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What you need to Know: BYU vs. Washington

BYU and Washington will match up for the ninth time on Friday when they meet in San Francisco for the Fight Hunger Bowl. With both teams looking to end the season with a win, it should make for an entertaining evening.

Taysom Hill rushes for a touchdown against Nevada
Taysom Hill rushes for a touchdown against Nevada
Lance Iversen/USA TODAY Sports

The History

When BYU and Washington match up on Friday in the Fight Hunger bowl, it will be the ninth matchup between the schools. Right now the two teams are deadlocked with four wins apiece. BYU has won the last three meetings, but also endured a four game losing streak from 1986-1998. The first game between the schools was in Provo in 1985. The most recent meeting took place in 2010, also in Provo.

Seattle, Washington 2008 (3-4)

BYU travelled to Seattle with an 11 game win streak on the line and it took a penalty and a specials teams play for the Cougars to come out with a win. Riding the connection of junior quarterback Max Hall and junior tight end Dennis Pitta, the Cougars came out of the gate firing. The first touchdown for the Cougars came on the first drive of the game on a 3rd-and-14 when Hall connected with Austin Collie for a 38-yard pass. Washington evened up the score when quarterback Jake Locker scored on a 14-yard rush. The Huskies took the lead in the second quarter after a converted 3rd-and-23 and then a late hit on the Cougars. After getting the ball back, the Cougars marched down the field and tied the game on a one-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Andrew George. With all the scoring done for the half the teams went into the locker room tied up at 14.

Washington was quick to start the scoring in the second half when they scored on a one-yard rush by Luke Kravitz. BYU matched the score with an 11-yard rush of their own by Fui Vakapuna. After forcing the Huskies to punt, the Cougars offense gave BYU the lead on a 15-yard pass from Hall to Pitta with a little over three minutes left in the game. Washington would take advantage of the time given by marching down to the three-yard line. Unable to stop the Huskies, Locker ran the ball into the end-zone and threw the ball up in celebration. By rule the toss was ruled a celebration and the Huskies were hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. With the potential game tying extra point coming from 35-yards out instead of the normal 20, junior Jan Jorgensen blocked the extra point with two seconds on the clock. BYU walked out with the 28-27 win and their 12 consecutive win, dating back to 2007. Hall ended up 30-41 with 338 yards and three touchdowns while Pitta ended with 10 receptions for 148 yards and a touchdown.

Provo, Utah 2010 (4-4)

In the Huskies return trip to Provo, the Cougars were able to hold on for a 23-17 victory. BYU used two quarterbacks, Jake Heaps and Riley Nelson, and both ended with 131 yards of passing. Washington scored first on a 73-yard drive that was capped off with a 19-yard pass from Jake Locker to Jermaine Kearse. The Cougars didn't answer right away but they did get their first points when a bad snap went over Washington's punters head and rolled 39 yards into the end zone before being thrown out the back for a safety. With 31 seconds left in the first quarter, BYU hit a 22-yard field goal to make the score 7-5. The Cougars scored again in the second quarter on a nine-yard pass from Nelson to Joshua Quezada for his first reception, and first touchdown, as a Cougar. After Nelson scrambled to convert the two-point conversion, the Cougars held the lead 13-7. Locker would answer on a nine-yard scramble to take back the lead. As the half ended, Erik Folk converted on a 54-yard field goal to put the Huskies up 17-13.

BYU held the Huskies scoreless in the second half but the Cougars made sure to put points on the board. Matt Payne hit his second field goal of the day, a 29 yard attempt, early in the third quarter to pull within one. Late in the third quarter Nelson found JJ Di Luigi for a 48-yard touchdown pass to provide the final scoring of the game. With less than two-minutes left in the game, and inside the Cougars 30 yard line, Eathyn Manumaleunaa tipped a fourth down pass attempt to end the Huskies rally. The stat of the night went to Di Luigi as he had 152 all-purpose yards. He caught four passes for 83 yards and a touchdown while adding 13 rushes for 69 yards.

