Too many bowl games, you say? After becoming bowl-eligible with 6-6 records and being left out, Buffalo, Western Michigan and Texas-San Antonio disagree. So do I. My annual challenge is to find a reason to watch all 39 games, and here we go, beginning Saturday:
Troy vs. North Texas, New Orleans • LSU went 1-2 against schools from Alabama, and Troy is not the team that the Tigers beat. The Trojans are good.
Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State, Cure • After completing one pass and throwing a pick-six in his two attempts as a Utah quarterback, Conner Manning transferred to Georgia State and has passed for 5,582 yards in two seasons.
Oregon vs. Boise State, Las Vegas • Between them, these teams went 4-0 vs. Utah schools in 2017. Boise State loses only four senior starters.
Marshall vs. Colorado State, New Mexico • CSU receiver Michael Gallup got my Biletnikoff Award vote, after catching seven passes in a win over Utah State.
Arkansas State vs. Middle Tennessee, Camellia • Weird to think these teams once were in the same conference (Sun Belt) as USU.
Florida Atlantic vs. Akron, Boca Raton • FAU’s Lane Kiffin was USC’s coach in Utah’s first Pac-12 game, which produced a crazy ending when the Trojans blocked a tying field-goal attempt.
Louisiana Tech vs. Southern Methodist, Frisco • This is my biggest stretch, which is saying something: Tech quarterback coach Tim Rattay played the position for the Bulldogs when Gary Crowton coached there.
Florida International vs. Temple, Gasparilla • Former Utah State coach Brent Guy is FIU’s defensive coordinator. If that’s not a sufficient draw, tune in for the Bad Boy Mowers sponsor commercials.
Ohio vs. UAB, Bahamas • Ohio beat USU in the Aggies’ first bowl game of this century (2011) and UAB is a good story, having brought back football after a two-year absence.
Wyoming vs. Central Michigan, Potato • Wyoming is the one game that got away from USU during the Aggies’ 6-6 season, a 28-23 loss in Logan.
South Florida vs. Texas Tech, Birmingham • Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury is a member of BYU graduate Mike Leach’s coaching tree, which keeps expanding.
San Diego State vs. Army, Armed Forces • In recruiting, USU really pursued SDSU running back Rashaad Penny. Good try. He’s a first-team AP All-American after a 2,000-yard season.
Toledo vs. Appalachian State, Dollar General • Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside played brilliantly in a 55-53 loss at BYU in 2016, passing for 505 yards and five touchdowns.
Fresno State vs. Houston, Hawaii • BYU suffered some embarrassing defeats this season, but losing at Fresno State is not in that category. The Bulldogs are good.
Utah vs. West Virginia, Heart of Dallas • Any Power Five bowl opponent is an attractive matchup for Utah, with no such nonconference game booked until 2023.
Duke vs. Northern Illinois, Quick Lane • Northern Illinois is Utah’s first FBS opponent of 2018, and the Huskies also will visit BYU.
Kansas State vs. UCLA, Cactus • UCLA claimed the Pac-12′s last bowl slot with a better conference record (4-5) than Utah, even after being crushed by the Utes. And this is likely the last college game for quarterback Josh Rosen.
Florida State vs. Southern Mississippi, Independence • Ute fans were worried about their team possibly shipped to Shreveport, but the weather may be better than the rain/snow showers in the forecast for Dallas.
Iowa vs. Boston College, Pinstripe • Iowa kept Urban Meyer’s Ohio State team out of the College Football Playoff with a 55-24 victory.
Arizona vs. Purdue, Foster Farms • BYU’s revamped offensive coaching staff will make its debut at Arizona in September.
Texas vs. Missouri, Texas • Josh Heupel, who is now Central Florida’s head coach, did a remarkable job as Missouri’s offensive coordinator after seemingly no one was disappointed when he left USU in December 2015.
Navy vs. Virginia, Military • Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall loves trying to defend option attacks, and here comes another test for the Utah native against Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo, who was profiled in “Meet the Mormons.” Niumatalolo interviewed with BYU after Mendenhall left in December 2015. This should be one of the better lower-tier bowl games.
Oklahoma State vs. Virginia Tech, Camping World • Virginia Tech shut out Robert Anae’s Virginia offense in the rivalry game to conclude the regular season.
Washington State vs. Michigan State, Holiday • Logan product Luke Falk will hope for a better performance than the Cougars’ showing vs. a depleted Minnesota team last December in San Diego. Falk needs 515 passing yards to reach 15,000 for his career.
TCU vs. Stanford, Alamo • Bingham High School alumnus Dalton Schultz of Stanford made the All-Pac-12 first team at tight end, having caught only 20 passes this season.
Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M, Belk • Wake Forest came to Logan in 2014 and was the worst Power Five team I had ever seen. The Demon Deacons are better now, judging by a 46-10 pounding of USU in September.
North Carolina State vs. Arizona State, Sun • The Sun Devils conclude a weird season in the Sun Bowl, before Herm Edwards takes over the program.
Kentucky vs. Northwestern, Music City • Northwestern is known for its coaching staff consistency, including offensive coordinator Mick McCall, whose brother Randy is a well-known college basketball referee in the West.
Utah State vs. New Mexico State, Arizona • This will be like a road game for USU, with NMSU fans having to drive only 275 miles and being eager for the school’s first bowl appearance in 57 years. New Mexico State has already sold out its ticket allotment.
USC vs. Ohio State, Cotton • The Trojans wouldn’t be here, if not for stopping Utah quarterback Troy Williams on a 2-point conversion attempt. USC is a rare Pac-12 opponent for Meyer.
Louisville vs. Mississippi State, Tax Slayer • Mississippi State represented BYU’s last chance to beat a Power Five team in 2017, and the Cougars lost 35-10 amid the cowbells in Starkville.
Iowa State vs. Memphis, Liberty • Memphis would have been in a New Year’s Six game, if the Tigers could have outlasted UCF in double overtime.
Penn State vs. Washington, Fiesta • Washington is another what-if in Utah’s season, after the Huskies scored 10 points in the last minute of a 33-30 win.
Wisconsin vs. Miami, Orange • Wisconsin landed five players on the AP All-America first, second or third team. Utah State and BYU are aware of the Badgers’ talent after losing by a combined 99-16.
Michigan vs. South Carolina, Outback • No matter how it ends someday, Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan coaching tenure started with a loss at Utah in 2015.
Auburn vs. Central Florida, Peach • UCF’s unbeaten season, with the Knights coming nowhere near the CFP semifinals, illustrates the ceiling for Group of Five teams. But any New Year’s Six game is a good showcase.
Notre Dame vs. LSU, Citrus • BYU fans will watch this game, with LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes on his way to Provo.
Oklahoma vs. Georgia, Rose • Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma opposes an SEC defense.
Clemson vs. Alabama, Sugar • A rematch of a great national championship game from January.