Washington and Brigham Young each enter Friday’s Fight Hunger Bowl with the same 8-4 record, and they’ve taken a similar route to get to that point.
The Huskies switched to a fast-paced offensive scheme before the season, resulting in school records for points and total yards, plus Bishop Sankey’s school-record 1,775 yards rushing.
BYU also remade its offense in the offseason, hiring four new offensive coaches, among them former BYU coordinator Robert Anae after his two years at Arizona. Anae wanted to push the pace, too, and the Cougars did just that this season.
BYU, with 1,014, was one of just seven FBS teams to run 1,000 plays during the regular season. The result was a 24 percent increase in offensive production for the Cougars, who are averaging 495.4 yards per game. They also produced the first tandem of 1,000-yard rushers in school history, with sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill (215 carries, 1,211 yards) and running back Jamaal Williams (205 carries, 1,202 yards) putting up almost identical numbers.
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UW ended the regular season with averages of 38.5 points and 514.3 yards, both tops in program history.
“If you look at what we’ve both done statistically, there’s a lot of good things there. We’re similar,” UW interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo said. “They play very hard. Obviously, they’re older guys, so they have a little bit more life experience. But our kids are tough, they love to play and they fight too. So I expect it to be a very competitive game.”
Hill, from Pocatello, Idaho, ran for 259 yards and three touchdowns in BYU’s 40-21 victory over Texas on Sept. 7. He ranks third in the nation with 55 rushes of 10 yards or more this season, with nine rushing touchdowns total. He has also thrown for 2,645 yards — with 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions — to become the first BYU player to rush for 1,000 yards and throw for 2,000 in the same season.
Williams rushed for a career-high 219 yards in BYU’s 28-23 victory over Nevada in the regular-season finale on Nov. 30.
“I’m a little surprised that I rushed for as many yards as I did. Not surprised with the way Jamaal rushed,” Hill told the Deseret News. “Looking back at it, with the offensive scheme, and the numbers that we put up, it makes sense to have it spread out the way that it was. It’s been a really good season. I’m happy with the things that we as an offensive unit have accomplished. We look to build off that in this bowl game.”
The Huskies and Cougars both arrived in San Francisco on Sunday. The official Fight Hunger Bowl news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, with Tuiasosopo, quarterback Keith Price, running back Bishop Sankey and defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha scheduled to speak for UW.
The game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday at AT&T Park, home of MLB’s San Francisco Giants.
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @a_jude.