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Heaps: Why a game between UW Huskies and BYU needs to happen

Despite reports of a possible game, the UW Huskies and BYU aren't expected to play. (AP)

The UW Huskies were already down one game in a shortened season after the team’s first game of 2020 against California was canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests in the Golden Bears program. Then, news broke Sunday that the annual Apple Cup rivalry game with the WSU Cougars, set for Friday, was at the very least postponed due to COVID as well.

Related: Apple Cup between UW Huskies, WSU Cougars canceled

The Cougars’ scheduled game this last Saturday against Stanford was canceled due to positive COVID tests in the WSU program, which caused the team to not have enough players under Pac-12 rules to play. That is the reason why the Apple Cup is off, as both universities announced Sunday, though there is a chance the teams will play in December to make up the game.

With the 2-0 UW Huskies already missing one game from their seven-game schedule, rather than not playing this weekend, the team has reportedly been looking to find a new opponent to play this Saturday. One team that has been discussed is the Utah Utes, a fellow Pac-12 school that had to move their game against Arizona State back a day due to positive COVID tests in the Sun Devils program. But the other team that the UW Huskies have reportedly been looking at playing is the BYU Cougars, who are undefeated at 9-0 after a resounding 66-14 win over North Alabama.

The report that UW was looking to play BYU drew national attention because it was also reported that the Cougars turned down the chance to play to play the Huskies.

There have been a few reported reasons for BYU’s choice to not play, including that the school wanted a firm commitment from UW that they would be the Huskies’ opponent as there was a chance the teams could accept a game and then UW and/or the Pac-12 could cancel it at any time during the week. The other key reason was that BYU wanted to see where it would be ranked in the College Football Playoff rankings that are released on Tuesday. Currently, BYU is eighth in the Associated Press rankings, but in the College Football Playoff ratings, you need to be in the top four to make the playoffs for a chance to play for the national championship.

Some reports have said that both sides, despite talking over the weekend, have moved on and are pursuing other options. BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe put out a statement that the university was still open to adding football games, but he didn’t mention the UW Huskies or any other specific university in the statement. UW has not made any public statements about a potential game with BYU or any other team this weekend.

Many on social media took aim at BYU reportedly not being on board with a proposed game as the team’s official Twitter account re-posted a picture of star quarterback Zach Wilson, who was wearing a headband that said “Any team, time, place.” One criticism of BYU’s playoff aspirations this season has been a lackluster schedule.

As of early Monday afternoon, most reports seem to indicate that a game between UW and BYU will not happen, but Jake Heaps, a former BYU quarterback and current co-host of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy, wants to see that matchup happen.

“Why does it need to happen? Because I think these are two really good teams and it would just be really great for college football in general,” he said Monday afternoon. “I think having a crossover matchup like this would be fantastic.”

Heaps said the potential non-conference showdown helps out both teams tremendously in a very strange college football season.

“I think UW, when you talk about their needs, they’re on the cusp of potentially only having a four-game season or a three-game season, potentially, if they can’t get a handle of all these cancellations that are happening. For UW, they need to try and put together as many games as possible,” Heaps said. “For BYU, this is more of just continuing to stake your claim, continuing to build your resume as everyone is looking at you nationally and saying, ‘I can’t believe the BYU Cougars are ranked eighth, they haven’t really played anybody.'”

Wilson is seen as a Heisman Trophy contender as he has thrown for 26 touchdowns and just two interceptions while completing over 74% of his passes. Heaps thinks Wilson and BYU’s offense going against what has been a very good UW Huskies defense would be great for both teams.

“This would be a great, great notch on your belt if you were able to win this game. But I think for both sides, this would be a great matchup and a great momentum builder for each program,” Heaps said. “I would love to see it happen.”

Later on Twitter, Heaps said that the main thing that has reportedly killed the chances of the game occurring was the ability for UW or the Pac-12 to cancel the game.

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