A BYU-Washington football game feels like a no-brainer, but it’s not nearly that simple

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, file pool photo, BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (1) carries the ball in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Western Kentucky in Provo, Utah. An unusual college football season has produced some unexpected unbeaten teams dotting the AP Top 25 with about a month left. Led by No. 7 Cincinnati and No. 8 BYU, five teams from outside the Power Five conferences have yet to lose. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool, File)

The University of Washington and BYU football programs may flirt a little this week, but it remains to be seen if they actually go out on a date this weekend.

The Cougars blew out North Alabama to move to 9-0 overall on Saturday, then held steady Sunday at No. 8 in the Associated Press Top 25 with the initial College Football Playoff rankings set to be released on Tuesday.

If the Cougars beat San Diego State on Dec. 12 in Provo to get to 10-0, and play no one else, there is an argument to be made they wind up in a New Year’s Six bowl, likely the Cotton or Fiesta Bowl.

The Huskies, 2-0 and in contention in the Pac-12 North, had their annual rivalry game with Washington State canceled on Sunday. The WSU Cougars will be unable to meet the Pac-12′s 53-player threshold necessary to play a game due to COVID-19 positives and the accompanying contact-tracing protocols.

Washington needs a game this weekend, BYU has an opening, but it’s not going to be that simple.

The Pac-12 on Thursday green-lit nonconference football games in an instance where a cancellation takes place, such as Washington-Washington State, and one team is still able to play. The league, though, included major sticking points.

The nonconference team would need to adhere to Pac-12 testing protocols, which, at a minimum, includes daily-antigen testing. BYU, per a Deseret News report last week, is testing three times per week. Furthermore, the Pac-12 team would need to be the host, which should not be a deal-breaker, but here’s the major caveat in the case of BYU-Washington.

If a Pac-12 opponent were to become available by the end of the day Thursday in any given week, the conference game would take priority over the nonconference game.

The University of Utah is scheduled to play at Arizona State this weekend. The Sun Devils haven’t played since Nov. 7 while dealing with a program-wide COVID outbreak, but the Pac-12 on Sunday moved Utah-ASU from Saturday to Sunday, an indication that the Sun Devils may be able to get themselves together in time to play the game. Still, a real possibility exists that the game does not get played, and if it is called off by Thursday, Washington would have to play Utah this weekend at a to-be-determined site, not BYU, which would take place in Seattle.

To this end, it was reported Sunday evening that Washington reached out to BYU on Saturday, but the Cougars balked for the time being. Part of the reasoning is because it wants to lock in a game contract now, and not risk being dropped late in the week if the Huskies have to pivot and play the Utes.

Additionally, reasoned thinking suggests that BYU wants to hold firm until it sees where it falls in the CFP rankings on Tuesday. If the Cougars go to bed Tuesday in line for a New Year’s Six spot with only San Diego State standing in their way, playing Washington, or any other Pac-12 team for that matter, makes even less sense.