BYU/UCF Has Potential To Be Best Bowl Game Outside Of College Football Playoff

Dec 21, 2020, 11:54 PM
BYU - UCF - Kalani Sitake - Josh Heupel...
BYU Kalani Sitake and UCF coach Josh Heupel square off for the first time in the Boca Raton Bowl. (Photos courtesy of Getty Images)
(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

BOCA RATON, Florida – BYU versus UCF in the Boca Raton Bowl (Today, 5 p.m. MT on ESPN), a pre-Christmas bowl game, on the surface, would look to be underwhelming. But this game has the makings to be the best of an underwhelming bowl slate outside of the College Football Playoff.

Yahoo! Sports ranked this Boca Raton Bowl matchup as the fifth-best game in the bowl season. There’s a lot to like about this matchup, and it starts with the star power at quarterback.

BYU and UCF each boast a star quarterback who is up for national recognition this season. Both signal-callers have passed for 30 touchdowns and have only combined for seven interceptions total this season.

Each team is averaging over 40 points this season, with BYU scoring 43.0 per game, while the Knights are slightly better at 44.3 points per game.

Expect an entertaining game between BYU & UCF

The most points ever scored in a BYU bowl game was four years ago in BYU’s last bowl game in the state of Florida against Memphis, when both teams scored 101 points total. This Boca Raton Bowl could pass up that BYU bowl record.

This is is also a matchup that can show great football is played outside of the Power 5 conferences. 2020 has shown more than ever that brands matter more than actual results in this sport we all love. Football outside the power conferences is disrespected, but both BYU and UCF are winning brands of football. BYU is one of the 10 winningest teams in college football in the last 50 years, and UCF has won 41 of their last 48 games.

No Power 5 bias is needed; good football will be played on Tuesday down in Boca.

With many teams opting out of bowl games, it’s been refreshing to see BYU and UCF take on the challenge of playing this game and embracing it. Both teams will have the chance to capture the entire college football audience in primetime.

Best bowl outside of the Playoff?

This game, despite being a glorified made-for-TV event, should be a good football game. Maybe the best bowl game we see until the Playoff. Even then, the Playoff might not produce any classics with a team like Alabama favored by more than three touchdowns against Notre Dame.

NFL Draft prospects will be dotted throughout this game, starting with Wilson, who could be playing in his last game as a BYU Cougar. Wilson is rising NFL Draft boards, to the point where there are pockets of the Draftnik community that would say Wilson should be selected before Ohio State’s Justin Fields.

Along with Wilson, BYU has left tackle Brady Christensen, a First Team All-American by Pro Football Focus. Christensen has graded out as the best tackle in the history of PFF’s ratings, above Oregon’s Penei Sewell last year.

UCF RB Otis Anderson is a player to keep an eye on for the Knights. He has an undisclosed injury and is currently questionable for Tuesday’s game. But if healthy, he could be an NFL Draft pick next April. Had UCF wide receiver Marlon Williams not opted out, he would’ve been another big prospect in this game.

Enjoy this game. It might be one of the only great matchups this Bowl Season produces during the holidays. It has all the makings to be an instant classic.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.

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BYU/UCF Has Potential To Be Best Bowl Game Outside Of College Football Playoff