College football: Utah could play BYU in a bowl game this season
ÂImagine the Utah Utes fight, claw and battle their way through the most difficult football schedule the program has seen to become bowl eligible. The Utes' reward? A rematch with BYU.
That scenario could happen if the Utes are slotted in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, which pits the Pac-12 No. 6 team against BYU if it is eligible or the ACC's No. 9 team.
The scenario represents just one of the many twists that could happen at the end of the season.
The Utes, who failed to reach a bowl last year for the first time since 2002, are right in the mix of bowl talk this year with winnable-looking games at Washington State and Colorado remaining in the second half of their schedule. So what of a Utah-BYU rematch? Gary Cavalli, the executive director of the Fight Hunger Bowl, said rematches are normally something bowls want to avoid, but Utah and BYU is a little different since the rivals won't play again in the regular season again until 2016 and this year's game, won by Utah 20-13, was a very competitive contest.
"This one is a little unique because of the closeness of the game, the fact it was early in the season, the intensity of the rivalry and the fact that the teams won't be playing each other the next couple of years," he said.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said earlier in the year getting back to a bowl game was crucial to show the program was moving in the right direction. But he isn't concerning himself with any possible scenarios or would-be matchups.
"Right now we're just trying to win games," he said. "You have to put everything you have into every week."
As it stands, the Pac-12 should be well-represented in the postseason with Oregon in contention for a berth in the national title game, while Stanford, UCLA and Washington are ranked teams.
The Pac-12 could have two teams go to BCS bowls since teams that finish ranked in the top 14 of the BCS standings can be considered for at-large berths if there are fewer than 10 automatic qualifiers.
"The Pac-12 is having a great year, as evidenced by success in inter-league play and the strength from top to bottom," Cavalli said. "There could be as many as eight or nine Pac-12 teams eligible for the postseason this year, a very encouraging prospect for bowls with Pac-12 affiliations."
The Utes just hope to be one of those teams. Utah defensive end Trevor Reilly called last December one of the team's darker times considering the Utes were accustomed to playing in the post-season having appeared in nine straight bowls before going 5-7 last year.
It would also show the Utes are on an upswing too.
"To make a bowl game this year with three or more of our wins being against conference teams would be awesome," he said.
Bowl Location Date Matchup Payout
Rose Bowl Pasadena, Calif. Jan 1 BCS Big 10 tie-in vs. BCS Pac-12 tie-in $18,000,000
Alamo Bowl San Antonio Dec. 30 Big 12 #3 vs. Pac-12 #2 $3,175,000
Holiday Bowl San Diego, Calif. Dec. 30 Big 12 #5 vs. Pac-12 #3 $2,075,000
Sun Bowl El Paso, Texas Dec. 31 ACC #4 vs. Pac-12 #4 $2,000,000
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas Dec. 21 MWC #1 vs. Pac-12 #5 $1,100,000
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl San Francisco Dec. 27 Pac-12 #6 vs. BYU or ACC #9 $837,500
New Mexico Bowl Albuquerque, N.M. Dec. 21 MWC #4 vs. Pac-12 #7 $456,250