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.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah