS1
Here is one red team from the PAC-12 worth rooting for. BYU can sympathize with the WAZZU Cougars, who have not beaten their haughty rivals since 2012 and only once since 2008. BYU exorcised their own rivalry demons this year by finally beating Utah. Plus, one Cougar squad can help out another if WAZZU beats a hapless Huskies squad, thus boosting BYU’s strength of schedule, as the Cougars in blue beat the Crimson Cougs last month.
No. 2 Ohio State at No. 5 Michigan, 12pm ET, Saturday- FOX
It’s tough to say if either of these teams would drop below BYU following a loss, more so for the Buckeyes. The best result for BYU would be Ohio State thrashing the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. That might be the only way the Cougars leapfrog the loser of The Game. Michigan winning this game basically ensures both of these teams will earn, at worst, a NY6 bowl bid, with the other likely heading to the Playoff. Plus, if you just want to watch some great football, this is the marquee matchup of the entire weekend on the college slate.
Texas Tech at No. 8 Baylor, 12pm ET, Saturday- FS1
This is a tricky one for BYU fans. Do you want Baylor to win to validate that loss the Cougars took in Waco? Or do you want Baylor to lose, weakening the strength of schedule while also having a chance to jump over them? It might be all or nothing. If Baylor wins out, including the Big 12 title game, that can only help BYU. Their strength of schedule will get an enormous boost plus that will mean Baylor likely knocked the Big 12 out of the College Football Playoff picture and maybe even other NY6 bids. If Baylor beats the Red Raiders, they need to win out. Otherwise, get out of the way, Bears.
No. 3 Alabama at Auburn, 3:30pm ET, Saturday- CBS
The Iron Bowl almost never disappoints from an entertainment standpoint. Auburn beating Alabama would be a colossal upset this year. So much so, in fact, that it would knock the Crimson Tide out of the Playoff picture. This, along with Cincinnati winning out, would ensure the Bearcats make the CFP as the SEC would only have one slot. Again, Cincy making the playoff is the single most important thing for BYU’s NY6 hopes. Root for anything that could also help Cincy.
Oregon State at No. 11 Oregon, 3:30pm ET, Saturday- ESPN
Since the old name for this game is done away with, my vote is the “Platypus Cup” since a platypus is basically some kind of mix between a beaver and a duck. Either way, BYU should root for a big upset by the Beavs. Let’s be clear, BYU cannot take the PAC-12’s Rose Bowl slot, no matter how many times we tweet about BYU dominating that conference this season. The Rose Bowl is contractually obligated to take a team from the “Conference of Champions.” The rooting interest here is that Oregon would fall under BYU and then if they were to lose to Utah in the PAC-12 title game, they wouldn’t have a soft landing as an at-large for a NY6 bowl. It needs to be Rose Bowl or bust for the PAC-12 to aid BYU.
Penn State at No. 12 Michigan State, 3:30pm ET, Saturday- ABC
This one is pretty clear. The Spartans stand directly in the way of the Cougars, one slot ahead in the CFP rankings. If BYU wants a shot at an at-large bid, they need chaos ahead of them. The Nittany Lions could do BYU a huge solid this week by beating Michigan State.
Virginia Tech at Virginia, 3:45pm ET, Saturday- ACC Network
This is simple- root for Virginia to beat their bitter rivals to boost BYU’s strength of schedule. Plus, Bronco Mendenhall deserves to win when he isn’t playing BYU.
Arizona at Arizona State, 4pm ET, Saturday- PAC 12 Network
BYU beat both the Wildcats and Sun Devils this season. ASU is a better team, clearly. If BYU is to gain anything by this game, it will be by ASU handily beating Arizona and moving to 8-4, displaying that the Cougars beat a solid, eight-win team.
No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 7 Oklahoma State, 7:30pm ET, Saturday- ABC
BYU fans should be paying very close attention to Bedlam this weekend. Since both teams rank ahead of the Cougars as of now, it’s best if the lower ranked team loses, thus giving BYU a better chance at a leapfrog situation. Plus, Oklahoma State winning may lead to Baylor playing in the Big 12 title game, a BYU opponent this year. BYU needs Oklahoma to drop and drop far.
No. 6 Notre Dame at Stanford, 8pm ET, Saturday- FOX
This game might be over before halftime. However, BYU should hold out a little hope for a massive upset by the Cardinal. With how lousy Stanford has looked lately, if they were to somehow beat the Irish, that might drag Notre Dame below BYU with an ugly loss.