The Outlook

After a sluggish end to the regular season, the Cougars look to end the season on a positive note and build some momentum going into next season. The Cougars are 6-2 in bowl games under Coach Mendenhall and are on a four game bowl winning streak. Washington could be the best team that a Mendenhall led team has faced in a bowl game, so it should be an interesting and exciting game.

The Positives

Once the running game started clicking, it was hard to complain about the results. As a team the Cougars averaged 8.8 yards per carry for a total of 394 yards rushing. Jamaal Williams did the most damage with 219 yards rushing on only 15 carries, including a 66 yard touchdown. Taysom Hill continued to rush his way into the hearts of Cougars fans by adding 154 yards and a touchdown.

Even though the Cougars didn't display much in the way of yards in the passing game, Hill was efficient with only four incomplete passes, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He failed to break the 100 yard mark but with the running game working in the second half, the Cougars didn't need to pass much.

The Negatives

The first half offense was abysmal. BYU couldn't move the ball through the air or on the ground. The Cougars were lucky to be only down by seven at the half and the Cougars must find a way to avoid another slow start against Washington. BYU had six drives in the first half and only one of the drives reached six plays. Five of the drives ended in punts and the other ended with a turnover on downs.

The defense kept the Cougars in the game until the offense came out of the locker room at halftime. Unfortunately, the defense also gave up to many yards and thus, field possession. Nevada had 12 drives for the game and six of them went at least 44 yards, five of them going for 66 or more. With the field possession swinging towards Nevada, a struggling offense was put in even a tougher bind. Controlling the field possession is a must against good teams and can make the difference between a win or a loss.

The Match-ups

Runners vs. Rush Defense: This game matches up three of the top rushers in the nation and defenses that are looking to prove they are better than people give them credit for. The Huskies top offensive threat is running back Bishop Sankey. Right now he ranks third nationally after breaking the school record for rushing yards with 1,775 and 18 touchdowns. BYU counters with Hill and Williams. Hill has 1,211 yards on the ground and nine touchdowns while Williams has added 1,202 yards and seven touchdowns. Both defenses will be keying in on the rush and will try to make the opponent win through the air.

Keith Price vs. BYU secondary: With the Cougars defense trying to stop the run, Huskies quarterback Keith Price will have some opportunities to throw the ball. Coming into the game Price is completing more than 65 percent of his passes and 20 touchdowns to five interceptions. This might be the toughest test through the air for the young secondary and they will need to be on the top of their game to keep from giving up points and yards.

For a full breakdown of the Huskies, read the Know the Foe piece from MB Murray.

The Keys to Watch

When Washington has the ball: Watch for the Huskies to try and get Sankey going early and often. If they can force the Cougars to bring up extra bodies into the box, they can open up the middle of the field for the talented tight ends and force some one on one coverage with the cougars secondary. Look for BYU front line to put pressure on the offensive line and try to open up holes for the linebackers to slip through. The defense will try to minimize the players that need to be in the box to stop the run so the secondary has a little more help. Don't expect Kyle Van Noy to replicate his bowl performance from last year, but look for his name to be called early and often.

When BYU has the ball: Watch for Hill and Williams to probe and push a statistically mediocre rush defense. Watch for the Cougars to use the pass to set up the run early in the game. Don't expect them to slow down the tempo of the game as they would love to face a tired defense in the fourth quarter. Watch for the Huskies to shore up the rush defense. The rushing stats might be a bit misleading as they have faced some very good rushers throughout the year and so they feel they are much better than what is put on paper. As the defense focuses on the run, they will try to make the Cougars beat them through the air and so the Cougar receivers will need to be on their game when called upon to make plays.

Interesting Tidbit

Sticking to the name of the bowl, the Fight Hunger Bowl, the bowl donates and helps with local charities in connection to the bowl. For every ticket that is sold, a meal is donated by the bowl so the fans can get involved as they buy their tickets. On Christmas both teams will help by preparing and serving meals to those in need. To find out where the teams will be serving on Christmas, read the full article here.

Next Meeting

At this time there is not a contracted game between the schools for future games.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 7:30 MST

Where: AT&T Park-San Francisco, CA


Internet: WatchESPN