SEATTLE – Chris Petersen got a firsthand look at BYU’s Tanner Mangum many years ago when the quarterback was a high school star in Idaho and Petersen was still in charge at Boise State.
When Petersen started looking at film in preparation for Saturday’s game between No. 11 Washington and No. 20 BYU, his memories of Mangum came flooding back, along with the realization of just how long it’s been since Petersen was trying to get Mangum to Boise State.
“I cannot believe he’s still playing college football,” Petersen said. “I’m like, ‘Huh?’ But he was an awesome kid back in high school even. Just really liked him.”
Mangum and the Cougars (3-1) have been one of the big surprises during the first month of the regular season. Taking down the Huskies (3-1) on the road – and picking up a second road win over a team ranked in the top 12 – would certainly vault BYU into an entirely different conversation.
As it stands, the Cougars’ ranking this week is their highest since 2015 when they reached No. 19 after starting 2-0.
“It’s pretty fun, but it’s not what we define ourselves as,” BYU wide receiver Dylan Collie said. “We have been defining ourselves as a winning culture and a winning team since the new staff got here in January. I was just lucky to be a part of it when I came in June and we’ve just built on it ever since. That won’t stop. It’s a number in the big scheme of things.”
While BYU’s ranking comes as a surprise, it could end up being a benefit for Washington. The Huskies remain the Pac-12 favorite after wins over Utah and Arizona State to open conference play, and knocking off a ranked Cougars team could help bolster Washington’s resume at the end of the season if it’s in contention again for a College Football Playoff berth.
Washington’s defense is doing just fine, but the Huskies would like to see more out of the offense. The Huskies averaged more than 6 yards per play and Jake Browning threw three touchdowns against Arizona State, but a victory that had the feel of a blowout was a one-score game in the fourth quarter.
Here are things to watch as the Cougars and Huskies meet for the first time since 2008 in Seattle:
BLAME CANADA: The Cougars expect to have running back Squally Canada closer to being fully healthy after he got just 10 carries last week against McNeese State while dealing with a sore ankle. Canada’s been tough to stop early in the season, running for three touchdowns in a win at Arizona then rushing for 118 yards and two scores in a win over Wisconsin.
If Canada is slowed, Lopini Katoa has proven to be a capable backup, averaging 5.6 yards per carry and scoring twice last week.
Arizona State provided a blueprint for staying relatively close to the Huskies last week by relying heavily on the run, creating manageable third-down situations and extending drives. Playing that way is part of BYU’s philosophy and should give the Cougars a chance to hang around.
NO FLY ZONE: Washington allowed a passing touchdown to Auburn on the first possession of the season. The Huskies have not allowed a passing TD since.
Washington’s secondary was supposed to be good, but last week Arizona State didn’t even bother trying to challenge the Huskies with downfield throws. Washington has held three straight opponents to under 140 yards passing. The only downside has been a lack of interceptions. The Huskies have just one.
SMACK THE PAC: BYU is getting a big taste of the Pac-12 this season. The Cougars already split against Arizona and California and will close the season against rival Utah in Salt Lake City. The four games against Pac-12 opponents are the most BYU has played in one season. The Cougars haven’t beaten two Pac-12 teams in the same season since 2008 when they beat Washington and UCLA.
RECORD WATCH: Browning needs 151 yards passing to move past Cody Pickett and become Washington’s all-time leader in career yards passing. Browning has 10,070 yards passing and is currently 17th on the Pac-12 all-time list. Browning needs another 726 yards passing to move into the top 10 on the all-time Pac-12 list.
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