Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Kragthorpe: BYU, Utah will battle for bowl bids in 2013

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Dec 23 2012 04:25 pm • Last Updated Dec 24 2012 01:06 pm

Regardless of whatever degree of importance anyone assigns to the Utah-BYU football rivalry in its current state, the temporary end of the series will offer one last gift to September’s winner in Provo: a bid to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

That’s my forecast for 2013, when the Cougars are ticketed to play in San Francisco if they’re bowl-eligible, meeting a Pac-12 opponent. If Utah is available, it probably will mean BYU failed to qualify. If BYU’s in, Utah’s likely out.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

In other words, the rivalry game’s loser will have a tough time reaching a 6-6 record.

Collectively, the Utes and Cougars — and Utah State, which hosts BYU and some recognizable opponents in the Mountain West — will play the most attractive home schedule in the history of college football in this state. Winning those games against the likes of Stanford and UCLA (Utah) and Texas and Boise State (BYU) is another issue entirely.

Utah and BYU can only hope quarterbacking stability gives them a better chance for consistency in 2013, in the wake of a coincidentally crazy season at that position. Whether next year’s starters are Utah’s Travis Wilson and BYU’s Taysom Hill or one or both of them is overtaken by a freshman, more continuity certainly would help.

Amazingly, each program went through three starting QBs this season. The six of them produced a combined 13 victories, while USU’s Chuckie Keeton posted 11 wins himself. BYU must be the only team that ever had three quarterbacks win his first two starts in a season — which apparently means the Cougars should have played Jason Munns against Oregon State and Notre Dame.

When the NFL draft comes in April, any excitement among fans about having defensive linemen from Utah and BYU taken in the first round will be tempered by the realization that their teams probably should have won more games with them.

Utah loses Star Lotulelei, who’s potentially the No. 1 overall pick. The Utes went 22-2 in the two years before quarterback Alex Smith was drafted No. 1 in 2005; they were 13-12 the last two seasons with Lotulelei anchoring their defense.

If it’s comforting that the Utes were blown out only once in 2012 (a 37-7 loss at Arizona State), their two-year record in Pac-12 play is sobering. The Utes have gone 7-11 in the league, including 3-7 against South Division rivals and 4-5 at home. Until they actually win more than four of their nine conference games in any season, it’s unreasonable to expect such performance from them. So that means the Utes would need at least two wins against Weber State, Utah State and BYU to become bowl-eligible.

BYU is similarly positioned. The Cougars competed favorably in every game this season, including a 17-14 loss at national finalist Notre Dame. But next year’s schedule is much tougher. If the Cougars lose to Utah for a ninth time in 12 years, the climb to the six-win level will become challenging.

story continues below
story continues below

The Cougars’ biggest issues of the immediate future were standing on the Poinsettia Bowl podium Thursday, receiving MVP awards. If linebacker Kyle Van Noy and receiver Cody Hoffman stay in school, BYU’s outlook brightens considerably. Those two would be worth about one victory apiece.

The country’s No. 3-ranked defense will take some hits, regardless. Who would have imagined going into this season that Ziggy Ansah would emerge as a first-round prospect?

Thanks to Keeton and eight teammates who received some level of All-Western Athletic Conference recognition, Utah State will have the most returning talent. The biggest unknown is how coach Matt Wells will perform as Gary Andersen’s successor, and the Mountain West schedule rotation is another variable.

Even so, USU should earn one of the conference’s bowl bids in 2013. The question is which of the state’s other schools also will be playing in December. We should find out in September.


Twitter: @tribkurt

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.