If ever there were a national home for the second chance, it is Las Vegas, which will host the University of Washington football team Dec. 22 with an opportunity to make Huskies fans to begin to forget the Apple Cup.
The Maaco Las Vegas Bowl did the expected Sunday, inviting UW (7-5) and Mountain West Conference co-champion Boise State (10-2), a matchup that indavertently begins a two-game series. The Broncos and Huskies are booked to meet in the regular-season opener of the renovated Husky Stadium Aug. 31.
The Dec. 22 game will be at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN, which owns the bowl, at 36,800-seat Sam Boyd Stadium. The Huskies have never played in Las Vegas or in the state of Nevada.
The Huskies’ third consecutive bowl appearance was assured after winning their sixth game, making them eligible. The game, 21 years old, has been affiliated with the Pac-12 since 2001. The bowl’s per-team payout is $1 million, which is more than the $750,000 bowl minimum and allows the Washington traveling party to pay most of its expenses.
The university will get an allotment of 11,000 tickets, up from the 9,500 at the Alamo Bowl last year.
“We are really excited,” coach Steve Sarkisian told the gohuskies.com website. “It’s a great destination for not only our football team but for our fans and for Husky faithful to come support us. It’s a tremendous bowl game, one that’s got a great deal of history in our conference and people going to play it.”
The teams met once, at Husky Stadium in 2007, when Jake Locker led the Huskies to a 24-10 win over the 22nd-ranked Broncos, which ended what was then the nation’s longest winning streak at 14 games. This year Boise State finished No. 20 in the Associated Press poll, losing to Michigan State and MWC co-champion San Diego State.
The game will be the Broncos’ third consecutive appearance in the Vegas game, beating Utah 26-3 two years ago and Arizona State 56-24 last year.
“Boise State is a tremendous opponent, one that’s been good for many, many years,” Sarkisian said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to prepare for them and play against them.”
The Huskies, who will be headquartered at the Mandalay Bay Resort, were one of four teams in the Pac-12 with a 7-5 record, the last loss a 31-28 overtime stunner at Washington State in the Apple Cup that dropped the Huskies a peg or two in the selection process.
The Vegas bowl had the fifth pick. Its selection committee was reportedly divided between UW and Arizona.
The rest of the Pac-12 bowl roll:
BCS Rose Bowl (Pasadena), Jan. 1: Stanford (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (8-5)
BCS Fiesta (Phoenix), Jan. 3: Oregon (11-1) vs. Kansas State (11-1)
Holiday (San Diego), Dec. 27: UCLA (9-3) vs. Baylor (7-5)
Alamo (San Antonio), Dec. 29: Oregon State (9-3) vs. Texas (8-4)
Sun Bowl (El Paso), Dec. 31: USC (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (6-7)
Kraft Fight Hunger (San Francisco), Dec. 29: Arizona State (7-5) vs. Navy (7-4)
New Mexico (Albuquerque), Dec. 15: Arizona (7-5) vs. Nevada (7-5)