AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
*** BYU (8-4) vs. Washington (8-4) ***
Friday, December 27, 9:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The headlines will shift back to the gridiron for the Washington
Huskies, who will take on the BYU Cougars in the 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl at
AT&T Park in San Francisco.
To say the end of the season for Washington was tumultuous would be an
understatement. In the span of a week following the regular-season finale,
the Huskies lost their head coach, when Steve Sarkisian jetted to USC, only to
replace him with coveted former Boise State coach Chris Petersen. However
Petersen will not be taking the reins for the bowl game. That responsibility
will fall to quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo.
“I’m thrilled to do it,” The former Washington quarterback said. “I’m thrilled
to help them out in this role. I’m excited about this opportunity. Huskies
always help Huskies out.”
The big shifts on the sidelines took attention away from what was a solid
season for the Huskies. Washington finished a tough trek through the Pac-12
with an overall record of 8-4. The eight wins are the most for a Washington
squad since 2001. The record earned them their fourth straight bowl bid after
a seven-year absence.
The Cougars finished up their third season as an Independent with an 8-4
record to match that of the Huskies. BYU’s season was highlighted by triumphs
over Texas (40-21) and a five-game winning streak from the end of September
to mid-October. The success of this season continues quite the run over the
nine-year reign under Bronco Mendenhall. The Cougars have been to a bowl in
every one of those campaigns, with a record of 6-2 in their previous
postseason trips. That includes a 23-6 triumph over San Diego State in the
Poinsettia Bowl a year ago.
“I’m proud of our team,” Mendenhall said. “We are excited to be in the
postseason for the ninth straight year with a chance to grow our program
facing an outstanding football program.”
A 48-yard touchdown pass from Riley Nelson to JJ Di Luigi pushed BYU to a
23-17 win over Washington when these teams last met during the 2010 season
opener. The win evened the all-time series between the programs with each
claiming four victories.
There should be no shortage of offense this time around as each of these
teams feature units that rank among the top 20 in the country. Washington
is the more productive, ranking eighth in the nation (514.3 ypg).
Leading the way for the Huskies is All-Pac 12 First-Team running back Bishop
Sankey. The junior back has been incredible this season, amassing
1,775 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground. Sankey ranks third in the
country behind Boston College’s Andre Williams and Arizona’s KaDeem Carey in
rushing yards per game (147.9). Sankey’s production was a major reason that
the Huskies set school records in total offense, rushing offense (243.1 ypg)
and scoring offense (38.5 pg).
Sankey is not the only player on the offensive side that has garnered national
attention. Even though he missed a handful of games early in the season, tight
end Austin Seferian-Jenkins still put together a strong enough resume (33
receptions, 413 yards, seven TDs) to earn the Mackey Award for the nation’s
best tight end. Jaydon Mickens (62 receptions, 681 yards, five TDs) and Kevin
Smith (45 receptions, 722 yards, four TDs) are also key components of the
Of course the Huskies also got some strong play from under center during their
record-breaking season. Keith Price was hampered by a thumb injury for some of
the season but it rarely affected his play. Price finished with 20 touchdowns
and 2,843 yards through the air, while completing 65.5 percent of his pass
attempts. Perhaps even more impressive is that Price was only intercepted five
On the other side of the ball the Huskies have not been as impressive this
season. They are allowing 381.9 yards and 23.4 points per game, which has
them ranked near the middle of the Pac-12. Hau’oli Kikaha (12.5 TFL, 10.0
sacks) and Marcus Peters (53 tackles, five INTs) each enjoyed impressive
seasons that ended in second-team All-Pac-12 selections.
The Cougars are not likely to be intimidated by Washington’s impressive
offensive numbers. After all the Cougars are ranked 14th in the country in
total offense (495.4 ypg). However, BYU scores at a more modest clip (31.3
ppg) as compared to the Huskies.
For the Cougars, the man running the show is Taysom Hill, a talented dual-
threat quarterback just as likely to hurt teams through the air as on the
ground. Hill threw for 2,645 yards and 19 touchdowns during the regular
season. However, Hill had a tendency to be erratic with his passes, being
intercepted 13 times and completing just 54.1 percent of his pass attempts.
On the ground is where Hill really shines as he led the team in rushing yards
(1,211) and touchdowns (nine). Hill ran for at least 100 yards in five games
this season, including a 259-yard, three-score effort in the win over Texas.
Hill just barely edged out Jamaal Williams as the leading rusher on the team
though. Williams finished with 1,202 yards and seven scores during the regular
season. Williams ran for over 100 yards five times as well, while reaching at
least 75 in nine contests.
When Hill is not taking off himself or handing the ball to Williams, the top
options through the air are Cody Hoffman and Skyler Ridley. Hoffman (45
receptions, 727 yards, five TDs) has been the most productive receiver for the
team, leading the Cougars in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.
Ridley (34 receptions, 412 yards, two TDs) is reliable, but has not been
utilized as consistently.
Interestingly enough BYU is mirroring Washington on defense as well. The
Cougars rank 52nd in the country in total yards allowed (383.8 ypg),which has
them a spot behind the Huskies on the national stage. BYU also holds foes to a
relatively solid scoring average (21.3 ppg). The unit is anchored by
linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who earned Walter Camp All-American honors for his
work this season. Van Noy registered 63 total tackles, including a team-best
16 for loss, to go along with four sacks and a pair of interceptions.
Even though there is talent on defense for both squads, this game is
unquestionably set up to be a track meet. Van Noy will need to be at the top
of his game and get some help from the rest of the front seven to slow down
Sankey. Similarly the Huskies’ will have their hands full with Hill out of the
backfield. When all is said and done the team that makes more plays through
the air might have an edge. Even with an interim head coach, the Huskies have
the edge in that regard.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington 34, BYU 31
12/21 10:04:27 ET
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