The city of double-downs, over/unders and $.99 shrimp cocktail opens its glittering doors to Boise State and Washington for the 21st annual MAACO Las Vegas Bowl.
Yes, against the better judgement of most in academia, two large public universities are flying dozens of young men just above voting age to Las Vegas in the hopes they'll represent their institutions with class and integrity. Bowl season really is a magical
time of year.
Accepting this particular bowl invite can be as risky as correcting a coworker's spelling of "Valtrex." But Boise State has won the last two Las Vegas Bowls by a combined 82-27, making this an easy choice for the darlings of America's spud country.
Their esteemed opponents haven't seen much bowl success in recent years, as Washington boasts just one bowl victory since Marques Tuiasosopo got the best of Drew Brees in the 2001 Rose Bowl. They'll need to find the hot hand Saturday if they want to pull off a Silver State upset.
So with our thanks to the hardworking men and women of America's Bodyshop, let's push our luck and break down the action in Sin City.
-Distance Traveled to Sam Boyd Stadium:
636 for Boise State vs. 1,139 for Washington
Boise State alum Tera Patrick knows a little something about seduction, but so do proud Huskies Patrick Duffy, Kenny G and Al Borland
-You'll Be Surprised To Know:
The 1995 Las Vegas Bowl was the first Division 1-A game to be decided in overtime.
-Brent Musberger says:
"This one’s for all the auto paint resurfacings!”
Known before 1992 as the California Raisin Bowl
, this bowl's previous moniker seems more appropriate for Boise State this season, as they watched their BCS bowl hopes shrivel under the lights after their season-opening prime time loss at Michigan State.
But beloved coach Chris Petersen was masterful this season, guiding his team to a 10-2 record despite the introduction of new starting quarterback Joe Southwick, whose underwhelming play made exactly zero people forget about former B.M.O.C.
The heart and soul of the Broncos success was a stingy, disciplined defense, which gave up more than 21 points just once all year (a 32-29 win over New Mexico), while new starting running back D.J. Harper stepped out from the shadow of current Buccaneer Doug Martin to finish with over 1,000 yards and 15 TDs on the ground.
With his unspectacular quarterback unlikely to take this game over, Coach Pete will need Harper to channel former Las Vegas Bowl MVPs Steven Jackson and Marshawn Lynch if he hopes to put enough points up to win this one.
In Seattle, the Huskies began their season sandwiching impressive home wins over San Diego State and Stanford around a tough loss at LSU, before a three game swoon (featuring six Keith Price interceptions) versus Oregon, USC and Arizona left them at 3-4.
Though their strong 4-1 finish has Steve Sarkisian's squad thinking upset against Boise, who faced few real challengers this season. But winning bowl games, and Las Vegas Bowls in particular, has been a strong suit for Chris Petersen's program, and this defense is the real deal.
Boise State opened as a touchdown favorite, but that has settled down below that figure. I see Boise winning, but not by more than a field goal in a game that should see less than 40 points hit the scoreboard.