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Provo • A little bit of suspense will accompany football independent BYU's season in 2015 for the first time in several years if the Cougars rack up at least six wins and become bowl eligible for the 11th straight year.
BYU announced Thursday that it has accepted invitations to play in either the Hawaii Bowl or the Las Vegas Bowl at the conclusion of the 2015 season. Whichever bowl does not get the Cougars in 2015 will get them in 2019.
Both bowls are owned and operated by ESPN Events, and BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said the network will work with the bowls, BYU and the conferences with ties to those bowls to determine which matchups work best for all involved at the end of the regular season.
The presumption is the more wins the Cougars get in 2015, the better chances they have of playing in the Las Vegas Bowl, which has a significantly greater payout. Six, seven or eight wins would likely put BYU in Hawaii on Christmas Eve.
Prior to Thursday's announcement, the Las Vegas Bowl was expected to pit teams from the Mountain West and Pac-12, while the Hawaii Bowl was to feature teams from the MWC and American Athletic Conference. If the Las Vegas Bowl takes BYU, it would likely come at the expense of its MWC pick and could theoretically set up a BYU-Utah matchup, among other possibilities.
"We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in these two bowl games," Holmoe said. "We look forward to returning to Las Vegas and Honolulu. We are fortunate to have a large fan base in both those areas and it will be great to renew the many longtime friendships we've enjoyed in these two cities."
As expected, the Cougars will play three Friday games: on Oct. 2 at home against Connecticut, on Oct. 16 at home against Cincinnati and on Nov. 6 at San Jose State.
The San Jose State game will kick off at 9:30 p.m., a late time that Holmoe said was out of BYU's control because it is at SJSU and will be televised by the CBS Sports Network.
Holmoe said the Sept. 12 game against Boise State at LaVell Edwards Stadium will be a whiteout game and will be televised by ESPN or ESPN2. The game on Oct. 10 against East Carolina will be the Cougars' homecoming game, and the team will wear their royal blue jersey tops and white pants.
Holmoe defended BYU playing a Football Championship Subdivision team, Wagner, on Oct. 24 (1 p.m., BYUtv) by saying the move helped the Cougars get a game against the SEC's Missouri on Nov. 14 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
"This is a very unique schedule," Holmoe said. "It includes road games at three of the more storied college football stadiums in the country [Nebraska, Michigan and UCLA]. We enjoy playing in different regions of the country and traveling to places we've never been. We also like bringing teams to Edwards Stadium that have never played in Provo."
Holmoe reiterated on BYUtv's SportsNation show that the Cougars would like to schedule games against the military academies Army, Navy and Air Force but haven't been able to get anything set up.
"We'll even play it in Ireland or the Bahamas," he said.
Holmoe also addressed future scheduling concerns with Utah, saying he recently spoke to Utah athletic director Chris Hill about working out games beyond 2018.
Hill has insisted Utah-BYU games beyond 2018 be played in the first month of the season. But Holmoe, who has already booked early-season games with the likes of UCLA, Nebraska and Michigan in future years, questioned whether BYU should sacrifice one of those types of opponents to continue the Utah series.
BYU's 2015 football schedule
Date Opponent Time Television
Sept. 5 at Nebraska TBD TBD
Sept. 12 Boise State TBD ESPN or ESPN2
Sept. 19 at UCLA TBD TBD
Sept. 26 at Michigan TBD TBD
Oct. 2 Connecticut 8:15 p.m ESPN or ESPN2
Oct. 10 East Carolina TBD TBD
Oct. 16 Cincinnati 6 p.m. ESPN
Oct. 24 Wagner 1 p.m. BYUtv
Nov. 6 at San Jose State 9:30 p.m. CBSSN
Nov. 14 vs. Missouri at K.C. TBD TBD
Nov. 21 Fresno State TBD TBD
Nov. 28 at Utah State 1:30 p.m. CBSSN
Note: If bowl eligible, BYU will play in either the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24 or the Las Vegas Bowl