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Laying Out BYU’s Unlikely—But Possible—Path to a NY6 Bowl Bid

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 02 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Oregon v Iowa State Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The College Football Playoff Committee released its newest rankings Tuesday night and BYU checked in at 12, up one spot from last week. If the season ended today, BYU would likely be one spot out of a New Year’s six bowl right behind #11 Michigan State.

With just conference championship weekend remaining, does BYU have a shot at a NY6 bowl? Yes, but it’s unlikely. Below is what would need to happen.

First, remember the following automatic bids for conferences. Some of these will come in handy later:

  • Big 12 and SEC to the Sugar Bowl
  • Pac-12 and Big Ten to the Rose Bowl
  • ACC automatic qualifier, no specific bowl
  • Highest ranked Group of 5 champ automatic qualifier, no specific bowl

BYU needs to have A LOT to break its way and then the committee to vote favorably towards BYU when the final rankings come out Sunday. Here we go.

  1. #4 Cincinnati beats #21 Houston. BYU needs Cincinnati to be in the College Football Playoff. Cincinnati would be the highest ranked Group of 5 champion and get an automatic bid to a NY6 bowl. If they get in the 4-team CFP, however, the other NY6 bowls would not have an automatic qualifier from the G5, which opens up one at-large bid.
  2. #2 Michigan beats #13 Iowa. BYU can’t have Iowa steal a bid. Michigan needs to beat them to keep Iowa away from the NY6. Easy enough.
  3. #3 Alabama beats #1 Georgia. This will make more sense in the next point, but BYU needs Cincinnati to be in the CFP and Oklahoma State to be out. If Alabama and Michigan win, you can pencil those two plus Georgia into 3 of your 4 CFP spots. That would leave the final spot between Cincinnati and Oklahoma State.
  4. #5 Oklahoma State beats #9 Baylor — Ok State remains at 5, Baylor drops below BYU. Oklahoma State is favored to beat Baylor, but BYU would need the committee’s help if that ends up happening. First, Oklahoma State needs to be outside of the top 5. Why is that? Go back to my previous bullet points and see that the Big 12 is guaranteed a spot in the Sugar Bowl. If Oklahoma State is #5 behind Michigan, Alabama, Cincinnati, and Georgia, then OSU would go to the Sugar Bowl.

In that case, BYU would then need to hope that the committee drops a 3-loss Baylor below BYU. That is far from a guarantee since Baylor beat BYU head-to-head and the committee may not punish the Bears for losing a conference title game, but that’s what BYU needs to hope for! If Oklahoma State leapfrogged Cincinnati or Alabama into the CFP, then it wouldn’t matter if Baylor is ranked below BYU — they would get the Big 12’s automatic bid into the Sugar bowl.

5. If alllll those things happened, it wouldn’t hurt BYU to have Utah beat Oregon in the Pac-12 title game and Utah State beat San Diego State in the MWC title game. Those would boost BYU’s SOS/resume and give BYU some ammo to jump Baylor, or maybe the committee would get crazy and decide to jump BYU over Michigan State even though both teams are idle this week.

Again, this is not likely to happen! But it’s at least something to watch and cheer for during conference championship weekend.