BYU will know their bowl destination next Sunday, December 4, following this weekend’s run of conference championship games.
The projections are all over the place. For the final season of independence, BYU is essentially a bowl “free agent,” to any ESPN-driven bowl game without a conference tie.
Thus, various sites have a smörgåsbord of bowl possibilities.
New Mexico Bowl vs. Air Force (Sporting News)
Air Force is one of the only former conference mates of BYU to not have played the Cougars since they went independent. The two sides have not played since their last conference meeting in 2010, an Air Force victory. More veteran BYU fans would welcome another chance to beat the Air Force Academy.
On a fun side note, the New Mexico Bowl was the last game BYU ever played as a Mountain West team in 2010. It would be fitting, or ironic, to have this independent era end with the same bowl game.
Cure Bowl vs. Coastal Carolina (The Athletic)
LendingTree Bowl vs. Coastal Carolina (ESPN)
Two sites have BYU playing a recently-made rival, in two different settings. For most, if not all BYU fans, just seeing the Coastal Carolina logo or that whatever shade of green their turf is, the blood pressure spikes. The rallying cry on the BYU side would be cold-blooded revenge. Not that a win against the Chanticleers in a ho-hum bowl would erase the painful memory of them knocking off an undefeated BYU and likely costing them a trip to a New Year’s Six bowl in 2020. The storylines write themselves.
Quick Lane Bowl vs. Ohio (Athlon Sports)
As a 7-5 independent team, BYU is a beggar that can hardly be a chooser. Yes, a post-Christmas bowl in Detroit is not sexy. Playing the Ohio Bobcats, even less so. At the very least, the Cougars could check off another program they have faced.
Is it worth anything that two major sport sites have BYU playing future Big 12 mate Kansas? This certainly would be the most intriguing of the possible matchups listed for the fans, as the lone Power 5 opponent. Of course, this is all purely projection. However, let’s indulge this.
Kansas was one of the early-season feel-good stories around the sport, jumping out to a 5-0 record and being ranked as high as 19th. This will be their first bowl game since 2008. Let’s face it, most of America would be rooting for the Jayhawks in this scenario. But that’s just it, this game would have national interest, unlike, say, BYU against Air Force in New Mexico. This would be in one of the biggest cities in America, Dallas, on the campus of SMU.
This is another matchup ripe with storylines. One of the top stories of the 2022 season against one of the prominent international brands in college football. Plus, this would be a perfect way to usher in the Big 12 era, facing off against a Kansas program that has called that conference home since before World War II. Getting this bowl would be a huge, lucky break for this BYU squad. Don’t hold your breath.
New Mexico Bowl vs. Air Force
On Coordinators' Corner Aaron Roderick said BYU is hearing that three weeks from Saturday (December 17th) is most likely the bowl game date.— Jarom Jordan (@jaromjordan) November 28, 2022
That will likely be Frisco, LendingTree or New Mexico Bowl.
This update is telling. If this report is true, BYU’s possibilities are limited to just a few bowls during the first weekend of bowl season.
This game actually makes some sense. It’s a somewhat easy drive or short flight for the team, reducing the costs. It’s at over 4,500 feet elevation, which is something the Cougars are used to in Provo. There are plenty of BYU fans in the Southwest. Air Force and BYU have a long, testy history. They have met 31 times, with BYU taking 24 of those contests. However, the Falcons thumped the Cougars in their last meeting 12 years ago. Although it does not have the glitz and glamor like a bowl against a Power 5 team, this would be an interesting matchup with Air Force being the top-ranked statistical defense in the country.
This bowl game would help BYU usher in the Big 12 era, much like it did during their transition from Mountain West to independence.