After improving to 8-0 with a 51-17 blowout victory over then-No. 21 Boise State on Friday, BYU moved up one spot each in both the Associated Press and Coaches Polls to land at No. 8.
Facing its toughest test of the season, the Cougars dominated the Broncos in every facet of the game and showed the nation that it’s worthy of a Top 10 ranking. The Cougars made a national statement in the 34-point victory, which was the largest defeat for the Broncos at home in nearly two decades.
Playing on Friday night with the entire country watching, BYU’s dominating performance had writers across the country updating their bowl projections for the Cougars.
In fact, ESPN’s panel of writers updated their projections for the College Football Playoff. BYU landed in two spots with Bill Connelly and Ryan McGee having the Cougars at No. 4 and taking on No. 1 Alabama. BYU was the only team outside of Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Clemson to receive votes.
Here’s a look at all the latest bowl projections from around the country:
Fiesta Bowl: 5 projections
Orange Bowl: 1 projection
Peach Bowl: 1 projection
Armed Forces Bowl: 1 projection
Gasparilla Bowl: 1 projection
After being split on BYU’s bowl projections for much of year, both ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Kyle Bonagura have BYU facing Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. Due to the Pac-12’s late start and playing limited games, Oregon might not have enough to get into the College Football Playoff despite finishing undefeated. The conference has already cancelled two games in the first week and more could follow. If this matchup does take place, it would certainly be a Top 10 showdown between two storied programs. These two programs are also slated to face off in Eugene in 2022.
Just two weeks ago, USA TODAY had BYU playing Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl. The news outlet still has the Cougars playing in the Fiesta Bowl, however, this week, they now have BYU facing Oregon. USA TODAY had Oregon making the College Football Playoff, however, with Notre Dame upsetting Clemson, the ACC will likely get two teams in the playoff now which drops Oregon to the Fiesta bowl and pushes Wisconsin out of the picture.
If you like offense, this would be the game of the year! Both teams are led by dual-threat quarterbacks in Zach Wilson and D’Eriq King and are averaging 45.3 and 34.4 points per game so far this season. The game would also give the Cougars a chance to win their first game in the state of Florida. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of BYU knocked off then-No. 1 Miami in Provo. Both programs haven’t played since but it would be fun to see both storied programs square off on the gridiron.
The article notes that BYU and Cincinnati could have a shot at the College Football Playoff if Clemson and Florida lose again and with Notre Dame, Ohio State and Alabama winning out. It goes on to say that while the Cougars and Bearcats have looked dominant, they will most likely be on the outside looking in.
What a difference a week makes. After projecting BYU to play in the Potato Bowl for much of the season, Stadium football insider Brett McMurphy now has the Cougars taking on Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl. Obviously this would be a big disappointment for Cougar fans and players who have become the media darling this year. The Cougars have been given a lot of love, with national media talking about their playoff chances, a NY6 bowl and a quarterback in the running for the Heisman Trophy.
While making a NY6 bowl would be a great achievement for both BYU and Cincinnati, it would be a big disappointment if they had to play each other instead of being matched up with schools from “Power 5 conferences.” While the game would certainly be a Top 10 matchup, it would be a real slap in the face for both programs, just like it was when No. 4 TCU and No. 6 Boise State had to face off in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl in what was dubbed the “mid-major championship.”
This would be fun game for Cougar fans! Both teams faced off in Provo last year, with BYU defeating USC, 30-27 in overtime. The matchup would feature two high-profiled quarterbacks in BYU’s Zach Wilson and USC’s Kedon Slovis. Analysts have both quarterbacks being first round draft picks when they come out.
Here’s what 247Sports had to say about BYU’s playoff chances:
“Even if BYU finishes unbeaten, the path to the Playoff narrowed this weekend despite the blowout victory over Boise State. Why? Clemson’s loss to Notre Dame was devastating. The Cougars needed the Irish to lose to the Tigers and lose once more before the ACC final to fall out of Top 10. Kirk Herbstreit is one of BYU’s loudest supporters and points to margin of victory. But peeking at the schedule, it’s simply not good enough to get to the final four.”
Athlon Sports continues to be on the BYU hype train as they have the Cougars facing Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. As noted before, because of the shortened season in the Pac-12, Oregon faces a tough task of making the College Football Playoff. The Ducks, like BYU will need several teams in front of them to lose to have a shot. If both teams do play each other in the Fiesta Bowl, the Cougars would get to face the Pac-12 champion and would be able to make a statement against a storied program. BYU and Oregon have faced off six times, with BYU winning the latest matchup — a 38-8 win in the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl.
CBS’ Jerry Palm isn’t the most popular man in Provo these days with his bowl projections. Palm’s latest prediction has remained the same for weeks now as he has the Cougars playing in the Armed Forces Bowl. Palm goes on to say that he doesn’t see BYU being perceived to have played a strong enough schedule to merit consideration for one of those games.
Palm previously had No. 8 BYU playing No. 7 Cincinnati in the Armed Forces Bowl game, but now has BYU taking on No. 19 SMU. The last time BYU played the Armed Forces Bowl was back in 2011 when Riley Nelson threw a touchdown pass to Cody Hoffman with 11 seconds to go in the game to beat Tulsa 24-21.
After projecting BYU to face Liberty in the Gasparilla Bowl last week, Sporting News didn’t make any friends again this week as they have BYU playing Tulane in the same bowl. Obviously with all the Playoff and New Year’s Six talk from around the country, playing Tulane would be a big disappointment. Both programs first met in the 1998 Liberty Bowl, with the Green Wave winning 41-27. BYU has won their last two meetings, including a 70-35 victory at LaVell Edwards Stadium in 2001.
Last week, College Football News has BYU taking on Florida in the Orange Bowl and BYU-Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl the week before. The latest projection has the Cougars taking on USC in the Fiesta Bowl, in what would be a rematch of last year’s thrilling overtime game in Provo. It would be a fun matchup against future first round draft picks in BYU’s Zach Wilson and USC’s Kedon Slovis.