NO. 22 WASHINGTON (2-1) vs. BYU (2-1)
When: 12:30 p.m. PT, Saturday
Where: LaVell Edwards Stadium
TV: ABC/ESPN (See coverage map)
Radio: KOMO-AM 1000/FM-97.7
Outlook: Washington bounced back from a one-point loss to Cal with a 52-20 victory over Hawaii last week. BYU picked up its second straight victory, topping USC a week after defeating Tennessee. The Huskies defeated BYU, 35-7, last season.
The Cougars are led by quarterback Zach Wilson, who has completed 60-of-95 passes for 720 yards and two touchdowns. More on him later, down there in the BYU player to watch section.
Wide receiver Micah Simon is the Cougars’ leading receiver. He has 210 yards on 13 receptions. Matt Bushman, a 6-foot-5 tight end, is averaging more than 13 yards per catch on his nine receptions. On the ground, BYU is paced by running back Ty’Son Williams, who is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and has three touchdowns.
“They’re different on offense for sure,” UW coach Chris Petersen of BYU’s growth since last season. “They definitely changed, tweaked their system. They were so heavily run oriented. They still want to run the ball, but it’s different. I think (Wilson) makes them better. He’s a really good player. Super athletic. Gets the ball out quick. He’s got some moxie to him.”
Defensively, the Cougars are allowing 27.7 points per game.
“On defense, they have a lot of guys back but they also play a lot of guys,” Petersen said, “which is something we kind of like to do around here. They have a lot of depth.”
UW is coming off a balanced offensive performance against Hawaii. The Huskies scored seven touchdowns in the victory.
Jacob Eason completed 18-of-25 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Salvon Ahmed, Richard Newton and Sean McGrew each had eight carries, finishing with 83, 29 and 63 yards respectively. Tight end Hunter Bryant was the leading receiver, recording five catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.
UW player to watch: Puka Nacua. It’s a homecoming for the true freshman wide receiver from Provo, Utah. He made his first collegiate catch last week, and it also happened to be his first collegiate touchdown. Petersen said after the game that Nacua will continue to get more snaps, so he could take another step forward against BYU.
BYU player to watch: Wilson. The Cougars’ quarterback didn’t play against the Huskies last season and adds a dynamic element to BYU’s offense. Wilson excels at throwing on the run, which is something UW will be focused on stopping. The Huskies have struggled against mobile quarterbacks this season, so Wilson will be a test.
Keep an eye on: The third quarter. For reasons nobody can explain, the third quarter has been rough on UW’s defense during the last two games. Without the third quarter, the Huskies wouldn’t have allowed a touchdown against Cal and the Golden Bears would have finished with just six points and 155 yards. Take the third quarter out of the victory over Hawaii and UW would have given up just a single touchdown and 249 total yards.