Washington (7-5) vs. Boise State (10-2)|
Saturday, December 22, 3:30 p.m. (et)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Unable to rattle the BCS this year, the Boise State Broncos find
themselves in the Las Vegas Bowl for the third straight year, facing yet
another representative from the Pac-12 Conference in the Washington Huskies
this Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.
"We are excited to return to the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas and face the University
of Washington," Bronco head coach Chris Petersen stated. "Coach (Steve)
Sarkisian and his staff do an excellent job in preparing their team and we
look forward to the challenge of playing a Pac-12 opponent for the second
Coach Petersen, the winningest active coach at the Football Bowl Subdivision
level with a record of 83-8 (.912), has the Broncos playing in the postseason
for the 11th straight year. One of only 10 teams in the nation to have a
streak that stretches into double digits, Boise State enters the contest with
a record of 10-2 overall and a mark of 7-1 in Mountain West Conference play,
which was enough to give the program a share of the league's regular season
The only two defeats for the Broncos this season came in the opener against
Michigan State on the road, 17-13, and a rare home loss to San Diego State,
21-19, in early November which prevented the team from truly shaking up the
BCS once again.
As for the Huskies, a team which defeated the aforementioned SDSU Aztecs in
the season opener at home, 21-12, they barely made the cut in terms of being
bowl eligible. After losing three straight to the likes of Oregon, USC and
Arizona, the team managed to post four consecutive league victories before
bowing to Washington State on the road, 31-28, in overtime in late November.
Washington finished fourth in the Pac-12 North with a mark of 5-4 in league
play and 7-5 overall.
The Huskies have a deep history when it comes to bowl games, reaching all the
way back to the 1924 Rose Bowl which ended in a 14-14 tie versus Navy. The
squad took part in one of the most exciting postseason outings in recent
memory just last year when they battled Baylor and Robert Griffin III in a
67-56 loss in the Alamo Bowl.
Washington, which has a record of 16-15-1 in bowl games, is competing in the
postseason for the third straight year after a lengthy break following a 34-24
setback versus Purdue in the 2002 Sun Bowl.
"I think that we've found a formula that has been pretty successful, we've
performed well in previous bowls," Sarkisian said of his team's trip to Sin
City. "When it's football time, it's football time and we'll be locked in and
focused for that. We'll enjoy ourselves in the parameters that are set for us.
At the end of the day like I said earlier, we are going there to win the game
and that is the purpose of this trip."
Boise State has a record of 8-4 in the postseason, dating back to the 1999
Humanitarian Bowl and a 34-31 victory over Louisville. The Broncos have a pair
of impressive Fiesta Bowl wins to their credit, one against TCU (17-10) in
2010 and then the monumental 43-42 overtime affair versus Oklahoma that
finally gave the program some much-deserved exposure on a national scale.
Last year, the Broncos crushed Arizona State in this same event by a score of
56-24, and a year earlier turned the trick against Utah in a lopsided 26-3
With respect to the all-time series between these two programs, Washington won
the only previous encounter by a score of 24-10 in Seattle back in 2007.
Following that defeat the Broncos ripped off nine straight victories en route
to a 10-3 campaign. The Huskies, on the other hand, won only two more games
the rest of the season and posted a dismal 4-9 mark.
Ironically, these two teams are also set to clash in the 2013 season opener at
Husky Stadium as well, with Washington returning the favor in September of
Outside of a pass defense that ranks second in the Pac-12 and 16th in the
nation with just 188.9 ypg allowed, most of the stats for the Huskies are
rather marginal this year. The team has made huge strides on defense from 2011
to 2012, particularly against the pass, after allowing a whopping 284.6 ypg
(116th) just a year earlier, but still there's work to be done on both sides
of the ball.
For this game, Shaq Thompson and Marcus Peters will again be spotlighted on
the defensive side for the Huskies, after both registered three interceptions
and a blocked kick this season. Andrew Hudson and Josh Shirley will be asked
to apply pressure at the line of scrimmage after sharing the team lead with
6.5 sacks through 12 games, the former also tied for the team lead with 8.5
tackles for loss with Thompson.
Offensively, running back Bishop Sankey finished fifth in the league with
102.8 ypg on the ground but, more importantly, made it a habit of making his
way into the end zone with 15 rushing touchdowns, which means the rest of the
team accounted for a total of just two rushing scores.
Keith Price, an owner of one of those other rushing TDs, converted close to 62
percent of his pass attempts for 207.0 ypg and a total of 18 touchdowns
through the air, six each going to Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
The offense for the Broncos underwent a major transition this season as they
went from being directed by the most successful starting quarterback in the
history of college football (Kellen Moore), to handing the ball to Joe
Southwick who experienced more than his share of growing pains. There were a
number of instances where Southwick appeared overwhelmed, unsure of himself,
as he attempted to keep the BSU program rolling over the competition.
Southwick eventually settled in to complete 66.7 percent of his pass attempts
which was good enough for fifth on the school's all-time single-season list.
The signal-caller threw for close to 2,500 yards and 17 touchdowns, but he
also tossed seven interceptions. The fact that the offensive line allowed just
nine total sacks was also key for the Broncos to excel again this season.
Like Moore, Southwick tried to spread the wealth across a host of receivers,
but it was clear that his favorite target had become Matt Miller who reeled in
60 passes, almost twice as many as his closest teammate, resulting in 679
yards and five touchdowns. Making the most of his 25 catches was Chris Potter
who landed in the end zone four times.
Taking charge of the running game was D.J. Harper who averaged five yards per
attempt, en route to 1,065 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Pinning their hopes on their defense, the Broncos rose to the occasion as they
finished ninth in the nation in yards allowed (304.7 ypg) and sixth in points
(14.9 ppg). Turnover margin was another area in which the program was one of
the best in football, averaging a plus-1.50 turnovers per game thanks to
Darian Thompson and Jamar Taylor who both logged three interceptions, the
latter also forcing three fumbles. Demarcus Lawrence, who finished with just
48 total tackles over 11 appearances, led the program with 13.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks
and four forced fumbles, not to mention coming up with their only blocked kick
of the campaign as well.
As long as the Broncos can get enough of a push at the line of scrimmage and
force Washington to try and move the ball through the air, Boise State should
be in good shape for yet another win in the postseason.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Boise State 28, Washington 21
12/19 12:04:18 ET