FROM SAN FRANCISCO — As usual, we pass along our capsulated look at tonight’s game, which the Huskies won 31-16.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME — For a while, I thought this was going to go to BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, who proved pretty difficult to stop on the ground, rushing for 133 yards on 31 carries, a figure that included some yardage lost on five UW sacks. But Bishop Sankey was given the bowl game’s official offensive player of the game award, and that’s probably the right call. His numbers were good but not gaudy — 21 carries for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns — though he sat out the fourth quarter with what he said afterward was a hand injury. His touchdown runs — especially his second — were both impressive.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME — This is a pretty easy choice. UW defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha was a monster against BYU’s offensive line, getting to Hill for three sacks — he finishes the season with 13 — and pressuring him on a number of other occasions. Tre Watson also deserves mention, as the senior defensive back stepped in for the suspended Will Shamburger and made six tackles in addition to six pass breakups.
PLAY OF THE GAME — Maybe not just one play, but a series of plays — three of them — at a critical point in the game. BYU had just taken the ball back after Keith Price’s only interception of the game, and had a first down at UW’s 26-yard line. But three plays netted zero yards, and the Cougars missed a field goal that would have pulled them within nine points with a little more than four minutes remaining in the game. Holding BYU to three points would have been a victory in itself. But keeping them off the scoreboard completely, and maintaining a 12-point lead — was a huge boost for UW. Of course, John Ross’ 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown deserves mention, too.
STAT OF THE GAME — 61.8. The Huskies averaged 61.8 yards per kickoff return, buoyed by Ross’ 100-yarder, in addition to the 47-yard return by Jesse Callier that set the Huskies up with an easy, four-play touchdown drive.
QUOTABLE — “I think it means a lot to the program. It means a lot to the players. It’s a certain expectation that we set tonight.” — UW quarterback Keith Price, who played his last game as a Husky
WHAT IT MEANS — It probably means more for interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo and UW’s seniors than anybody else. Tuiasosopo might not be returning to UW next season — expect an announcement one way or the other in the coming week — but if this was his last game as a UW coach, it was a memorable one to go out on. There were a lot of questions surrounding this team the past few weeks. Could Tuiasosopo get them ready to play after Steve Sarkisian’s abrupt departure? Would the Huskies be properly motivated to play? Would they look like the same team? For the most part, they did, winning with relative ease despite Price and Sankey sitting out the fourth quarter. Getting to nine wins is a big achievement for this program, too, and it’s something they talked about again and again and again since the Apple Cup gave them win No. 8. With Chris Petersen taking over now, it seems the expectations next season will be to at least match this year’s record, if not better it. And that’s a standard Tuiasosopo, Price and the rest of the Huskies’ contributing seniors can say they helped establish.
NEXT UP — At Hawaii to begin next season. I hear the weather is OK there.
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple