I have a good feeling about this game and see the Dawgs winning very convincingly. While BYU’s offense can generate some big plays if the Huskies are caught out of position or don’t remain disciplined through all the pre-snap shifts and motions, they aren’t terribly explosive or efficient, ranking 90th in S&P+. They’re big and physical, but not terribly fast. Their pass game isn’t very dangerous either with Tanner Mangum, and coming out throwing against Washington’s DBs in Husky Stadium is usually a recipe for disaster. I expect an ASU-style game plan with patience and a heavy dose of the run game. However, the Huskies are equipped to handle it and shouldn’t yield any worse than 4 yards per carry. Outside of Squally Canada, who might get loose a couple times, BYU doesn’t have many weapons.
Defensively, BYU is pretty similar: big and physical, but a little slow. They certainly have the ability to frustrate Washington’s offense; they are sound tacklers who don’t give up big plays. If Washington can’t generate explosive pass plays, they will need to put together long drives with a heavy dose of Myles Gaskin. The Arizona State game has given me slight confidence that this offense is beginning to find its footing, and playing at home, Washington should be able to keep Brigham Young at arm’s length for four quarters.
Washington 38, BYU 14
The Huskies’ win over ASU was solid if unspectacular. The primary reason that ASU hung in the game into the fourth quarter boils down to two plays: the first-quarter interception on a WR pass and the long punt return by N’Keal Harry. Those two mistakes led to ASU’s only two TDs of the game.
BYU, on the other hand, has a signature win at Wisconsin on which to hang their hat. That game also swung on a few big plays—two 40+ yard runs by Squally Canada, an interception by Alex Hornibrook, and a missed FG to tie the game late. Other than that game (and arguably, only a few big plays in the game), BYU has been largely inefficient. They rank poorly on a per-play basis both offensively and defensively.
UW should be able to limit BYU’s long runs. The Huskies have only yielded one play of 30+ yards all season. The offense made far fewer mistakes last week against ASU than against elite Utah and Auburn defenses, and that trend should continue against another mid-level defense. Mistakes in any facet—including special teams—could swing the result, but mistakes by BYU could also swing the outcome into a Husky blowout.
Washington 30, BYU 17
I feel like this one’ll be sort of a combination of the ASU and Utah games, stylistically, but in ways that benefit Washington in all phases. BYU’s defense reminds me of both of those opposing ones but errs more to the Utah side; for the fourth of five games, I could see Washington’s offense having to play disciplined and patient, but ultimately getting the best of their opponents. Furthermore, it’ll be interesting to see if the Dawgs’ offensive line can continue their solid play from last week against a pass rush that’s a step up and an interior defensive line that’s crazy powerful (seriously, watch some of their bull rushes—it’s nuts). Really, UW’s offensive performance should come down to how well the line can pull their weight. I’d be shocked with neither a performance just as good as last Saturday, nor with one that’s less consistent.
On the defensive side, I find it difficult to picture BYU’s offense being particularly effective. We’ll likely see a similar game plan to what ASU brought out last week as far as committing to the run and hoping their own defense can stall Washington’s firepower long enough that their own offense doesn’t have to play catchup through the air. If the Husky offense starts fast, then they’ll be making the defense’s job pretty easy. In a battle of Tanner Mangum’s arm versus UW’s secondary, I’d take the Husky DBs every time and it’s not close. If not, then I still expect the Washington defense to clearly be the superior unit, but they’ll probably have some prolonged drives where they have to stay on the field against Squally Canada’s tough running game and will end up surrendering a bit more.
Final (if UW’s offense comes out with their crap together): UW 31 - 13 BYU
Final (if UW’s offense takes a while to find their rhythm): UW 28 - 17 BYU
Editor’s note: Gabey, it isn’t a real prediction if you make two of them. I’m averaging them together. Take that.
Washington 30, BYU 15
The Huskies are in for another grinder of a game with the BYU Cougars coming to town. I find this one especially difficult to forecast because the high possibility of UW rolling out a significantly different defensive strategy from what we’ve seen in the other three matchups with FBS teams.
The Cougars present a run-oriented offense shaped in the hard-nosed mold of head coach Kalani Sitake. It is very unlikely that BYU is going to pressure UW through the air, even if UW commits an extra body to run support. Will Jimmy Lake do so? Or will he run a six-man box and challenge Sitake to a game of chicken, even if it costs him 5 yards per carry surrendered and a bunch of snaps for his D? I have a feeling he’ll be more aggressive in run D than what we’ve seen to date.
Offensively, I’m sensing the Huskies are getting closer to a breakout. The step forward by the O-line last week was encouraging. The BYU front seven is sneaky good, but their secondary will be the weakest that UW has faced among FBS teams. I can see Bush Hamdan dialing up some opportunities to get receivers vertical and get that passing game on track.
Washington 28, BYU 6
Looking back to August in the midst of fall camp, I never would have guessed that Saturday’s contest between the Huskies and the Cougars would be a matchup of ranked teams. After all, BYU is coming off of a disastrous 4–9 season that at one point included seven consecutive losses, and their 2018 offense is producing an anemic 4.83 yards per play, ranked 113th nationally and just ahead of No. 117 UCLA, which is dead last in the Pac-12.
Of course, everything changed two weeks ago, when the Cougars went into Camp Randall Stadium and knocked off the No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers, who had been a popular preseason dark horse selection for the College Football Playoff. BYU won that day thanks to a standout performance by running back Squally Canada (11 carries for 118 yards and two touchdowns) and by playing disciplined football, committing zero turnovers and not fumbling once. In short, they made few unforced errors.
To avoid Wisconsin’s fate, Washington is going to need to put BYU into a position of having to take the kind of chances that they never did against the Badgers. For one, the Huskies should bring JoJo Mcintosh closer to the line of scrimmage and have him play primarily in run support, forcing Tanner Mangum and BYU’s receivers to beat the Washington secondary in enough one-on-one matchups to force the Huskies defense to back off. If Washington can hold tight in that scenario, it’s hard to see how the Cougars can move the ball efficiently enough against the stingy UW defense. Of course, this is all predicated on the assumption that Washington’s offense can land enough punches against BYU, whose defense (17.0 points per game and 6.0 yards per pass attempt) isn’t exactly a sieve.
This is the sort of game that the Huskies ought to win: at home, against an impressive (if not elite) opponent. I think the improvement we saw last week, particularly in the form of Jake Browning’s play in the face of opposing pass rushers, will be enough to deliver a comfortable victory over a quality non-conference opponent.
Washington 34, BYU 17