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BYU vs. Washington Preview, Prediction, Pick Against the Spread

Posted by in College Football Picks on August 15th, 2010 | Comment »

Jermaine Kearse

WR #15 Jermaine Kearse is the player to watch in this one.


Washington has been a notoriously awful football team for the better part of the last decade, but has shown signs of turning their program around last year. Ever since their 2001 Rose Bowl appearance, they’ve struggled big time. Here are their records since 2001 in chronological order: 7-6, 6-6, 1-10, 2-9, 5-7, 4-9, 0-12, 5-7. The bottom line is that this team hasn’t produced a winning season since 2002, but they were able to improve on their 0-12 2008 season by going 5-7 this past year. Everyone tried to pound the Huskies last year and more often than not, they got burned as the Huskies had a 7-5 record ATS. They covered against USC, Notre Dame, Arizona, UCLA, and Cal. Even more impressive was the fact that they closed the season by defeating Cal 42-10 after shutting out Washington State 30-0, as well as upsetting USC 16-13. However, Washington struggled on the road going 0-5 and getting crushed by the likes of Oregon State and Stanford, who they were unable to cover against.

BYU was tremendous this past season, closing the year with an 11-2 record and going 8-5 ATS and finishing 14th in the BCS standings ahead of teams such as Pitt, Oregon State, Stanford, Utah, and West Virginia. That kind of performance last year begs the question, why is this team only giving up 3 points at home? Something has to be up. Let’s see what we can dig up.

First, with a spread like this, you know that some key players from last year won’t be back this season. BYU’s stud QB Max Hall has graduated and moved onto the pros (3560 yards, 33 TDs last season; undrafted rookie by the Arizona Cardinals). BYU now had to choose between junior QB Riley Nelson or freshman QB Jake Heaps, whose been drawing praises and may end up with the starting job. Heaps was the #1 2010 High School QB recruit according to However, Coach Bronco Mendenhall has not made a decision on who his starter will be. In any event, it looks like BYU should have a dependable quarterback even after losing Max Hall.

Unfortunately, BYU will be without their top 2 offensive playmakers: RB Harvey Unga (1087 yards, 12 TDs last season; drafted by the Bears in round 7) and WR Dennis Pitta (829 yards, 8 TDs last season; drafted by the Ravens in round 4), but BYU will have 3 of their top 5 receivers returning for another season. On defense, BYU was strong against the run last year and that shouldn’t change. BYU allowed just over 110 yards per game last season, an extremely impressive stat. BYU’s secondary should also be amongst the best in the MWC with 3 returning starters from last year, including SS Andrew Rich, who is considered to be a potential first rounder in the 2011 NFL Draft. BYU will need Rich to be all over UW WR Jermaine Kearse if they want a shot at winning this game.

Washington will only improve on their 5-7 record last season. Washington was a young team last year and they’re returning a lot of key players. Washington QB Jake Locker had a solid season (2800 yards, 21 TDs last season) and will only improve on that as his 5 top wideouts will be back. Washington has a lot explosive playmakers at the skill positions. Keep your eye on WR Jermaine Kearse (50 receptions, 866 yards, 17.3 YPR, 8 TDs last season), WR Devin Auguilar (42 receptions, 593 yards, 14.1 YPR, 5 TDs last saeson), and RB Chris Polk (1132 yards, 4 TDs last season). The Huskies put up an impressive 26 PPG last season, which should only be improved on this year.

Despite finishing 14th in the BCS standings last year, BYU is coming into this season ranked 45th in Sporting News’s preseason rankings, while Washington cracked the top 25, ranked 25th in the nation. Over at Mountain West Connection, the fans are split on who will come out on top in this one. BYU was given the slight nod with 52% of the votes.

What I thought was going to be solid pick with BYU at home doesn’t look to be anything close to the lock with an improving Washington football team returning a lot of key playmakers. BYU QB Jake Heaps is the real deal, but he’ll likely need a few games under his belt before he really starts to shine. I’m going to give the nod to Washington +3 since the improving Jake Locker has a ton of skilled playmakers to work with unlike BYU, who lost their top 3 offensive stars. The tough BYU defense will make it difficult for UW to score though. The question will become whether Washington’s D can step up in this one. I think they will considering that BYU’s offense this season shouldn’t be anything to be fearful of with the losses that their team is faced with. Washington has a lot of road woes though going 0-5  (2-3 ATS) on the road last season, which causes me to be hesitant on taking them this game. I also wanted to point out that the last time Washington met BYU on the road, it was during UW’s awful 2008 season and Washington lost by 1 point, 28-27.

Prediction: Washington 23 – BYU 20

Pick Against the Spread: Washington +3 (Confidence: 2/5)

Notes: This game will be passed on by me, but I think Washington’s playmakers can top BYU on the road here despite UW’s road struggles. Although BYU’s D will be tough, their offense is rebuilding and that will be a problem for them.

Who do you think will cover Washington (+3) @ BYU?

  • BYU (52%, 105 Votes)
  • Washington (48%, 98 Votes)

Total Voters: 203

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Washington Huskies 2009 Highlights

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