BYU Football Bowl Projections After Strong Start To First Big 12 Season

Sep 19, 2023, 12:49 PM

PROVO, Utah – BYU football jumping out to a 3-0 start has the Cougars in the thick of the bowl projections conversation in the 2023 season.

Being in the Big 12 Conference gives BYU many more options for postseason play than as an Independent.

Nearly every bowl game with a tie-in to the Big 12 in 2023 would be against a team from a Power Five conference. BYU hasn’t faced a P5 opponent in a bowl game since Utah in the 2015 Las Vegas Bowl.

Order of Big 12 Bowl Tie-ins for the 2023 season

  • College Football Playoff (if selected)
  • New Year’s Six
  • Alamo Bowl
  • Pop-Tarts Bowl
  • Texas Bowl
  • Liberty Bowl
  • Guaranteed Rate Bowl
  • Armed Forces/First Responder Bowls
  • Independence Bowl

My BYU Bowl projection entering week four: Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs. Rutgers

If Texas goes to the College Football Playoff, the Guaranteed Rate Bowl would be the seventh selection for a Big 12 team. That’s a reasonable spot for BYU.

BYU would be an attractive option for the Guaranteed Rate Bowl because the Cougars would sell many tickets. The game is in Arizona, which has a lot of Latter-day Saint BYU fans in the area.

Also, the date is tricky as it lands on December 26th, the day after Christmas. So, having a pool of fans who live in the area might help BYU’s odds of going to Arizona.

The Guaranteed Rate Bowl had a secondary bowl tie-in with BYU, while the Cougars were an Independent.

National Outlets project where BYU football fits in Bowl Season

Action Network: Liberty Bowl vs. Tennessee

College Football News: Liberty Bowl vs. Tennessee

This would be a fun matchup for a variety of reasons. The biggest is that Tennessee bought out of the opener against BYU in Provo to play Virginia in nearby Nashville instead.

Tennessee looked shaky after losing to an underwhelming Florida team last week in The Swamp.

USA Today: Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs. Nebraska

A potential rematch of the 2015 Miracle at Memorial. Getting to a bowl game would be an accomplishment for both the Cougars and Huskers this year.

CBS Sports: Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs. Purdue

I’m not seeing how Purdue gets bowl-eligible with their league schedule after they started 1-2 in non-conference.

ESPN Mark Schlabach: Hawaii Bowl vs. Boise State

Did Schlabach forget BYU football is no longer an Independent?

ESPN Kyle Bonagura: TaxAct Texas Bowl vs. Kentucky

Bleacher Report: Liberty Bowl vs. Kentucky

BYU has never faced Kentucky in football. They’ve also never played an SEC team in a bowl game before.

Athlon Sports: Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs. Maryland

It would be a first-time matchup. The only historical crossover I can think of between these two programs is that former BYU head coach Gary Crowton was once the OC at Maryland for a season.

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 Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Football Bowl Projections After Strong Start To First Big 12 Season