Bowl projections: How No. 13 BYU can earn a New Year's Six bowl berth

Nick Bromberg
·4-min read

We see a path for BYU to make it to a New Year’s Six bowl game.

The Cougars moved up one spot from No. 14 to No. 13 in Tuesday’s second edition of the 2020 College Football Playoff rankings. That’s two spots below where BYU needs to be to get a spot in a prestigious bowl game.

But BYU can make up those spots and maybe one or two more. Especially if it beats Coastal Carolina in a game that was hastily scheduled on Thursday.

The Cougars are currently behind No. 9 Iowa State, No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 12 Indiana. Let’s start with the Hoosiers, who play at No. 16 Wisconsin on Saturday without QB Michael Penix Jr. after he tore his ACL in the team’s win over Maryland. A loss at Wisconsin will undoubtedly drop Indiana behind BYU in next week’s rankings. There’s one spot.

The other could come via the Big 12 title game, where ISU and OU are likely to play each other. The loser of that game will have three losses. BYU, with wins over Coastal and San Diego State, will be undefeated.

In that circumstance, it’s hard to see how the committee could keep a three-loss Big 12 team ahead of the Cougars — even if the committee is insistent that BYU’s pandemic-induced schedule is a real detriment to its New Year’s Six hopes.

If BYU leaps the Big 12 loser and Indiana, it will be at No. 11 in the final CFP rankings on Dec. 20. With the Pac-12 champion potentially outside the top 12, that should be enough for BYU to get an at-large berth into a big bowl game. And right now, we’re thinking that would be the Fiesta Bowl.

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (1) congratulates running back Tyler Allgeier (25) after his first quarter touchdown against North Alabama during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Jeff Swinger, Pool)
Can BYU move up a couple spots to get into position for a New Year's Six bowl? (AP Photo/Jeff Swinger, Pool)

How projecting bowls is different in 2020

It’s a bit of a crapshoot doing bowl projections this year. The Sun Bowl became the eighth bowl to be canceled when it announced Tuesday that it wouldn’t be held for the first time since 1935. As of now, there are 34 bowl games still scheduled for 2020-21.

Teams don’t have to get to six wins to make a bowl game either. The NCAA waived the win requirement ahead of the season when it became obvious that teams weren’t going to be playing full 12-game seasons. That lack of a win requirement coupled with the varying number of games that teams are playing doesn’t make the bowl selection process nearly as straightforward as it normally would be.

That’s why you’re seeing teams like LSU and Tennessee in the projections below. They’re going to finish with losing records in 2020. But the SEC has bowl contracts to fill and the removal of the win requirement allows the conference to fill its allotted slots.

There aren’t that many Pac-12 teams listed below either. The conference has taken the brunt of the bowl cancellation hit with the Las Vegas Bowl, Redbox Bowl, Sun Bowl and Holiday Bowl all getting wiped out from the conference’s lineup.

Here are our first set of bowl projections. These could change a lot over the next two weeks as we potentially get more clarity into this year’s bowl process.

Dec. 19

Frisco Bowl

SMU vs. UTSA

Dec. 21

Myrtle Beach Bowl

UCF vs. Appalachian State

Dec. 22

Potato Bowl

Buffalo vs. Boise State

Boca Raton Bowl

Florida Atlantic vs. Kent State

Dec. 23

New Orleans Bowl

Coastal Carolina vs. Marshall

Montgomery Bowl

San Diego State vs. Louisiana Tech

Dec. 24

New Mexico Bowl

Tulsa vs. Louisiana

Dec. 25

Camellia Bowl

Western Michigan vs. Troy

Dec. 26

Gasparilla Bowl

Memphis vs. Wake Forest

Cure Bowl

Georgia Southern vs. Tulane

First Responder Bowl

Pitt vs. TCU

LendingTree Bowl

Ball State vs. Georgia State

Independence Bowl

Colorado vs. Army

Guaranteed Rate Bowl

Maryland vs. Kansas State

Dec. 28

Military Bowl

Boston College vs. Houston

Dec. 29

Cheez-It Bowl

North Carolina vs. Texas

Alamo Bowl

Iowa State vs. Oregon

Dec. 30

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Virginia vs. Iowa

Music City Bowl

Indiana vs. Kentucky

Cotton Bowl (New Year’s Six)

Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma

LA Bowl

Washington vs. San Jose State

Dec. 31

Armed Forces Bowl

UAB vs. North Texas

Liberty Bowl

West Virginia vs. Tennessee

Arizona Bowl

Central Michigan vs. Fresno State

Texas Bowl

Oklahoma State vs. LSU

Jan. 1

Birmingham Bowl

Liberty vs. Nevada

Peach Bowl (New Year’s Six)

Georgia vs. Cincinnati

Citrus Bowl

Northwestern vs. Auburn

Rose Bowl (CFP semifinal)

Clemson vs. Ohio State

Sugar Bowl (CFP semifinal)

Alabama vs. Notre Dame

Jan. 2

Gator Bowl

North Carolina State vs. Ole Miss

Outback Bowl

Wisconsin vs. Missouri

Fiesta Bowl (New Year’s Six)

USC vs. BYU

Orange Bowl (New Year’s Six)

Florida vs. Miami

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