Strong special teams aids Washington in 31-16 win over BYU in Fight Hunger Bowl
BYU came into the Fight Hunger Bowl having won four straight bowl games, but a fifth wasn't to be had as Washington knocked off the Cougars, 31-16, on Friday night. Former coach Steve Sarkisian is now at USC, but the players he brought in found a way to get the Huskies to nine wins, the most since 2000's Rose Bowl season under Rick Neuheisel with quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo.
Washington was led by Tuiasosopo, now interim head coach, while the Huskies wait for Chris Petersen to pull his staff together, recruit and take over long term.
Even though BYU outgained Washington 297-142 at the half, the Huskies carried a 21-16 lead thanks in large part to two big kickoff returns, one for a 100-yard touchdown by John Ross. The Cougars also settled for three first half field goals. Washington got the ball out of the break and led an impressive 10-play, 62-yard drive that ended in a Keith Price to Austin Seferian-Jenkins 16-yard score, putting the Huskies up 28-16.
Taysom Hill has been a bit of a mixed bag this year, but he wasn't the problem against Washington. Hill was 25-for-48 for 293 yards with 133 rush yards and a rushing score, but he and the rest of the BYU offense couldn't make enough plays to negate the abysmal performance by the Cougars' special teams unit, which also had a missed field goal and a shanked punt.
Washington running back Bishop Sankey (96 yards, 2 TD) hasn't yet declared for the 2014 NFL Draft, but it might be a wise decision for the junior, who had 2,169 total yards and 21 touchdowns this season. His ability to do special things whenever he gets in space should make him desirous to a majority of NFL franchises, but he will be most successful in a place that finds creative ways to get him the football. Sankey and Price both went out of the game in the second half with injury, but it was probably more than a bit precautionary. Petersen immediately makes the Huskies a fun sleeper in the Pac-12 next year. With Price graduating and Sankey perhaps NFL-bound, the former Boise State coach won't have much margin for error early on, although having a quarterback with the recruiting profile of redshirt freshman Cyler Miles should make things a bit easier.