Kyle Whittingham and Bronco Mendenhall have faced each other as head coaches once during the postseason, when Utah beat BYU in the 2015 Las Vegas Bowl, Mendenhall’s last game as the Cougars’ coach.
ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura, though, is projecting that the two coaches will meet again for the first time since that day, as he predicts Utah will face Virginia in this year’s Holiday Bowl in the latest bowl projections.
Whittingham’s Utes are coming off a 42-34 loss to Oregon State last week, and were projected to go to the Rose Bowl by Bonagura in his projections the week before. The loss to the Beavers, though, created this new matchup.
Mendenhall, meanwhile, has his Virginia Cavaliers at 6-2 on the season and visiting Provo this week to face his old team, BYU. The Cavaliers have one of the most explosive offenses in the country, led by quarterback Brennan Armstrong.
Here’s a look at all the latest bowl projections for each Utah FBS team following Week 8 of the college football season:
(4-3, 3-1 in Pac-12)
- Kyle Bonagura, ESPN: Holiday Bowl, vs. Virginia.
- Mark Schlabach, ESPN: Las Vegas Bowl, vs. Minnesota.
- Jerry Palm, CBS Sports: Las Vegas Bowl, vs. Wisconsin.
- Brett McMurphy, Action Network: Sun Bowl, vs. Clemson.
- College Football News: Sun Bowl, vs. Louisville.
- Brad Crawford, 247 Sports: Holiday Bowl, vs. Clemson.
- Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports: Sun Bowl, vs. Clemson.
In addition to the intriguing Virginia matchup, Clemson is a favorite pick this week to be Utah’s bowl opponent. The Tigers, a College Football Playoff regular who’s having a bit of a down year, is projected by three different national experts to face Utah in either the Holiday Bowl or the Sun Bowl. The Sun Bowl is Utah’s most-projected bowl destination this week, including one where the Utes are matched up with Louisville. There’s also a pair of projections that Utah will face a Big Ten program in the Las Vegas Bowl.
- Kyle Bonagura, ESPN: Independence Bowl, vs. Florida Atlantic.
- Mark Schlabach, ESPN: Independence Bowl, vs. UTSA.
- Jerry Palm, CBS Sports: Independence Bowl, vs. UAB.
- Brett McMurphy, Action Network: Independence Bowl, vs. Marshall.
- College Football News: Independence Bowl, vs. UTSA.
- Brad Crawford, 247 Sports: Independence Bowl, vs. Charlotte.
- Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports: Independence Bowl, vs. UTSA.
BYU is the first Utah team to officially become bowl eligible with its win over Washington State last week. The most-picked opponent for the Cougars to play in the Independence Bowl continues to be UTSA, which is undefeated (8-0) and ranked No. 23 in the latest Associated Press poll. There are new teams making an appearance as the Cougars’ projected bowl opponent, though, like Florida Atlantic and Charlotte, two of the top teams in Conference USA’s parity-heavy East Division.
Utah State Aggies
(5-2, 3-1 in Mountain West)
- Kyle Bonagura, ESPN: N/A
- Mark Schlabach, ESPN: Frisco Bowl, vs. UTEP.
- Jerry Palm, CBS Sports: Arizona Bowl, vs. Kent State.
- Brett McMurphy, Action Network: Hawaii Bowl, vs. UCF.
- College Football News: First Responder Bowl, vs. Western Kentucky.
- Brad Crawford, 247 Sports: Myrtle Beach Bowl, vs. Marshall.
- Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports: New Mexico Bowl, vs. UTEP.
One season after winning just one game, the Aggies need just one more victory to officially become bowl eligible following their win over Colorado State. This week’s most interesting bowl matchup comes from Action Network’s Brett McMurphy, who projects Utah State will face Big 12-bound UCF in the Hawaii Bowl. UTEP shows up as a potential bowl opponent in two projections, though there is no consensus as to where the Aggies may be headed at this point. Curiously, ESPN’s Bonagura did not include Utah State in his bowl projections this week after doing so in the weeks before.