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Fight Hunger Bowl 2013 Preview: BYU Cougars vs. Washington Huskies

A couple of teams that did well against lesser competition (mostly) and not so well against elite competition meet on the field

Lance Iversen/USA TODAY Sports

Fight Hunger Bowl, Friday, 9:30 pm ET, ESPN

Suggested slogan: Like a Hunger Games movie, only without the killing

The teams: BYU Cougars vs. Washington Huskies

How BYU got here: Running the football. Rushing offense is literally the only category tracked by the NCAA's website in which the Cougars rank among the Top 10. Two BYU players -- quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Willaims -- have more than 1,200 yards rushing on the year and have a combined 16 running touchdowns. As a team, the Cougars average 5.3 yards a carry and 274.6 yards a game. As for the result of those games, let's just say that things were uneven early in the year for BYU. The Cougars lost to Virginia and Utah -- which went a combined 7-17 on the year, with the victory against BYU being the only win against an FBS team for the Cavaliers -- as bookends to a 19-point clubbing of Texas. The only losses from there on were 10-point defeats at Wisconsin and at Notre Dame.

How Washington got here: In a fashion that apparently greatly impressed the brass at Southern Cal. The Huskies lost head coach Steve Sarkisian after their 8-4 campaign, a development that elicited a "meh" from some Washington fans on Twitter. The Huskies were prolific on offense, piling up 514.3 yards a game. But a 4-0 start to the season turned into a 4-3 start to the season after back-to-back-to-back losses at Stanford, against Oregon and at Arizona State. Indeed, the four defeats for Washington came against the best four teams the Huskies faced (UCLA was the other), and the three-point loss to the Cardinal was the only game that UW didn't lose by double digits. While the defense looks decent on paper, the Huskies surrendered 475.3 yards a game in their four losses. (In fairness, they were solid against Stanford, and those numbers are pretty skewed by one of those losses coming against Oregon.)

College football fans care because: If nothing else, this game gives us a look at what Chris Petersen will have to work with at Washington.

SEC fans care because: Because watching Utah State will remind you of what SEC football used to look like.

Bottom line: It's just hard to believe that Washington players will have their heads in this game after the turmoil of the last month. Neither of these teams played gangbusters against elite competition, but BYU has a bit more to brag about with the win against Texas. Then again, they also have more to be ashamed of with the losses to Virginia and Utah. When all other things are equal, take the intangibles. BYU 34, Washington 31

Line: Washington by 3.5