BYU Cougars (8-4) vs. Washington Huskies (8-4)
Dec. 27, 9:30 p.m. ET, San Francisco (ESPN)
BYU COUGARS BREAKDOWN
After a year of playing all over the country, from Virginia to Houston to Wisconsin to Notre Dame, why not make one more trip? The Cougars finished their third season as an FBS independent with a win over Nevada last week and immediately accepted a bid to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
The Cougars won eight games, six against teams going to bowl games, thanks to a top-25-scoring defense and a potent run game led by quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams, who each surpassed 1,200 rushing yards and combined for 16 touchdowns.
BYU has won its past four bowl games and is bowling in California for a second consecutive season after knocking off San Diego State 23-6 in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl last year. -- Max Olson
WASHINGTON HUSKIES BREAKDOWN
The news that coach Steve Sarkisian was headed to USC was quickly trumped by the hiring of Boise State’s Chris Petersen -- though it will be quarterbacks coach and former UW QB Marques Tuiasosopo who leads the Huskies into the bowl season.
Led by Doak Walker Award finalist Bishop Sankey, the Huskies finally got over the seven-win hump that had been plaguing them of late. Sankey became a national name for his performance in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl loss to Boise State. He has exceeded the hype this year and has been a workhorse back. Sankey has proven to be one of the most complete skill players in the country with 1,775 yards (5.8 per carry) and 18 touchdowns on 306 carries. He also has snagged 25 balls for 298 yards and a score.
Quarterback Keith Price has looked more like his 2011 self -- mostly because of stability along the offensive line, which has helped the Huskies average 38.5 points per game.
After a midseason skid that saw three straight losses (at Stanford, vs. Oregon and at Arizona State), the Huskies closed the year by winning four of their last five.
Washington’s defense, particularly the secondary, has continued to flourish. At question, however, is who will be calling the defense for the bowl game. Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is rumored to be a candidate for the Boise State job, though he also could end up at USC with Sarkisian. Petersen is bringing Pete Kwiatkowski with him from Boise State, so Wilcox and the Washington defense remains in limbo. -- Kevin Gemmell