Brigham Young will play in its ninth straight college bowl game when it meets Washington in the Fight Hunger Bowl on Friday, Dec. 27, looking for its fifth straight bowl victory.
While the Cougars struggled at times this season, they should be battle-tested, having gone 8-4 against a schedule that included nine bowl-bound teams.
The Huskies just experienced their best regular season under head coach Steve Sarkisian, winning four of their last five to finish at 8-4. However, Sarkisian is gone after he bolted for the head job at USC, as Washington and BYU prepare to meet at AT&T Park in San Francisco next week.
Odds Shark computer prediction
Why the Cougars can cover the spread
BYU has had its ups and downs this year, playing an independent schedule for the second season, but they're right where they usually are: getting ready to play another bowl. The Cougars started 1-2, but then won five in a row before finishing 2-2 with losses at Wisconsin and Notre Dame. Among BYU's four defeats, three came against teams headed to bowls.
Offensively, Brigham Young, led by dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill, ranks 14th in the country overall and 10th in rushing, averaging 275 yards per game on the ground.
Defensively, the Cougars rank 52th overall and 56th versus the run, giving up 158 yards per game. BYU isn't quite the team it was a few seasons ago, but coach Bronco Mendenhall must know how to make good use of three weeks between games considering that the Cougars have won, and covered, four bowls in a row.
Why the Huskies can cover the spread
Washington just lost its head coach, so before Chris Petersen moves in from Boise State, former Huskies quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo will guide the team in this bowl. After three straight seven-win seasons, Washington has finally reached eight victories and is favored to get to nine.
U-Dub has lost four games this season—to Stanford, Oregon, Arizona State and UCLA. All four are playing this bowl season. Washington can move the ball like few others, averaging 271 yards through the air, 243 yards on the ground and 39 points per game.
The Huskies also ranked in the top half in the country in several key defensive categories and got better as the season went along. Washington is in limbo with its head coaches, but that doesn't seem to matter to the oddsmakers or to the betting public.
Defensively, these two teams are about equal, although BYU is a little banged up on that side of the ball. Offensively, Washington owns the edge and, according to the Sagarin ratings, the Huskies played a slightly stronger schedule this season. Losing its head coach creates some uncertainty, but having an alum take the helm for this bowl might provide a spark.
The Cougars could keep this one close if they can grind out some drives and keep the ball away from a potent Washington offense, but three points isn't enough. Go with the Huskies and take the high-scoring prediction from the computer with a grain of salt because this one should not approach the 75 projected points.
- UNDER is 5-1 past six Fight Hunger Bowls
- BYU has won and covered four straight bowl games
- OVER is 4-1 past five Huskies' bowl games
- Huskies lost three straight to BYU since 1999