Depending on what happens around the college football landscape this weekend, there’s a possible scenario that would make the Rose Bowl extra rosy for Utah fans.
Utah in the Rose Bowl sounds good on its own, right?
How about Kyle Whittingham’s Utah in the Rose Bowl against Urban Meyer’s Ohio State?
Now we’re talking. That matchup of Utah’s current and previous coach would be so enticing they might throw a parade in SoCal that morning.
Though this season didn’t pan out how BYU would’ve preferred, there’s a partner pairing that would make the bowl season exciting for the Cougars, too.
Remember Bronco Mendenhall? Like his former team, the ex-BYU coach’s Virginia squad is uncertain of its bowl destination.
So, let's envision enjoying a BYU vs. Bronco reunion for the heck of it. Who wouldn’t want to attend the Fireside Bowl?
A BYU-Virginia bowl game — the Fireside Bowl does not exist amongst the 39 actual bowls, by the way — is an entertaining idea but would require some serious wheeling and dealing to make happen.
The ACC was a conference of mediocrity this season, so the Cavaliers are still in the mix for a Tier 1 bowl game despite dropping their final two games and only winning seven games.
“In this instance,” blogger Matt Trogdon wrote on streakingthelawn.com, “it appears that lucky was better than good.”
The best scenario and the one multiple bowl prognosticators are selecting for Mendenhall’s team is the Belk Bowl.
The Sun Bowl and Pinstripe Bowl are also possibilities.
Keep in mind, 6-6 teams are not eligible for this level of bowls.
Tier 2 bowls with ACC ties include the Quick Lane Bowl and the Military Bowl.
And ESPN would have to pull some strings to get Virginia invited to any of the lower-tier bowls BYU has been linked with, although the Gasparilla Bowl does have an ACC tie-in. The Cheez-It Bowl and the First Responder Bowl don’t. While others predicted the Cougars will play in one of those bowls, CBS Sports writer Jerry Palm is projecting the Cougars will go to the I’ll Be Home For Christmas And The Bowl Season Bowl.
Utah has its bowl destiny in its hands. All the No. 17 Utes have to do is beat No. 11 Washington in Friday’s Pac-12 Championship game and they’ll be running for the roses in a month. Win and they’re in the Rose Bowl. Simple, right? In theory, yes. But the Huskies held Utah to one touchdown in their 21-7 victory in September, so doing might be tougher than dreaming.
If Utah loses, the team appears to be headed to a very nice consolation prize in San Antonio (Alamo Bowl) or San Diego (Holiday Bowl). Oregon could leapfrog the Utes for a Holiday holiday, which might put the U. in the Sun Bowl.
To get that fun Urban vs. Utah dream to come to fruition, the Utes would need their W over U-dub, Ohio State would need to beat Northwestern (Big Ten championship) and Oklahoma would need to beat Texas (Big 12). The Sooners are currently one spot ahead of the Buckeyes for that fourth and final College Football Playoff spot in the selection committee’s rankings, so it’s presumed that Oklahoma would punch its ticket by beating the Longhorns and push Ohio State out of the championship mix and into the Rose Bowl.
All of that is assuming the three seemingly locked-in schools — Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame — qualify for the playoffs as expected. Otherwise, mass pandemonium will break out in the bowl picture, which would be its own kind of fun.
Most projections have an OSU-UW Rose Bowl, for what it's worth.
Ute fans and former players won’t be surprised that after Ohio State’s rivalry win over Michigan, Meyer warned his team leaders that this week’s practices would be “over-the-top demanding,” the USA Today reported.28 comments on this story
Beating a rival isn’t enough to satisfy Meyer, not with a Big Ten Championship game against Northwestern ahead and the possibility of squeaking into the CFP scene still remaining. You'd have to imagine Whittingham feels the same about being laser-focused after rallying past the Team Down South, as Meyer called BYU when he coached the Team Up North.
“When you start using terms like national championship and playoffs, that’s very rare air,” Meyer said. “That’s why we have a job to do — get ready for practice and go win the Big Ten championship and worry about that down the road.”
While the Utes are having visions of roses dance in their heads, Utah State is looking at the possibilities of landing spots like the Armed Forces Bowl, the Idaho Potato Bowl and the Frisco Bowl.