Dear Friends of the Fight Hunger Bowl,
With three weeks to go in the regular season and conference championship games coming up the first weekend of December, things are still very much up in the air with respect to most bowl matchups. The Fight Hunger Bowl, with BYU in place, is well ahead of the curve. In fact, at this point, we are the only bowl to have secured one of its participants. On the other side of the equation, we will have a Pac-12 team, and although we won't be able to extend an invitation until selection( ), the prospects look pretty exciting.
Last week, two more Pac-12 teams achieved bowl eligibility, as USC and Washington recorded one-sided wins over Cal and Colorado. With eight conference teams now having qualified for post-season play and our bowl slotted for the sixth pick, we know we will have at least two quality teams to choose from (assuming two Pac-12 teams "move up" to BCS bowls). If only one Pac-12 team is BCS-bound, we'll have three options. There is also the possibility that a ninth Pac-12 team could get into the mix, further widening our selection pool.
Here's where things stand right now in terms of overall and conference records for the eight bowl eligible Pac-12 teams:
Stanford (8-1 overall, 6-1 in conference play)
Oregon (8-1, 5-1)
Arizona State (7-2, 5-1)
UCLA (7-2, 4-2)
USC (7-3, 4-2)
Oregon State (6-3, 4-2)
Arizona (6-3, 3-3)
Washington (6-3, 3-3)
It's still early, with so many head-to-head games remaining, but at this point the teams most likely to be in our mix include USC, Oregon State, Arizona and Washington. All would provide a great matchup with BYU and all would offer the potential for an exciting, high scoring game. BYU's attack, averaging over 30 points per game, is led by quarterback Taysom Hill, running back Jamaal Williams and wideout Cody Hoffman (the school's career receiving leader). The Cougars' opponent will feature either one of the nation's best receivers (Marqise Lee of USC), an All-America running back (Ka'Deem Carey of Arizona), a great passing combination (QB Sean Mannion and wide receiver Brandin Cooks of OSU) or a prolific quarterback and running back (Keith Price and Bishop Sankey of Washington). We really feel like we can't lose.
This Week: BYU will try to bounce back after having its five-game winning streak snapped at Wisconsin. The Cougars, now 6-3, will be heavily favored at home against Idaho State. In the Pac-12, there are a number of important games. Stanford, now in the driver's seat for the North Division crown after upsetting Oregon, must travel to the LA Coliseum to meet a resurgent USC team that has won four of five under interim coach Ed Orgeron. Meanwhile, three other contests--Arizona State at Oregon State, Washington at UCLA and Washington State at Arizona--will have major South Division and bowl implications.
Crystal Ball: Here are the latest media projections for our game: (If you're keeping score, the breakdown is 4 Washington, 3 USC, 2 Arizona, 1 Oregon State).
ESPN (Mark Schlabach): Washington vs. BYU
ESPN (Brad Edwards): Arizona vs. BYU
SI (Stewart Mandel): Arizona vs. BYU
Nat'l Football Post: USC vs. BYU
USA Today: Washington vs. BYU
CBS (Jerry Palm): USC vs. BYU
Phil Steele: Washington vs. BYU
Fox Sports/Scout.com: USC vs. BYU
Bleacher Report: Oregon State vs. BYU
SB Nation: Washington vs. BYU