No surprises going into the game, which was always going to be about running the ball. Bishop Sankey for Washington on one side, Taysom Hill for BYU on the other side. The Cougars quarterback actually picked up more yards than the Huskies star, but it was the Pac-12 team that put on a better defensive performance to claim the 31-16 win in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
Sankey might have played in his final collegiate game, rushing for 95 yards on 21 carries, scoring a couple of touchdowns. He finished the season with 1870 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, pulling off 2174 yards from scrimmage. He has one more year to play, but there’s a very good chance that after the last couple of seasons and the amount of work he has to through being used as a workhorse power back, it’s time for him to take his game to the pro level.
Tayson Hill was everywhere, but being alone wasn’t enough. He threw for 293 yards but completed just 25 of his 48 passing attempts, throwing one interception. He ran for 133 yards on 31 carries, as the Cougars ran only 16 plays without him actually being the focal point of the play. They finished averaging only 3.8 yards per carry, while Washington ran for 190 yards. There wasn’t that much difference offensively (Washington were bit more efficient). The play that made most of the difference was freshman John Ross returning the ball 100 yards for the touchdown, helping Washington win their first bowl game since 2010.
At 9-4 (5-4 in the Pac-12), this is Washington’s best season since 2000, when they finished the year at #3 in the nation, winning the conference and went to the Rose Bowl, beating Purdue and Drew Brees. Their quaterback back then was Marques Tuiasosopo, the current quarterbacks coach and the one who was calling the shots on the sidelines while the Huskies wait for the transition period between Steve Sarkisian (going to USC) and Chris Andersen (coming from Boise State) to end.
Washington still are inferior to the major powers in the Pac-12 North, with Oregon and Stanford seemingly a step ahead of them in recent years and probably a bit more, but it’s hard to argue this program is heading in the right direction. They missed out on a bowl game for seven consecutive seasons after losing to Purdue in the 2002, but have now made four in a row, winning two of them. It’s going to take a lot of work and time before the Rose Bowl becomes a legitimate bowl to think about, but a win over a tough BYU (8-5) team shows that they’re still on the right upwards path.
Quaterback Keith Price played his final game for the team, finishing with 123 yards on 17-of-22 passing, throwing one touchdown pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins but also throwing one interception. Cyler Miles, who’ll be taking over Price’s spot from next season, didn’t do anything impressive, completing only 1-of-5 for 6 yards, while doing a bit better on the ground, running twice for 30 yards as part of Washington’s very effective ground game, which will be very different next season without Sankey.