Dear Friends of the Fight Hunger Bowl,
Last weekend was a good one for the Fight Hunger Bowl. The Pac-12 continued to shine and BYU took a giant step toward bowl eligibility with a thrilling, come-from-behind win over previously unbeaten Houston. As the 47-46 score would indicate, the game was a track meet, generating over 1100 yards in total offense. BYU ran an astounding 115 offensive plays and gained 681 yards. Sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill, who seems to get better every week, generated 545 total yards--417 passing and 128 rushing. Linebacker Alani Fua had a key interception for the second week in a row, this one sealing the victory with a minute left.
The win improved BYU's record to 5-2, so the Cougars need just one more win to qualify for post-season play and earn a trip to San Francisco. The remaining schedule includes two games in which BYU should be favored (Idaho State and Nevada) and two in which they are likely to be underdogs (at Wisconsin and at Notre Dame), along with this week's high-profile matchup with Boise State. I will be in Provo night to attend the Boise State game and look forward to hooking up with our old friend, BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe, the former 49ers' standout who also coached at Stanford and Cal before returning to his alma mater as a top administrator.
Pac-12: Last Saturday we took in the feature game in Palo Alto between then No. 9 UCLA and No. 13 Stanford. The game was a little lower scoring than expected, but every bit as physical as advertised. The Cardinal held UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley in check and prevailed 24-10. Stanford wideout Kodi Whitfield made the catch of the year, a brilliant one-handed grab at the goal line while being blanketed by two defenders. In other action, Oregon outscored WSU 62-38, Arizona State flexed its muscles in a one-sided win over Washington, Arizona surprised Utah in Tucson, and Oregon State won its sixth straight at Berkeley.
The conference already has three bowl-eligible teams--AP No. 2 ranked Oregon (7-0), No. 8 Stanford (6-1) and unranked Oregon State (6-1). Arizona State (5-2) and UCLA (5-1) are one win away, while five conference teams have four wins and need two more to qualify--Arizona (4-2), USC (4-3), Utah (4-3), Washington (4-3) and Washington State (4-4). It's conceivable that eight or nine Pac-12 teams may achieve bowl eligibility this year. With the sixth pick, we feel we should have a very attractive choice between two or three quality teams.
This Week: No. 12 UCLA has another difficult assignment--a matchup with unbeaten Oregon in Eugene. Stanford must travel to always-tough Corvallis to take on the nation's top passing combination, Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion and wide receiver Brandin Cooks. USC, coming off a 14-10 loss to Notre Dame, hosts a Utah team also seeking to bounce back from a disappointing setback in Arizona. Washington, badly needing to get back on the winning track after three straight losses to ranked teams, entertains California.
Crystal Ball: Eight weeks into the season, things are starting to sort themselves out a little in terms of likely bowl scenarios. In our game, the experts foresee a matchup of BYU vs. one of three attractive Pac-12 opponents. We are thinking along the same lines.
CBS Sports: BYU vs. Oregon State
ESPN (Schlabach): BYU vs. Washington
ESPN (Edwards): BYU vs. USC
USA Today: BYU vs. USC
Sporting News: BYU vs. USC
Phil Steele: BYU vs. Washington
National Football Post: BYU vs. Oregon State
Scout.com: BYU vs. Washington
SB nation: BYU vs. USC