BRIGHAM YOUNG COUGARS (8-4)
vs. WASHINGTON HUSKIES (8-4)
Fight Hunger Bowl
AT&T Park Ė San Francisco, CA
Kickoff: Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET
Line: Washington -3, Total: 60
Brigham Young attempts to win its fifth bowl game in as many years when it takes on a Washington team looking to end a two-game bowl losing skid.
BYU has done well since becoming an Independent in 2011 and went 8-4 SU (6-6 ATS) this season while getting solid wins against fellow bowl participants Texas (40-21), Georgia Tech (38-20), Utah State (31-14) and Boise State (37-20). The Cougars did not finish strong though, going 1-3 ATS (2-2 SU) in their final four games. BYU's strength is its defense, which allowed only 21.3 PPG (22nd in nation) this season. The Cougars were the favorite in the Poinsettia Bowl last season when they played San Diego State and came away with a 23-6 victory while covering the 3-point spread. The Huskies had a strong season, but could not make much noise in the tough Pac-12, finishing with a 5-4 conference record. They closed the season strong though, winning four of their final five games (2-3 ATS) and averaged 45.4 PPG in the process. Unlike their opponent, Washington has not fared well in bowl games of late, losing its past two postseason games. Last year they met Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, losing 28-26 but covering the 4-point spread as underdogs. The last time that these two schools met was in 2010 when BYU won 23-17 at home as 1.5-point underdogs in a turnover-free game by both teams. BYU is 7-25 ATS (22%) after a two-game road trip since 1992, but it has gone 9-1 ATS as an underdog over the past three seasons, holding these favored opponents to a mere 20.7 PPG.
Which explosive offense will outscore the other one on Friday night? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013-14 bowl season. The four experts finished the regular season a collective 51.1% ATS (120-115-7) on college football Best Bets, led by StatFox Dave's stellar 57% ATS (35-25-2) mark. This included a 64% ATS (23-13-2) record in his final 11 weeks. StatFox Gary was 2-1 ATS in the final week to finish 53% ATS (21-19-1) in the regular season. Gary was 56% ATS (20-16-1) in college football Best Bets since Week 3. StatFox Brian also finished strong with a 3-1 ATS mark on Best Bets in Championship Week, giving him his fourth straight winning season of college football Best Bets at 52% ATS (33-30-1). StatFox Scott is looking to repeat a huge 2012-13 bowl season, when he posted a 71% ATS mark in Best Bets (5-2-1).
The Cougars are a well-balanced offense (495 total YPG, 14th in nation) and did enough to help their defense stay off the field and win games. Dual-threat QB Taysom Hill threw for 2,645 yards (6.8 YPA) and 19 touchdowns, but struggling with turnovers, throwing 13 interceptions. He had only three games on the year that he did not throw an interception, but did finish the year with six multi-touchdown games in his final eight contests. On the ground, Hill was the teamís leading rusher with 1,211 yards (5.6 YPC) and added nine rushing touchdowns. He ran for more than 100 yards five different times this season, including each of the past two games. Helping Hill out in the ground game is sophomore HB Jamaal Williams who has nearly equaled the speedy quarterback with 1,202 rushing yards (5.9 YPC) and seven touchdowns. He is coming off his best game of the season as he tallied 219 yards rushing on just 15 carries (14.6 YPC) and scored a touchdown in the teamís 28-23 win at Nevada. Senior WR Cody Hoffman (45 rec., 727 yards, 5 TD) has been mentioned as a future NFL player, but his production is way down from 2012 when he caught 100 passes for 1,248 yards and 11 TD. He has also struggled recently though, averaging just 30 receiving YPG over his past three games. Senior LB Kyle Van Noy (55 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 INT) is regarded as one of the top linebackers in the country and helped the Cougars hold opponents to just 21.3 PPG on the season. This is in spite of allowing 384 total YPG (158 rush YPG, 226 pass YPG). BYU has kept the points down by forcing 20 turnovers in the past nine games.
Washington wasnít really a huge threat offensively for most of the season, but QB Keith Price and HB Bishop Sankey turned on the afterburners late and put up some gaudy offensive numbers to finish up the year. Price totaled 2,843 passing yards (8.6 YPA) and threw 20 touchdowns to only five interceptions. He threw only one pick over his final five games, and averaged 253.4 passing YPG in that time. Sankey is expected to be a high pick in the upcoming NFL Draft and beefed up his stock with the third highest rushing total in the country (1,775 yards) on 5.8 YPC while adding 19 total touchdowns (18 rushing). He scored a rushing touchdown in every game this season and ran for multiple scores on five different occasions. Sankey also added 298 receiving yards (11.9 avg.) to the offense as well. WR Kevin Smith led the team with 722 receiving yards on 45 catches (16.0 avg.) and added four touchdowns. While Smith was the main target, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins led the team with seven touchdown catches and expects to be playing on Sundays next season. The Pac-12 has many teams who can put up absolutely ridiculous offensive numbers, so the fact that senior DB Sean Parker (60 tackles, 4 INT) and the rest of the Huskies defense allowed only 23.4 PPG to their opponents on the season is a success. They have also surrendered 382 total YPG (160 rushing YPG, 222 passing YPG), but on a strong 5.0 yards per play. Washington has produced at least two takeaways in each of the past four contests, totaling 11 forced turnovers during this stretch.