KSL UNRIVALED

Will BYU, Utah Be Motivated For Its Bowl Games?

Dec 23, 2019, 4:00 PM
Utah running back Zack Moss (2) heads upfield during the Utah-BYU football game at LaVell Edwards S...
Utah running back Zack Moss (2) heads upfield during the Utah-BYU football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)
(Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Bowl season is here and usually, it is a time to celebrate and look forward to one more game. But Utah and BYU are not really in the celebrating mood. That goes more for the Utes who had a chance at the College Football Playoff but saw that and its Rose Bowl berth disappear by losing to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game.

Utah dropped to the Pac-12’s second bowl slot and playing in the Alamo Bowl is not all that bad but they are playing a mediocre 7-5 Texas team. Comparing that to what was possible in a playoff matchup or playing No. 8 Wisconsin makes this New Year’s Eve bowl game seem like a massive disappointment.

As for BYU, they did lose their final game of the year to San Diego State which featured a poor showing in the 13-3 loss, so there is some redemption on the line by playing former WAC member Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.

Of the two teams, on the surface, the Cougars seem to be more motivated than the Utes as BYU can use its bowl game to springboard into 2020 with some confidence and in a similar fashion to last year’s bowl game which saw Zach Wilson go a perfect 18-for-18 passing the ball.

What Will Get Utah Players Excited About The Alamo Bowl?

Playing a brand name like the Texas Longhorns does help in getting players excited about this game and even though the Longhorns won just seven games, a dominant win by the Utes will be perceived as a solid win by the national media just because they beat a bunch of players who happen to be wearing burnt orange jersey’s.

Skipping bowl games is a trend that has popped up over the past few years and the Utes are only going to have one player sit the bowl game and that is defensive back Jaylon Johnson. No one would blame him for getting ready for the NFL Draft by playing in a glorified exhibition. That is why it is fairly shocking that running back Zack Moss, Bradlee Anae and other seniors are going to finish the season out strong.

“Any other year the Alamo Bowl would be awesome, playing Texas it would be awesome, but this feel likes a very consolation type prize,” KSL Sports’ Alex Kirry said.

KSL Sports’ Scott Mitchell played at the University of Utah and never went to a bowl game during his tenure. He feels making the postseason should be celebrated, even if the particular bowl game was not what everyone was hoping for.

“I think there is something we are overlooking. There needs to be a celebration to the point of being in a bowl game,” Mitchell said. “I say that because a friend of mine who went to college together and we played football together at Utah. We talked about how we never got to go to a bowl game.”

“I know there are a lot of bowl games and we make fun of some of these names of the bowl games, who cares,” Mitchell continued. “You are at the bowl game and you did enough to have a post-season celebration. There really needs to be an element of this to appreciate and celebrate that you are in a bowl game.”

This Alamo Bowl will be the last time that a lot of these seniors will ever suit up and play football ever again. This is not to say that the game needs to be won for the seniors but those players who have been on this team for four or five years have one last chance to represent the red and white for Utah and that is a big deal for them.

“There are a lot of things that you can celebrate and appreciate. It is always about the seniors,” Mitchell added. “It is always about the players that have spent the most time and the ones who have given their all to the program and it is kind of their graduation.”

A win over Texas will be a good way to end the season and get some momentum for the players coming back next year and that is how you get fans excited for this game.

Will BYU Be Hyped To Play A Former WAC Rival?

The Cougars have already equaled its win total from 2018 so a win over Hawaii would give BYU eight wins and improve upon last year’s season. Also, BYU gets another chance to see the quarterback play, specifically with Wilson, to see if he is the guy going forward.

All signs point to yes but Baylor Romney has played quite well to at the very least be in the conversation to maybe peel away some snaps and possibly make the case to be BYU’s starting quarterback.

BYU can definitely get everyone excited about the Hawaii Bowl and use last year’s performance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to go into 2020 on a high note.

“The BYU performance in the Idaho Potato Bowl… that was a huge moment. What they did in the offseason is that they springboarded off of Zach Wilson’s performance, they springboarded off of the fact that they had all of these guys coming back,” Kirry said. “They took advantage of ending the season at 7-6 instead of 6-7, and that was a bid deal for them.”

The Hawaii Bowl could scare BYU fans because they are playing Hawaii who is at home. Plus, it is a week of being in a tropical location having fun and there are a lot of obligations doing good charity work. Whereas the Warriors are already there and in their home environment and that could be a concern of being balanced and taking care of business in the bowl game.

Plus, this Warriors offense is a high-scoring attack that will throw the ball a lot and test this Cougars defense and secondary.

However, this type of game can be a building block game for 2020 as well as a way to send out those playing their final game on a high note.

“It is an opportunity for some of these younger players. If you are building a culture like Kalani Sitake that is what he needs to emphasize by saying, ‘we got to a bowl game and we got these people who have been through some tough seasons, we have been through some tough losses, and been through some amazing wins,” Kirry said. “No matter for the rest of your life you will always be a Cougar and you will have to celebrate these moments.'”

Playing in a bowl game should always be celebrated even if it is just playing one more college football game because for some it will be their last. Whoever is playing and it what bowl game each of these teams will be ready to go to finish the season on a strong note.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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