It’s a preview of next year’s season opener (in Seattle) for Washington and Boise State when they clash in the Dec. 22 Las Vegas Bowl. With all due respect to the bowl, certainly both teams had higher aspirations.
The No. 19 Broncos (10-2) opened the post-Kellen Moore era by losing at Michigan State, a loss that seemed perfectly understandable back then but not quite as good now with the Spartans’ 2012 issues. Boise State then won its next seven games before losing to San Diego State 21-19, which ended Boise State’s realistic BCS bowl hopes. However, the Broncos closed the year on a three-game winning streak. They beat Nevada 27-21 in their finale to clinch a share of the Mountain West title – BSU is scheduled to head to the Big East next year. This is the third straight year that Boise State is playing in this game – it State routed Utah in 2010 and Arizona State last season. It’s the 11th straight bowl game for the Broncos.
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Washington (7-5) played one of the nation’s toughest schedules this season, with five games against Top-11 teams. The Huskies won two of them, beating Pac-12 champ Stanford and Oregon State. But UW was routed at LSU and at Oregon and lost by 10 to Southern Cal. It looked like the team was hitting its stride at the end with four wins in a row, but the Huskies suffered a head-scratching season-ending 31-28 overtime loss to a very bad Washington State team, blowing a 28-10 fourth-quarter lead in the Apple Cup. This is Washington’s first-ever Las Vegas Bowl appearance.
Washington vs. Boise State Betting Storylines
Both starting quarterbacks have had their struggles this season. Joe Southwick was tasked with filling the huge shoes of Moore. Southwick completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 2,466 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven picks. He did close with seven TDs and no picks in his final three games. The Broncos ranked 80th in the nation in passing. Sixth-year running back D.J. Harper rushed for 1,065 yards and 15 scores. He is the 12th player in school history to record a 1,000-yard season and it is the fourth straight year Boise State has had a 1,000-yard rusher. The Broncos have lost just 15 turnovers all season and rank fourth in the nation in turnover margin.
Keith Price is one of the better quarterbacks in Washington history but has been up-and-down in his junior season after throwing 33 TDs last year. He completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,486 yards and 18 touchdown passes against 11 interceptions. He threw at least one pick in every loss and was intercepted on the first play of overtime against Wazzu. Price enters the bowl with 53 career touchdown passes, tied with predecessor Jake Locker and with Brock Huard (1996-98) for second all-time at UW. He needs three touchdown passes to break Cody Pickett's career record at Washington set from 1999-2003.
Price has one of the nation’s top tight ends in Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He had 63 catches with a team-leading 791 yards receiving and co-leading six touchdowns this season. Sophomore running back Bishop Sankey capably replaced Chris Polk this season, with Sankey rushing for 1,234 yards and 15 scores. Price and Co. face a Boise State defense that ranked sixth nationally in allowing 14.9 points per game, No. 7 in pass efficiency defense and No. 9 in total.
Boise State and Washington have met once, a 24-10 Huskies win in 2007 in Seattle. They will play there again on Aug. 31, 2013, in the newly-renovated Husky Stadium. The two schools do have one common opponent for this year: San Diego State. Washington beat the Aztecs 21-12 in their season opener. The Huskies are trying for their first eight-win season since 2001. Their first-year defensive coordinator, Justin Wilcox, held the same job at Boise State from 2006-09. Boise State coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski was the defensive line coach under Wilcox and has been the Broncos' coordinator since he left.
Washington vs. Boise State Las Vegas Bowl Betting Odds and Trends
At BookMaker, Boise State is a five-point favorite with the total at 46 (spread opened at 7.5). The Huskies were 7-5 ATS this season (2-4 away from home) and 4-7 “over/under”. Boise State was 6-6 ATS (4-2 away from home) and 5-7 over/under.
UW is 4-1 in its past five after a loss as well as after an ATS loss. The Huskies are 1-5-2 in their past eight games vs. Mountain West teams. Boise State has covered four straight bowl games and six straight at neutral sites. Broncos are 1-6 ATS vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 4-1 in Washington’s past five vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-0 in Boise State’s past five vs. teams with a winning record.
2012 Las Vegas Bowl Picks: Washington vs. Boise State Predictions
I think it’s fair to say that Boise State has the defensive edge, especially against the pass. Opposing quarterbacks have two touchdown passes with 16 interceptions. But the Huskies have clearly superior talent on offense even though Washington scored more than 21 points just four times all season. The Huskies should be very dangerous next year, but I honestly have no clue which team shows up here: the one that gagged against the Cougars and was destroyed by Arizona or the one that outphysicaled a very physical Stanford team. I think it’s the good Huskies, so they are the pick. Love the under.
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