Bowl Week: BYU vs Washington (Fight Hunger Bowl)
When it was announced that BYU would be playing Washington in the Fight Hunger Bowl, I was very happy with the selection. I, like many BYU fans, have followed Washington with some interest since they hired Steve Sarkisian in 2009. Sarkisian was just hired as the new head man at USC and will not be coaching in the bowl game. None-the-less, this is a great matchup for both teams. Both teams have 8-4 records and had good seasons but were a little disappointed at the same time. Washington started the year 4-0 before they ran into Stanford, Oregon, ASU, and UCLA. Both teams are still hungry to prove themselves. BYU won the last meeting between the two schools in 2010.
Get to Know UW:
So what happens when two teams ranked in the top 15 (UW is 8th, BYU 14th) in total offense get together to play? My guess is a lot of points. We know all about BYU at this point, so let’s take a look at some of the impact players on the UW offense.
Bishop Sanky (RB): Sanky has put up 1,775 yards this season and is averaging 5.8 yards per attempt. He has scored a rushing TD in every game this season. He was a Doak Walker award finalist and many bloggers have made the case that he should have won it over BC’s Williams. Not only is Sanky a threat in the run game but he has also caught 25 passes for 298 yards (avg. 11.9). So even if the linebackers get a break and don’t have to defend the run, they will still be working hard to keep track of him as a check down. Luckily, BYU has the linebackers to take on this challenge.
Keith Price (QB): Not bad stat line–65% completion rate, 2,843 yards, 20 TD’s, 5 INT’s, QBR 154.8 (and he missed the game where the team put up 69 against OSU). Price is very efficient and is the senior leader of this team. He definitely benefits from the play action game with Sanky and vice versa. This is where it gets scary for the BYU defense. This may be the most balanced offense that BYU has played all season; luckily Bronco will have had a few weeks to put together a good scheme. The good news for BYU is that Price has been sacked 27 times this season. Now, that’s not as many as Taysom (32), but it still shows that BYU will have the chance to get to the quarterback.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (WR): He has not put up insane numbers, but he will be a matchup issue for BYU. While the other top UW receivers are under 6’0, Seferian-Jenkins comes in at 6-6. Once again,when UW dials up a pass, BYU has to account for him and Sanky in the passing game.
But should BYU be worried? I am inclined to say no. BYU has the offense to keep up with UW and I think the BYU defense, which has had a bit of a downer year, will be ready to stop the run (or at least I hope so). They have been handled by Notre Dame and Wisconsin in the run game and they will have had time to correct their errors. KVN seems to always have one or two more tricks up his sleeve and I expect a big performance from him. The biggest question mark is, as always, the secondary play.
What BYU Needs to do to Win:
BYU is in for a big test with UW. The key to a BYU win rests in these three important statistics:
Red Zone Conversion: BYU has been sluggish in the “blue zone” (blue for ice cold) and ranks 71st in red zone scoring. UW, however, is 19th and scores on 89.5% of their red zone possessions. How many games have you thought, “If we would have just scored a touchdown or two in the red zone, that game would have been different”?
Penalties: Luckily for BYU they are playing a team that is penalized even more than they are. BYU is 117th and UW is 123rd in penalties. BYU has to win the penalty contest to win this game. All I want for Christmas is for the O-line to not have a false start in the red zone. PLEASE?
Third Down Conversion: UW converts on 50% of their 3rd downs (good for 10th nationally). BYU, on the other hand, is not so good at 37%. We have seen the offense seem unstoppable and then unmovable the next drive. 3 and outs will be a big indicator of the outcome of the game.
Washington comes into the game favored to win, with better total offense and total defense. It will be a great game to watch. I am excited that BYU will have a chance to play a good opponent and get a nice win against the Pac12 to end the season. I am not saying it will come easy but BYU has just as good of a chance of coming out with a win as UW.
Prediction: BYU 38, UW 35
—What is your prediction for the game? Comment below…—