Having officially reached the back end of the college football season, all of the state’s FBS programs — Utah, BYU and Utah State — have reached six wins needed for bowl eligibility.
Here are my projections for where the three teams will end up for some postseason fun, with a trophy on the line to cap off their 2021 seasons.
After a 45-point win on Senior Day over FCS Idaho State, the Cougars improved to 8-2 on the year and sit inside the top 15 in all three major polls — No. 14 in the AP and CFP rankings, and No. 15th in the Coaches Poll.
Having clinched a bowl invite three weeks ago, BYU has posted an impressive 5-1 record against Power 5 conference opponents, highlighted by a win over rival Utah that ended a nine-game losing skid to the Utes.
The Cougars are contractually locked into the Independence Bowl, and that’s where they’re projected to go after suffering two losses this year. But if things go their way, the Cougars do have an outside shot at reaching a New Year’s Six bowl.
Projection: Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl
Date: Saturday, December 18
Location: Independence Stadium – Shreveport, LA
Time and channel: 1:30 p.m. MT, ABC
Coming from behind to win has been the Aggies’ bread and butter during the 2021 season. Falling in an early 10-0 hole against the New Mexico State Aggies, Utah State came back to win 35-13 and improve its record to 7-2.
Currently sitting at 4-1 in Mountain West play, the Aggies are atop the Mountain Division and are favored by ESPN FPI in their remaining three games. Win out and they will have a 10-win season and division title under their belt, with a date in the Mountain West Championship against the West Division winner up next.
Even if they can’t finish atop the division, a bowl game under first-year head coach Blake Anderson is a big step forward after a disastrous 2020.
Projection: Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl
Opponent: Kent State
Date: Friday, December 31
Location: Arizona Stadium – Tucson, AZ
Time and channel: 12 p.m. MT, TV TBD
With a blowout win over Stanford on Friday night, the Utes improved to 6-3, clinching a spot in a bowl game. The win also put them in the national rankings, debuting at No. 24 in the College Football Playoff poll.
With a 5-1 record in Pac-12 play and holding the head-to-head tiebreakers over UCLA, Arizona State, and USC, the Utes sit atop the Pac-12 South Division. Winning even just two of their final three games would give them a division title and trip to the Pac-12 title game.
Winning the Pac-12 is still a possibility, and a conference championship would send the Utes to their first-ever Rose Bowl. They will likely play Oregon for a shot at the Pac-12 title, but get the chance to matchup against the Ducks on November 20 in Salt Lake City first.
Projection: Rose Bowl
Opponent: Michigan State
Date: Saturday, January 1
Location: Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA
Time and channel: 3 p.m. MT, ESPN