Cougars eating from a bowl?
By Rick Istvan | Since 1922, BYU has only gone undefeated one time. In 1984 the Cougars, under head coach LaVell Edwards, went 13-0. Led by quarterback Robbie Bosco, the Cougars celebrated a 24-17 win over the Michigan Wolverines in the Thrifty Car Rental Holiday Bowl.
Since then, BYU has been to 37 Bowl games, winning 15, losing 21 and tying one. In 2018 and 2019 under Head Coach Kilani Sitaki, BYU had consecutive winning seasons with a record of 7-6. Both years BYU had earned a spot in Bowl games.
In 2018, BYU planted themselves in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Led by sprouting rookie QB Zach Wilson, BYU defeated Western Michigan 49-18. Apparently BYU enjoys beating the state of Michigan in Bowl games. The following year in 2019 Coach Sitaki, with his young QB, had BYU back in a bowl game. This time the Cougars found themselves facing the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in the So-Fi Hawaii Bowl. Playing on Christmas Eve in Hawaii, the Rainbow Warriors were in the giving spirit, presenting the Cougars a 38-34 loss.
Despite the loss the real gift BYU had was the talent in their young team. Zach Wilson finished the 2019 season with 2,382 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and a 130.8 QB rating. Those are pretty impressive numbers considering the young QB missed 4 games with a thumb injury.
Fast forward to November 16th 2020. BYU is ranked #8 in both the Associated Press Top 25 and Amway Coaches Poll which was released over the weekend. BYU still has two games left in their season. Both games will be played at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo Utah. On Saturday, BYU faces the North Alabama Lions at 1 PM. North Alabama is coming into Provo with an 0-3 record. Despite a 7 point homecoming win over UTSA, BYU has defeated all of their opponents by at least 14 points. The Lion may be the King of the jungle but the Cougar is the King of college football. BYU closes it’s regular season on December 12, 2020 at a time yet to be determined against San Diego State. San Diego State has a moderately difficult three game schedule before coming into Provo. The Aztecs will play 4-0 Nevada in Nevada. They then travel to Fresno State to play the Bulldogs and then they will be at home against a mediocre Colorado State team. The advantage (or disadvantage) that SDSU will have is that BYU won’t play a game for 2 weeks when the Aztecs come into LaVell Edwards Stadium.
What are the potential Bowls for the Cougars? According to ESPN.com (after week 8), the Fiesta Bowl is the spot for BYU. If this was the case this would have BYU playing the Oregon Ducks. Geographically this would make sense for both teams. With the Fiesta Bowl being played in Glendale Arizona at State Farm stadium, both teams would potentially be represented by their fans equally. This would also be a great opportunity for BYU to get the exposure they deserve. Up to this point Zach Wilson has thrown for 2,512 yards 22 touchdowns and two interceptions. He still has two games left to build on those numbers. These stats are a significant improvement from 2018, which shows growth. I personally believe BYU will go undefeated and make it to a Bowl game. I can’t say what their odds of winning are until I know who their opponent is. Win, lose or draw BYU has had a BYU-tiful season!
The bigger question is should Zach Wilson stay for his senior season, or should he declare for the NFL draft? To be continued…
Graphic by KSLsports.com