Bowl projections for BYU, Utah, Utah State one quarter of the way through the season
The Cougars and Utes are predicted for some intriguing matchups, while the Aggies are currently off the bowl radar
Through the first quarter of the 2023 college football season, BYU and Utah are on pace for bowl eligibility this year, while Utah State has some work to do.
Outside expectations are for Utah to challenge for a third-straight Pac-12 championship and another high-profile bowl, after two straight years of playing in the Rose Bowl, while the prevailing thought entering the year for BYU was to simply become bowl eligible as the Cougars play their first season in a Power Five league.
The Utes’ unbeaten start has kept those expectations intact, even as the team has dealt with a long list of injuries and has yet to see quarterback Cam Rising and tight end Brant Kuithe return from ACL injuries.
The Cougars’ postseason hopes increased after BYU went on the road and beat the SEC’s Arkansas last week, though the team is a decided underdog going into its Big 12 opener at Kansas on Saturday.
The Aggies, meanwhile, sit at 1-2 after losing to Air Force in their Mountain West Conference opener last Thursday and are turning to true freshman McCae Hillstead to be the team’s starting quarterback.
Utah State will play two more nonconference games — at home vs. James Madison and at UConn — the next two weeks before returning to conference play the remainder of the year.
ESPN’s Football Power Index currently gives all three winning odds to reach six wins and bowl eligibility this season, with Utah at 97.4%, Utah State at 67.3% and BYU at 62.9%.
How does the start of the 2023 season impact the latest bowl projections for each team? After Week 3 of the season, here’s a look at where several national media outlets have predicted the three Utah FBS schools will be playing in the postseason:
What are the latest bowl projections for Utah football?
- Kyle Bonagura, ESPN: Las Vegas Bowl, vs. Rutgers.
- Mark Schlabach, ESPN: Holiday Bowl, vs. Duke.
- Jerry Palm, CBS Sports: Las Vegas Bowl, vs. Iowa.
- Brett McMurphy, Action Network: Alamo Bowl, vs. Kansas State.
- Brad Crawford, 247 Sports: Holiday Bowl, vs. Duke.
- Erick Smith, USA Today: Holiday Bowl, vs. North Carolina.
- Steve Lassan, Athlon Sports: Las Vegas Bowl, vs. Iowa.
- College Football News: Alamo Bowl, vs. Kansas State.
What stands out: The Rose Bowl won’t be an available option for the Utes this year unless they make the College Football Playoff (it hosts a semifinal this season). The difficulty of the Pac-12 this season — eight league teams are currently ranked in The Associated Press top 25 rankings — is reflected in Utah’s latest bowl projections, with no one projecting the Utes to make a New Year’s Six game.
Time will tell if Utah bucks those odds and is in contention for a NY6 or CFP spot this season — four of the Utes’ next five games are against teams currently ranked in the AP top 25, including this Saturday’s opponent, No. 22 UCLA.
For now, Utah’s projections revolve around the Alamo, Holiday and Las Vegas bowls. Among the most intriguing matchups could be against Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl, with Utah joining the Wildcats in the Big 12 next season.
What are the latest bowl projections for BYU football?
- Kyle Bonagura, ESPN: Texas Bowl, vs. Kentucky.
- Mark Schlabach, ESPN: Hawaii Bowl, vs. Boise State.
- Jerry Palm, CBS Sports: Guaranteed Rate Bowl, vs. Purdue.
- Brett McMurphy, Action Network: Liberty Bowl, vs. Tennessee.
- Brad Crawford, 247 Sports: Birmingham Bowl, vs. Florida.
- Erick Smith, USA Today: Guaranteed Rate Bowl, vs. Nebraska.
- Steve Lassan, Athlon Sports: Guaranteed Rate Bowl, vs. Maryland.
- College Football News: Liberty Bowl, vs. Tennessee.
What stands out: Moving from independence to a Power Five conference raises the level of opponent the Cougars will face in the postseason, as reflected in these predictions. Seven of the eight projections involve a P5 opponent for BYU.
There are also some interesting rematches here — from Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl to Nebraska in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.
The most interesting, though, is Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl. The Volunteers were supposed to play BYU in Provo this season before Tennessee canceled the game. The Cougars beat the Volunteers in Knoxville in 2019.
What are the latest bowl projections for Utah State football?
- Kyle Bonagura, ESPN: Boca Raton Bowl, vs. Florida International.
- Mark Schlabach, ESPN: No bowl projection.
- Jerry Palm, CBS Sports: No bowl projection.
- Brett McMurphy, Action Network: No bowl projection.
- Brad Crawford, 247 Sports: No bowl projection.
- Erick Smith, USA Today: No bowl projection.
- Steve Lassan, Athlon Sports: No bowl projection.
- College Football News: No bowl projection.
What stands out: For now, the Aggies aren’t warranting much consideration as a postseason team, given their 1-2 record.
Those two losses, though, came against a top-25 Iowa program and an Air Force team expected to challenge for the MWC crown.
ESPN’s FPI also currently has Utah State favored in six of its nine remaining games, including the next three, which would get the Aggies to bowl eligibility for the 11th time in the past 13 seasons.