When and where: September 21, 2019, LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT, 3:30 PM ET
The No. 22-ranked Washington Huskies go on the road for the first time in the season on Saturday for a much-anticipated showdown with the BYU Cougars. After falling to California, the Huskies bounced back with a 52-20 win over Hawaii in Week 3. They’ll be in for a dangerous test against BYU, who knocked off Tennessee and USC in back-to-back weeks.
Washington gets back on track
A colossal letdown of a performance against California had the Huskies trying to make sense of their offensive shortcomings. They were held to only 348 yards of total offense in the 20-19 loss. Junior quarterback Jacob Eason was pretty much a non-factor, throwing for 162 yards and one interception. Instead, the team was forced to lean heavily on running back Salvon Ahmed, who ran for 119 yards and one touchdown with 21 carries.
Eason did bounce back against Hawaii with 262 passing yards and three touchdowns.
The hope for the Cougars is this isn’t the season-long formula because it would really hurt their ability to strike an offensive balance. Saturday’s game against BYU offers a great opportunity for Eason to step up and make the tough throws against a talented secondary. BYU has been solid against the pass this season with opponents averaging 187.7 yards per game through the air.
Yet, I would still expect Ahmed and the rushing attack to be the primary focus in this game with the struggles upfront for the Cougars, who are giving away an average of 225.0 yards per game on the ground.
As for the high altitude in Provo, head coach Chris Petersen isn’t really worried.
“That has nothing to do with nothing,” Petersen said, “except that the kickers might kick the ball a little further. That’s one thing I think that could happen.
“We’ve been at altitude many times. We’ve been at Wyoming … a bunch of times, I have. The only time I’ve ever seen it at 7,200 feet affect our team is when we had a 17-play drive once. And that’s it. That was the only time I knew they were tired coming off, but both teams were tired after a 17-play drive.”
Cougars in position to make a statement
Most laughed when the Cougars went on the road and defeated Tennessee, but there wasn’t so much as a chuckle when they knocked off USC last week at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Imagine if they do the same thing to the Huskies on Saturday.
The Cougars could make a real statement and climb back into the top-25 rankings by defeating USC and Washington in back-to-back weeks. Another upset win would call for a herculean effort from their defensive front to stop allowing opposing teams to gash them on the ground. The last thing BYU needs is Ahmed feasting on yards and Eason getting comfortable in the pocket.
Teams have been able to move the ball against the Cougars’ defense fairly easily, and they’ll once again be tested by a Huskies offense averaging 456.0 total yards per game. Cougars sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson hasn’t shown the best of accuracy, but he also isn’t shying away from clutch moments, which seem to come on a weekly basis. They’ll need another one of those moments on Saturday to beat the Huskies.
- Huskies are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game.
- Huskies are 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 meetings.
- Underdog is 2-5-1 ATS in their last 8 meetings.