The BYU Cougars stayed in the national conversation during week 13 of the college football season, even with being on a bye. That came in large part to them coming in at No. 14 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, and many national media outlets spoke out about their ranking.

When it came to updated bowl projections following the weekend’s action, BYU still had several national prognosticators predicting favorable postseason matchups, although some showed just how much uncertainty there is right now surrounding the Cougars’ postseason picture.

This all comes, of course, with the latest CFP rankings set to be released Tuesday night, which will provide further insight into what the CFP committee — the ultimate decider on BYU’s New Year’s Six fate, if it stays unbeaten in the regular season — thinks of the Cougars after a week full of national outlets questioning their ranking of BYU.

In addition to the Cougars, the Utah Utes made their way onto a few of the eight national bowl projections as well despite dropping to 0-2 on the season after surrendering a 21-0 halftime lead against the Washington Huskies last Saturday and losing 24-21.

Bowl projections, Week 13

Athlon SportsFiesta, vs. OregonNone
Bowl SeasonBirmingham, vs. TulsaNone
CBS SportsLending Tree, vs. Coastal CarolinaLos Angeles, vs. Boise State
College Football NewsFiesta, vs. USCIndependence, vs. Army
ESPN, Kyle BonaguraFiesta, vs. WashingtonNone
ESPN, Mark SchlabachNew Mexico, vs. Fresno StateNone
Sporting NewsFiesta, vs. USCGasparilla, vs. Boston College
247 SportsBirmingham, vs. TulsaNone

Four for Fiesta

In half of the national bowl projections from the weekend, BYU was slated for the Fiesta Bowl against a Pac-12 team, even if the Cougars — at No. 14 — could easily find themselves outside of the New Year’s Six picture when the CFP releases its final rankings on Dec. 20.

Both Sporting News and College Football News pitted BYU against No. 18 USC in the Fiesta Bowl. The Trojans, at 3-0, lead the Pac-12 South. Last year, the Cougars defeated USC 30-27 in Provo.

BYU’s other two projected Fiesta matchups come from the Pac-12 North, Oregon (Athlon Sports) and Washington (ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura). The Huskies now lead the Pac-12 North after their comeback win over Utah, while the Ducks were ranked No. 15 in the first CFP rankings before they dropped a 41-38 decision to rival Oregon State last Saturday.

Other BYU projections

If the Cougars fail to make a NY6 game — a distinct possibility — it becomes murkier just how good of a matchup BYU will have in the postseason. One projection, for example, has the Cougars facing former Mountain West for Fresno State (3-1) in the New Mexico Bowl (from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach). 

In the other three projections, BYU is projected to face teams that appeared in the first CFP rankings. Two of the projections have the Cougars playing No. 25 Tulsa in the Birmingham Bowl (Bowl Season and 247 Sports). The Golden Hurricane sit behind only No. 7 Cincinnati in the American Athletic standings.

The most intriguing matchup outside of those that projected the Fiesta Bowl for BYU comes from CBS Sports, where Jerry Palm has the Cougars playing No. 20 Coastal Carolina in the Lending Tree Bowl one day after Christmas. The Chanticleers are 9-0 on the season, one of four undefeated Group of Five teams in the rankings.

What about Utah?

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The Utes are still looking for their first win of the season after dropping their second game of the year at Washington. That didn’t prevent Utah, however, from making its way onto a few of the bowl projections, even with several of the Pac-12’s eight bowl tie-ins already canceling their games this year because of COVID-19.

There was no consensus postseason pick for Utah, and just one that included facing another Power Five program — in the Gasparilla Bowl against Boston College (Sporting News). The Eagles are 6-4 this season, though they’ve lost all four times they have faced a ranked team.

The Utes also had one projected matchup of regional interest, against Boise State in the Los Angeles Bowl (CBS Sports), which would be a rematch of the Broncos-Utes Vegas Bowl from 10 years ago.

Meanwhile, College Football News has Utah making the Independence Bowl against Army, which had a game against BYU earlier this season postponed because of COVID-19 issues within the Cougars program.

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