While the departure of Steve Sarkisian has made for an eventful
past couple of weeks for Washington, BYU has been stable at the top
throughout an impressive run of bowl success.
Interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo will try to lead the Huskies to
their highest win total in 13 years, and the Cougars go for their
seventh victory in eight bowl games Friday at the Fight Hunger Bowl
in San Francisco.
Tuiasosopo was given the opportunity to coach Washington (8-4)
after Sarkisian left to take the job at Southern California
following a 27-17 Apple Cup win over Washington State in the
regular-season finale Nov. 29. Sarkisian finished his Washington
career 34-29 over five seasons, directing the Huskies to eight wins
for the first time since 2001 this year.
Chris Petersen, who went 92-12 at Boise State with five
conference titles and two Fiesta Bowl victories, has been hired to
take over the program starting next season.
In the meantime, Tuiasosopo has the chance to savor his first
head coaching experience of any kind. The 34-year-old former
signal-caller is in his first season as Washington’s quarterbacks
coach after serving as an assistant under Jim Mora at UCLA.
He’ll try to guide the Huskies to their best season since he
earned Rose Bowl MVP honors in 2000, when they finished 11-1 with a
34-24 win over Drew Brees and Purdue.
“I’m humbled and so honored,” said Tuiasosopo, who played for
six seasons with the Oakland Raiders. ”It’s a great, incredible
honor to lead my alma mater in a bowl game. We still have a lot to
play for this season. I am excited to go out and get a ninth
Although a three-game losing streak in October took them out of
contention in the Pac-12, the Huskies bounced back to win four of
their last five and secure a fourth straight bowl appearance. They
had missed out on the postseason for seven straight years from
Washington has dropped its last two appearances, including 28-26
to Petersen’s Boise State team in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 22,
The Huskies have split eight all-time meetings with the Cougars
(8-4), though BYU has won the last three. In the most recent
matchup, the Cougars pulled out a 23-17 victory in Provo on Sept.
Following a five-game winning streak that made the program bowl
eligible for a ninth straight season, BYU lost two of three before
capping the regular season with a 28-23 win at Nevada on Nov.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity to play Washington in
the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco,” coach Bronco Mendenhall
said. “I’m proud of our team. We are excited to be in the
postseason for the ninth straight year with a chance to grow our
program facing an outstanding football program.”
The Cougars have had quite a bit of bowl success since
Mendenhall took over in 2005, winning six of eight overall and four
straight following last season’s 23-6 victory over San Diego State
in the Poinsettia Bowl.
This matchup features three of the nation’s most prolific
rushers in Washington running back Bishop Sankey, BYU quarterback
Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams, as well as one of the
country’s top passers in Washington’s Keith Price.
Sankey is third nationally with a school-record 1,775 yards on
5.8 per carry and 18 touchdowns. He’s coming off one of his best
performances of the season with 200 yards and a score on 34 carries
against Washington State.
Hill is 21st with 1,211 rushing yards and nine scores while also
throwing for 2,645 yards with 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Williams is just behind Hill with 1,202 yards on 5.9 per carry and
seven touchdowns after running 15 times for a career-high 219 yards
and a TD in the regular-season finale.
The sophomores are the first duo with over 1,000 rushing yards
in a season for the Cougars, who are 73-8 under Mendenhall when
scoring 24 or more.
Price ranks 25th nationally with a 65.5 completion percentage
and 258.5 passing yards per game. The senior has 20 touchdown
passes and five interceptions, throwing only one pick over his last
While the Huskies have one of the nation’s top offenses with
38.5 points per game, they could have their hands full with a BYU
defense that’s allowed an average of 21.3.