PHOTO: USA Today Sports
BYU Cougars (8-4) vs Washington Huskies (8-4)
Friday Dec 27th @ 9:30 PM (ESPN)
Line: Huskies by 3
How BYU got here: BYU had a strange start to their season as they beat #15 Texas but lost to Virginia and Utah. Then they rolled off five straight wins, all of which came against bowl-bound teams (Middle Tennessee, Utah State, Georgia Tech, Houston and Boise State). The Cougars finished the season by splitting four games including a pair of ten point losses to Wisconsin and Notre Dame.
How Washington got here: The Huskies started off red hot winning their first four including a blowout of Boise State. After starting 4-0, the schedule turned and Washington got stiff armed by Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State. After the rough part of the schedule, the Huskies finished by winning four of their last five.
For BYU to win: Taysom Hill needs to get settled in quickly. In wins, he is completing 62% of his passes with 15 TD vs 9 INT. In losses, he completes just 43% with 4 TD and 4 INT. On defense, they will have to deal with the third leading rusher in the Nation in Bishop Sankey. Containing him will be key
For Washington to win: Steve Sarkisian has left for USC which means Marques Tuiasosopo will be calling the shots for the Huskies. The choices he makes when pivotal decisions could be the difference between winning and losing. Another key will be how the defense plays in the red zone. In losses, the Huskies allowed their opponents to score on 96% of trips to the red zone and score TDs 72% of the time (both 13th in the Pac-12).
Key Player (BYU): Kyle Van Noy, LB. Did you watch the Poinsettia Bowl last season? He scored two touchdowns. On defense. Washington QB Keith Price will have to account for him on every play.
Key Player (Washington): Bishop Sankey, RB. In wins, Sankey is averaging 70 more yards per game (than in losses) and has six more TDs. He's also averaging 190 rushing ypg in their last four wins. Get him going, and it could be a long day for the BYU defense.
Key Stat: Washington and BYU have met eight times and the series stands tied with both schools winning four games.