When the Washington Huskies face the BYU Cougars in the 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl, they won't have stability on the sidelines.
Steve Sarkisian left the school to become head coach of USC, and former Boise State coach Chris Peterson was named his long-term replacement. Peterson has already spent time around the team, and he's started to assemble his staff and recruit.
Interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo will attempt to run things as normally as possible, but as you can imagine, that will be difficult.
BYU will attempt to take advantage of the confusion.
The Cougars had a strong season at 8-4. The record was even more impressive when you consider Bronco Mendenhall's team played five squads that made it to bowl games.
This is a battle-tested bunch that will give the Huskies all they can handle. Here's how you can watch the action and deeper analysis.
Time: December 27, 6:30 p.m. PT
Place: AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif.
Washington: Bishop Sankey, RB
If there is one player who most deserved an invitation to the Heisman ceremony that didn't get one, it's Sankey. Aside from running for 1,774 yards, Sankey scored at least one touchdown in every game this season.
He was third in the nation in rushing and, in my opinion, deserved to be a Heisman finalist more than Auburn's Tre Mason.
In any case, Sankey will be a handful for the Cougars to contain on Friday and the key to the Huskies' success.
BYU: Uani' Unga, LB
Unga is one of the nation's most prolific tacklers. On Friday, he'll be the man in charge of rallying his defense to slow down Sankey and Washington's up-and-down signal caller, Keith Price.
If the Cougars' front seven can't stiffen and keep Sankey from having a huge day, it'll be hard for them to win. Unga's senior leadership and explosion into gaps will be essential.
Sankey isn't the only dangerous ground weapon in this game. BYU sophomore Jamaal Williams rushed for 1,202 yards this season. He exploded for 219 in the regular-season finale against Nevada.
Teamed with dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill, the Cougars have a dynamic rushing duo. With Sankey sure to get his share of touches and the Hill-Williams combo trying to make their mark, the team with the edge in rushing yards will win this game.
Who wins 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl?
We can downplay the distractions all we want, but Steve Sarkisian didn't do the Huskies program any favors leaving it when he did. Washington had to act fast to get whom it felt was the right replacement in Peterson.
Likewise, I'm sure USC wasn't willing to wait around and allow Sarkisian a ton of time to think about its offer.
As it is, it seems a long shot the Huskies players will be as focused as they need to be for this one.
Look for BYU to take advantage of a slow start from the Huskies. The Cougars will run the ball exceptionally well and edge Washington, 35-28.
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