BYU Football Bowl Projections Heading Into Selection Sunday

Dec 5, 2021, 2:00 AM | Updated: 2:13 am
BYU Football - UTSA - Lopini Katoa...
Brigham Young Cougars running back Lopini Katoa (4) runs the ball in for a touchdown, putting the Cougars up 14-3 over the UTSA Roadrunners after the PAT, at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – Where will BYU football be playing in their bowl game for the 2021 season? We will officially find out later today on Selection Sunday.

Keep in mind, BYU is contracted to play in the Independence Bowl unless they receive an at-large bid to play in a New Years Six bowl game. BYU also has a secondary tie-in with the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

We’ll cover all of that in this article.

Here are some notes on BYU’s possible bowl destination that you should know heading into Selection Sunday.

Will BYU Football earn a New Year’s Six bid?

The short answer is that it’s doubtful BYU lands in the New Year’s Six. Two things caused BYU to come up short, Michigan State beating Penn State in the final week of the regular season and Oklahoma State losing to Baylor in the Big 12 Championship game.

BYU entered Championship Week at No. 12 in the College Football Playoff rankings. They need to jump either Michigan State or Oklahoma State to find a way towards an at-large NY6 spot. Future Big 12 foe Oklahoma State isn’t dropping from No. 5 to below BYU after a close loss in the Big 12 Championship to Baylor. So I’ll save you the time there.

With Michigan State, the Spartans are one of only three teams in the country to say they have a win over a projected Playoff team (Michigan). Also, the Big Ten is respected by this year’s committee. After a week of both BYU and Sparty not playing, what gives the Cougars a jump?

You can create a lot of stats and data that make a compelling argument for BYU. Some BYU fans have gone through the trouble of doing that. But when you get down to it, the Spartans have a better win than BYU and they played ten Power Fives to the Cougars seven.

BYU being mathematically in the mix for a possible New Year’s Six bowl heading into Selection Sunday is the reason you haven’t heard a typical “We’ve accepted our bowl invite to this game.” Two years ago, when BYU was a 6-4 team, they had no chance at the NY6; they knew it was Hawaii Bowl or bust, so why not announce the occasion in front of fans? This year it’s obviously different.

Here are my NY6 projections.

Playoff: (1) Alabama vs. (4) Cincinnati

Playoff: (2) Michigan vs. (3) Georgia

Sugar: Ole Miss (SEC) vs. Baylor (Big 12)

Rose: Ohio State (Big Ten) vs. Utah (Pac-12)

Fiesta: Michigan State (At-Large) vs. Oklahoma State (At-Large)

Peach: Notre Dame (At-Large) vs. Pitt (ACC)

What about the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Arizona?

The Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Arizona features BYU football as a secondary tie-in if one of the main tie-ins for their bowl is not filled. This year, those primary tie-ins are from the Big 12 and the Big Ten.

According to BYU’s press release in 2020 when announcing their current TV deal with ESPN, “the Cougars also have an option to potentially participate in the [Guaranteed Rate Bowl] in Arizona should its conference tie-ins (Big Ten and Big 12) be unable to provide an opponent.”

The Big 12 has seven bowl tie-ins in their conference. Baylor will go to the Sugar Bowl as the Big 12 Conference Champion, and it’s assumed Oklahoma State will secure an at-large, potentially leaving an open spot from BYU’s future league home.

The problem is that the SEC has teams like LSU or Florida with no bowl landing spot floating around. One of those programs could scoop up a bid. SEC has 10 bowl tie-ins and 13 teams in that league are bowl eligible (assuming two to CFP, Ole Miss to Sugar, nine tie-ins to fill, one team left without a tie-in).

Big Ten has eight bowl tie-ins and nine bowl-eligible teams. Assuming Michigan to the Playoff and MSU to NY6 At-Large, there would be one bowl tie-in from the Big Ten that could potentially be open. However, many national projections lean towards the Big Ten not filling the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit.

Then there’s the Independence Bowl

To make everything easy, BYU can slide into the Independence Bowl on the first Saturday of the Bowl Season against a Conference-USA opponent. The Cougars are already contracted to play in the game.

Members of the media who cover BYU received an e-mail on Friday, December 3, to apply for credentials to the bowl game. But that wasn’t an unofficial way of the Indy Bowl saying BYU is officially in their game. Since August, BYU football beat writers have been on the Independence Bowl e-mail list. Trust me; I’ve seen the weekly e-mail newsletters. I feel like a Shreveport expert already, and I’ve never made a trip to the town. Looks like a lovely city.

BYU Bowl Projections on Selection Sunday

My projection: Independence vs. UTSA

CBS SportsIndependence vs. UAB

247SportsIndependence vs. UAB

College Football News: Independence vs. UTSA

Brett McMurphy: Independence vs. UTSA

Bleacher ReportIndependence vs. UTSA

On3: Independence vs. UAB

Stewart Mandel: Independence vs. UTSA

ESPN (Kyle Bonagura): Independence vs. UTSA

ESPN (Mark Schlabach): Independence vs. LSU

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.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Football Bowl Projections Heading Into Selection Sunday