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College Football Insider Believes BYU Gets Worst Draw Of Bowl Season

Dec 16, 2021, 7:20 AM
College Football - BYU - Kalani Sitake...
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake going through practice as they get ready for a college football postseason game at the Independence Bowl. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

SHREVEPORT, Louisiana – The college football bowl season is about to kickoff. There are 44 bowl games this season, including the College Football Playoff and National Championship Game. As you can imagine, not all of the bowls are created equal.

No one probably realizes that more than BYU. The Cougars finished 10-2 in the regular season and were No. 13 in the final College Football Playoff rankings. One spot away from an at-large bid in a prestigious New Year’s Six bowl game.

Instead, the Cougars are gearing up to play Conference-USA’s third-place team in the UAB Blazers at the Independence Bowl. However, unlike BYU, the Blazers are not in the top 25 polls.

BYU signed a contract to play in this bowl game back in 2020 as part of their new television deal with ESPN, but there was a slimmer of hope that there could be another bowl destination. Unfortunately for BYU fans, that didn’t happen as all of the bowl tie-ins were filled, leaving Kalani Sitake’s nationally-ranked squad in Shreveport.

BYU is the highest-ranked team to ever play in the Independence Bowl. A distinction you typically don’t want for a bowl outside of the New Year’s Six.

College Football Insider Pete Thamel weighs in on BYU’s bowl destination

National college football insider Pete Thamel from Yahoo! Sports pointed out BYU’s postseason destination in a recent episode of the College Football Enquirer.

“Nobody gets shafted worse in the bowls than BYU,” Thamel said. “BYU finished 13th in the country and they get chucked to Shreveport for a pre-New Year’s kind of sleet fest. So they are either going to show up ornery or they are kind of just going to be unmotivated.”

BYU has been saying all of the right things leading up to Saturday’s game (1:30 p.m. MT on ABC, KSL NewsRadio). But players acknowledge there was a little bit of a letdown in not going to the New Year’s Six.

“Everybody was frustrated initially. It’s hard to work the entire season with that as one of your goals and then to get so close and come up a little bit short. It’s frustrating for sure,” said BYU wide receiver Gunner Romney. “But I think everybody has done a great job of turning that frustration into motivation. These last couple of weeks of practice have been really intense, really amped up. There have been fights breaking out because it has been so competitive. But, people are ready to go out and play another game against someone else.”

A remarkable season for BYU

Thamel believes BYU will show up and come out victorious in what should be a pretty good matchup.

“I would think with the way they’ve played and how they have played this season, and really, a remarkable season for BYU this year,” said Thamel. “They probably got more attention last year with Zach Wilson, but they played a powderpuff schedule last season. They didn’t play any Power Five teams because of Independent scheduling and such. They couldn’t play any Pac-12 teams. I mean, they went toe to toe with some really good teams this year. They have a great win over Utah.”

Thamel then went on to point out that this isn’t a good matchup for UAB as they are a “point of attack” team. Leaving him to pick BYU to come away victorious in the 2021 Independence Bowl.

No. 13 BYU vs. UAB

2021 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl

Kick: 1:30 p.m. (MT)

Location: Independence Stadium (Shreveport, Louisiana)

TV: ABC

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM — Extended pregame begins at 9 a.m.)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com 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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