The main question for Washington is whether quarterback Keith Price will be able to throw against Boise State, which has allowed just three touchdown passes all season.
GAME: Washington (7-5 overall, 5-3 Pac-12) vs. Boise State (10-2-0 overall, 7-1 Mountain West). WHEN: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas. MEETING: 2nd (Washington leads 1-0). COACHES: Steve Sarkisian, Washington; Chris Petersen, Boise State. RANKINGS: Boise State 19 BCS, 20 AP, 15 USA Today; UW unranked. LINE: Boise by 5½. TV: ESPN. RADIO: KJR-950 AM, 102.9 FM.
Washington and Boise State have faced each other once (2007), but the teams are becoming a lot more familiar with each other. They not only meet Saturday afternoon in the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas, they will open the 2013 season against each other in the first game scheduled at the renovated Husky Stadium.
“I think it can become one of those classic rivalries that get set up,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. “Everybody loves a good rematch, you know? Somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose this first one. Then we are going to come back nine months later to see who can win the second one.”
Washington played 32 bowls from Florida to Hawaii, but it has never had a postseason stop in Las Vegas. Boise State, though, is quite familiar with the glitter of the Strip, having won the last two MAACO bowls by a combined 55 points over Pac-12 foes Utah (26-3) and Arizona State (56-24).
The Boise State teams that whacked the Utes and Sun Devils averaged 44.7 points per game. The current Boise State club is not nearly as potent offensively, averaging just 30.4 points. The Broncos, who have been held under 21 points in four games, mainly rely on one of the nation’s best defenses.
Boise State has held opponents to just 14.9 points and 304.7 yards per game, which ranks in the top 10 in the FBS. The best part of the defense, led by first-team All-Mountain West selections Demarcus Lawrence (9.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss), J.C. Percy (101 tackles), Jamar Taylor and Mike Atkinson, is its ability to thwart the pass.
The Broncos have yielded just three touchdown passes this season and made 16 interceptions (17th nationally), statistics not likely to excite Washington quarterback Keith Price, coming off a poor performance in the Apple Cup, in which he had a late, fourth-quarter fumble and an overtime interception, helping WSU erase an 18-point deficit and win 31-28.
Price’s Boise State counterpart, Joe Southwick, started the season by throwing 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions in the Broncos’ first nine games. But in the past three, he threw nine touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I think he’s been playing a little bit different level,” said Boise State coach Chris Petersen. “It’s all about being consistent and improving, and I think he’s done those things.”
The Huskies will also have their hands full with senior RB D.J. Harper, who ran for 1,065 yards and 15 touchdowns, seven of them in Boise State’s last five games.
Making its third consecutive bowl appearance under Sarkisian, Washington would finish 8-5 with a win, most victories in a season since the 2001 Huskies finished 8-4. UW lost its shot at a nine-win season by botching the Apple Cup.
“It’s upsetting that we lost to our rival and the way we lost it is unacceptable, but no one is really hanging their head over it anymore,” said tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, named to Associated Press’s third All-America team. “We are still playing and that’s all that counts.”
Washington and Boise State, going for its fourth consecutive bowl victory, have played one common opponent, San Diego State. The Huskies defeated the Aztecs 21-12 Sept. 1 in their season opener, while Boise State lost 21-19 Nov. 3.
BOWL HISTORY: MAACO Collision Repair & Auto Painting is a franchisor of auto painting and collision repair shops based in King of Prussia, PA. It was founded in 1972 and has sponsored the bowl game since 1992. The bowl began as the California Raisin Bowl and was played in Fresno from 1981-91. Then it reorganized and moved to Las Vegas, becoming the Las Vegas bowl. Six Pac-12 schools — Oregon (1997), Utah (1999, 2001), UCLA (2002), Oregon State (2003), California (2005) and Arizona (2008) — have won the bowl game.
SERIES: Dates to Sept. 8, 2007, when Washington snapped No. 22 Boise State’s 14-game winning streak with a 24-10 victory at Husky Stadium. Redshirt freshman Jake Locker threw for one touchdown and ran for another as the Huskies defeated a ranked opponent for the first time since 2003. Washington’s Roy Lewis had s stellar defensive game with 11 tackles and an interception. He also broke up a fourth-down pass in the end zone with four minutes left.
UW HEAD COACH: Steve Sarkisian (26-24-0) is in his fourth season. After a 5-7 record in 2009, Sarkisian guided the Huskies to a 7-6 record in 2010 that included a 19-7 victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. That marked Washington’s first postseason game since the 2002 Sun Bowl. Sarkisian coached the Huskies to another 7-6 record in 2011, including a berth opposite Baylor in the Alamo Bowl. Prior to joining the Huskies, Sarkisian served as a USC assistant under Pete Carroll (2001-03, 2005-08). He also worked as an Oakland Raiders assistant in 2004. Sarkisian played quarterback at Brigham Young University and later played in the Canadian Football League.
UW STATS / NOTES
HUSKIES OFFENSIVE LEADERS
|Keith Price||12||393||243||2484||18 /11||124.4|
HUSKIES DEFENSIVE LEADERS
|Tackles||Timu 76, Parker 70, Feeney 67|
|Sacks||Hudson 6.5, Shirley 6.5, Feeney 4.0|
|Interceptions||Peters, Thompson. Glenn, all 3|
|Passes Defensed||Peters 10, Trufant 9, 3 with 6|
|Forced Fumbles||Shirley 4, Parker 3|
|Fumbles Recovered||Glenn 2, Shamburger 2, 5 with 1|
Pac-12 Standings / North
|Stanford||11-2||8-1||Rose Bowl, Jan. 1|
|Oregon||11-1||8-1||Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 3|
|Oregon St.||9-3||6-3||Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29|
|Washington||7-5||5-4||Las Vegas Bowl, Saturday|
Pac-12 Standings / South
|UCLA||9-4||6-3||Holiday Bowl, Dec. 27|
|ASU||7-5||5-4||Kraft Hunger Bowl, Dec. 29|
|USC||7-5||5-4||Sun Bowl, Dec. 31|
BOISE STATE NOTES: Boise State defeated Miami of Ohio (39-12), BYU (7-6), New Mexico (32-29), Southern Mississippi (40-14), Fresno State (20-10), UNLV (32-7), Wyoming (45-14), Hawaii (49-14), Colorado State (42-14) and Nevada (27-21) and lost to Michigan State (17-13) and San Diego State (21-19) . . . Boise State went 5-1 at home and 2-4 on the road . . . Boise State has three players who are Washington state natives, including OL Marcus Henry (Bellevue H.S.), WR Kirby Moore (Prosser) and NT Hilton Richardson (Lake Washington).
BOISE STATE HEAD COACH: Chris Petersen is completing his seventh season as head coach of the Broncos. He has a record of 83-6 and has won at least 10 games every season. Petersen has led the Broncos to seven consecutive bowl games and has a 4-2 record. Petersen worked as a wide receivers coach at Oregon prior to arriving at Boise State. He is a native of Yuba City, CA.