BYU will play in the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl this season, as long as the independent Cougars meet the NCAA’s postseason eligibility requirement by winning at least six games.* Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com was first to report the bowl arrangement, via Twitter. The Cougars will likely face an opponent from the American Athletic Conference, the conference that owns and manages the new postseason game. There has not been a formal announcement from the AAC or BYU about the reported bowl arrangement.
As an independent, it has become standard operating procedure for BYU to lock up a bowl partnership months before the first game of the season. Army and Navy have done the same as well for years as independents. With an abundance of bowl games with existing conference tie-ins, it is a wise move for BYU (and Navy and Army) to make their plans well ahead of time rather than wait to see what spots are leftover, which could mean less desirable destinations for the Cougars.
Since dropping conference affiliation with the Mountain West Conference and pursuing football independence following the 2010 season, BYU has lined up bowl deals with the Armed Forces Bowl, Poinsettia Bowl and Fight Hunger Bowl. Supposing BYU keeps its bowl streak alive (nine straight seasons with a bowl game), which it should, the Cougars will play in the first bowl game in Miami in program history. BYU has played two postseason bowl games in the state of Florida, both coming in what is now known as the Capital One Bowl (1976 Tangerine Bowl, 1985 Citrus Bowl).
The Miami Beach Bowl will be played in Marlins Park, home to baseball’s Miami Marlins. There is no pecking order for AAC bowl-eligible teams, but it should be expected the conference will attempt to pit its best available option in the new game against a national name like BYU.
* BYU has won at least seven games each season since 2006, so the odds look fairly good for the Cougars going to a bowl game.