Friday, September 05, 2008
What: BYU @ Washington
Where: Husky Stadium, Seattle WA
When: September 6, 2008; 1 p.m. MDT
Of interest: BYU and Washington have a short, but very nasty history. It all started in 1984 when BYU won the national championship by beating 6-5 Michigan. The Cougars got the nod, beating out No. 2 Washington who had beaten 9-2 Oklahoma before the final polls were released. Needless to say, Husky faithful feel like they deserved the championship by virtue of their quality wins over tougher opponents. The wound is very fresh in the hearts of Husky fans.
The Cougars put a stamp of approval on the 1984 championship bid, however, by dismantling Washington 31-3 to start the 1985 season.
In 1996 the Cougars and Huskies met once again in Seattle. The Cougars were coming off a thrilling victory over Texas A&M in the Pigskin Classic, and were ranked No. 19 in the country at the time. BYU unveiled their infamous all-white uniforms in the game, and were in turn humbled by Washington. BYU lost the game 29-17, and that loss turned out to be the only blemish on a 14-1 season.
The last time BYU and Washington met was in 1999 in Provo, when now-UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel and his Huskies lost on a last-second TD grab from BYU's Chris Hale.
Washington owns a 4-2 record on the overall series, and BYU is 0-3 in Seattle.
About the Huskies: Washington has a strong and proud football tradition, but are right now experiencing a Gary Crowton-esque slump. They have been in the bottom two of the Pac-10 for four straight years, and started the 2008 season by getting thumped in Oregon by the Ducks 44-10.
Key Returner: Without a doubt the key player on Washington's squad is QB Jake Locker. Locker has been on the receiving end of a lot of hype, and deservedly so. He rushed for nearly a thousand yards last year, and tossed 14 TDs. He is a special athlete, but Locker is not the strongest passer. He completed just a shade over 47% of his passes last year, and threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns.
Last week Locker, who may still be sore from a pulled hamstring in fall camp, ran for 57 yards and completed 12 of 28 passes for 103 yards. Not a stellar outing by any means.
Key losses: The Huskies lost five--FIVE--wide receivers to graduation last year, and will therefore start only one, sophomore D'Andre Goodwin, who has game-time experience. The other three receivers on their 2008 depth chart are freshmen--something that won't make Locker's job throwing the ball any easier.
Additionally, Washington lost its leading tackler in 2007, linebacker E.J. Savannah, to academic ineligibility.
Matching up: This game, if BYU plays it right, could end up being a Husky bloodbath. BYU's high flying offense will be matched up against an inexperienced and unproven Washington defense, and Washington's offense could struggle mightily to put points on the board, especially if Locker can't rely on his receivers.
Locker is an athlete and he'll make plays, but if BYU can effectively key in on Locker's running ability and force him to beat us through the air, things will get ugly quick for U-dub. I just don't think Locker has the arm, and I don't think his receivers are reliable.
Adam's Take: This game, I believe, will set the tone for the entire season. This game will decide if we are a BCS bowl-caliber team. If we can go into Husky stadium and do something that we have never done before under Bronco Mendenhall--namely, get an out-of-conference win on the road--then our dreams of a BCS bowl will be that much more reachable.
The only thing that stands in BYU's way is themselves. If we come out timid, intimidated and sloppy (like we've done in the past), then the Huskies could steal it from us.
If we play to our capabilities, though, and simply execute on the road like we do at home (but limit the turnovers this time), then BYU will roll.
My prediction: BYU finally rips the monkey off their backs. BYU 31, Washington 20.
Sources: Washington News release, CougarStats, ESPN Standings, Rivals.com