Washington now will search for an opponent to play this weekend. Whether that replacement will be unbeaten BYU remains the subject of some debate.
The No. 8 Cougars are 9-0 and have only one more game on their schedule: Dec. 12 vs. San Diego State, which is 3-2. They could use more games against power-conference teams to burnish a College Football Playoff résumé that isn’t exactly strong: BYU’s nine opponents are a combined 30-38, and its best win was a 51-17 victory over 4-1 Boise State on Nov. 6. (The Broncos are 35th in Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings, which measure overall efficiency; BYU is eighth.)
According to multiple reports, Washington reached out to BYU about a possible game this weekend. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman reports that the Cougars turned down the offer to gauge their position in the season’s inaugural playoff rankings, which will be released Tuesday. Yahoo’s Pete Thamel reports that BYU would play the game if a contract can be locked in immediately.
The Pac-12′s pandemic protocol could be a sticking point, because if another conference team can step in by Thursday to play Washington, the Huskies must face that team. According to ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura, BYU was concerned that such a scenario would unfold this week after it agreed to play Washington, especially considering that Utah could be a possible opponent for the Huskies. The Utes are scheduled to face Arizona State on Sunday, but the Sun Devils continue to have issues with the pandemic and have had two games canceled already. If the Utah-Arizona State game is canceled by the end of the day Thursday, the Utes are likely to play Washington.
“We remain open to exploring options to add football games, and have been throughout the season,” BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe said in a statement. “In that exploration process there are a variety of factors that need to be considered, including location, prep time for the game, the chances of the game being played, the testing protocols that are in place and what the game would do for our résumé. At this point of the season, having played nine games and being nationally ranked, we are involved in discussions for possible matchups with other teams, on common open dates, for the benefit of both teams.”
According to the Seattle Times, Army and San Diego State also have open dates this weekend and could be considered for Washington if a conference opponent can’t be found.
Replacement nonconference opponents for Pac-12 teams also must adhere to the conference’s coronavirus testing and safety protocols. Any replacement game must be held at the Pac-12 team’s stadium and televised by one of the conference’s broadcast partners.
After a blowout win against North Alabama on Saturday, BYU Coach Kalani Sitake said his team will take on any opponent that asks for a game.
“There is a lot of talk about our schedule,” he said. “I just want to remind everyone that we were the only ones committed to playing football in the West, in August. So if you are going to assume anything, you should probably assume that we want to get games. And Tom is not a hard guy to get a hold of.”
Washington and BYU have met the past two seasons, with the Huskies winning both games by a combined score of 80-26.