BYU Football is going to need help from other teams losing if they hope to make it into the NY6 conversation by the end of the season.
BYU Football has an outside shot at making it to a New Year Six Bowl Game. For that to happen, the Cougars need some chaos in front of them as well as some chaos behind them as to not be leapfrogged in the rankings.
As I’ve seen various tweets come in showing which teams BYU fans should be cheering for this weekend, it occurred to me that many of these lists will leave nothing but an overall feeling of disappointment. For example, while there is nothing wrong with hoping that Notre Dame loses to Navy, at the end of the day Navy is a two win team who likely has no shot on really winning.
So instead of giving a long list of 14-15 games that fans should be watching, I’ve dug deep into five matchups that can really make an impact.
1. No. 17 Mississippi State vs Arkansas
Mississippi State can be a key disrupter later this season in killing the ranking of Texas A&M and Ole Miss, however that will only be helpful for BYU if Miss State loses this weekend to Arkansas, otherwise the Bulldogs will just jump the Cougars and the later SEC games will become less helpful for the Cougars.
Mississippi State is the highest three loss team which is both interesting and good for the Cougars. There is no way that a four loss Mississippi State will jump BYU for the rest of the season, so there is no better time for them to get that fourth loss than against Arkansas.
The Hogs have been hit and miss this season taking down Texas A&M and Texas while also losing to Ole Miss and Auburn. Arkansas is certainly capable of winning this game, especially at home, but they have some serious concerns in the secondary, which happens to be Miss State’s strength in the passing game.
2. No. 14 Texas A&M vs No. 13 Auburn
While some may view this game as an unimportant game as the loser will likely drop below BYU regardless, there is some serious reason to be cheering for Auburn in this game. Texas A&M already has the best win of the season this year against Alabama and with a win would likely vault them into the Top 10, or into a spot where even with a loss they will remain ranked ahead of BYU.
Auburn on the other hand doesn’t have a marquee win yet. On top of that, the end of their schedule is much more difficult with Ole Miss and Mississippi State still on their schedule. In both cases, it is in BYU fan’s best interest to root for the War Eagles this week, and then against them every week from here on out.
3. No. 11 Oklahoma State vs West Virginia
Oklahoma State is one team that needs to get out of BYU’s way in the rankings. With Baylor already having the head to head win over BYU, it will probably require two more losses by the Bears to get ranked behind BYU. If Oklahoma makes the Playoff, then Baylor would get an auto-bid anyway which would also be just fine.
If Oklahoma State were to lose to West Virginia and drop below BYU, it is unlikely that they would rise again above the Cougars as they will likely be dealt a loss later in the season to Oklahoma either in the regular season or the Big 12 Championship.
Losing to West Virginia would eliminate any late season drama that could be the difference between BYU or Oklahoma State getting the last NY6 bowl.
4. No. 16 Ole Miss vs Liberty
This is on the edge of “not worth watching” but there is one reason this game is intriguing. Ole Miss has just finished playing a really tough patch of SEC games and have Texas A&M coming up next week. While Ole Miss is clearly the better team in this matchup, Liberty is sitting at 7-2 themselves and could come in and get a few quick scores on Ole Miss.
Again, if everything goes as planned, this game shouldn’t be close, but with Matt Corral already a bit injured, the Rebels may be coming into this game with the mentality of sitting Corral in the second half. If that doesn’t happen, watch out for things to get weird real quick.
5. No. 3 Michigan State vs Purdue
Wait, the number three team in the country on upset alert? Yes, because it is Purdue and Purdue has a tendency to ruin teams’ seasons as they did against Penn State this year and Ohio State a few years ago.
Also, Michigan State is officially under the microscope now. To this point in the season the Spartans haven’t really been talked about. They were projected to be ranked towards the bottom of the Big 12 East, yet they are leading the league and almost the nation with their ranking. As Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan ate up all the headlines, the Spartans flew under the radar completely. Not anymore.
Will Michigan State rise to the occasion or fall under the pressure? Only time will tell.