PROVO, Utah — No. 13 BYU (10-2) has accepted an invitation to play UAB (8-4) in the 45th Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Saturday, Dec. 18. The 11th-oldest bowl game in the country, the 2021 Independence Bowl will feature the Cougars and Blazers in a 2:30 p.m. CT kick televised nationally on ABC.
“We are happy to accept the invitation from the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl and look forward to facing UAB,” said BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe. “It has been a phenomenal season for our program. I’m so happy for Kalani, his staff and his players and credit to them for putting together an inspiring 10-2 record in what has been the most challenging schedule in BYU Football history. Let’s win one more and finish strong an already-incredible BYU Football season, and incredible 2021 calendar year for BYU Athletics, and continue to build upon a very bright future entering into the Big 12.”
BYU will be making its first bowl appearance in the state of Louisiana, and just its third game ever in the Bayou state. The Cougars played in the Superdome against LSU in 2017 and Tulane in 2009. This year’s game will be BYU 39th bowl overall dating back to the 1974 Fiesta Bowl. Among their 39 bowl appearances, the Cougars have played in 20 different bowl games in 12 states. BYU’s 39 postseason bowl invitations ranks tied for No. 20th among college programs — more than storied programs such as UCLA, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and Stanford. The Cougars have gone bowling in 16 of the past 17 seasons.
“I want to thank the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl for this invitation and opportunity to come to Shreveport to face a very good UAB team,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake. “UAB is very well-coached and has had a lot of success under the leadership of Bill Clark, who is an exceptional coach. Our team is excited to have one more opportunity to take the field together and build upon what we have already accomplished together this season. We are looking forward to the matchup.”
UAB and BYU are meeting for the first time. The Blazers are coached by Bill Clark, who has guided the Blazers to unprecedented success in his six years as head coach, including winning the Conference USA championship in 2018 and 2020. The Conference USA titles are the first two in program history. Clark, who earned National Coach of the Year honors in 2017 and 2018, has a 48-26 record at UAB and 59-30 record overall as a head coach. The Blazers began playing in 1991 and moved to the FBS level in 1996. UAB has been invited to five previous bowl games, winning the 2018 Boca Raton Bowl over Northern Illinois.
This year UAB finished second in the Conference USA West Division at 6-2 and completed the regular season with an 8-4 record, which included road losses at nationally ranked Georgia and UTSA. The Blazers boast a stout defense, ranked 15th in the nation in total defense and 12th in rushing defense. Running back DeWayne McBride headlines the UAB offense having totaled 1,188 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. The Blazers, like BYU, have also excelled at creating turnovers, joining the Cougars in forcing 19 takeaways this year.
Ranked No. 13 in the final College Football Playoff Rankings, BYU will be the highest-ranked team to play in an Independence Bowl in the game's 45-year history. The last and highest-ranked team entering an Independence Bowl was LSU in 1997, when the Tigers entered the bowl ranked No. 15.
“Our game has featured some of the greatest teams, players and coaches in college football history, but we have not had the chance to host BYU prior to this year,” said Missy Setters, Executive Director of Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl. "They are one of the great programs in college football, and the impact their team and fan base has rings loudly all throughout the country. We are proud to have the opportunity to host them and show them all the great hospitality our area has to offer.”
This year Coach Sitake has led the Cougars to a 10-2 regular season and No. 13 CFP ranking, after an 11-1 season and No. 11 final ranking in 2020. It’s the first time BYU has had back-to-back seasons with 10 or more wins since 2008-09. The Cougars beat six teams from the Power 5 in 2021, including a perfect 5-0 against Pac-12 opponents. BYU also claimed the Beehive Boot in 2021 with in-state victories over Pac-12 champion Utah and Mountain West champion Utah State.
After BYU had five players selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, including quarterback Zach Wilson going No. 2 overall to the New York Jets, Sitake’s team this year has excelled under the leadership of quarterback Jaren Hall and All-America candidate running back Tyler Allgeier, who has more than 1,400 rushing yards while being tied for the nation’s lead with 20 rushing touchdowns. As a team, BYU boasts the nation's No. 17 offense overall in 2021.
“BYU football is entrenched in the history of college football, and they are one of the best teams in the country this season, said Frank Auer, 2021 Chairman of Independence Bowl Foundation."Our organization has a reputation for the great hospitality and experience we provide to the teams, and we look forward to providing the Cougars players, coaches, staff and families a tremendous experience in Shreveport.”
To purchase tickets or get ticket information for the bowl, go to BYUTickets.com