BOISE STATE BRONCOS (10-2)
vs. WASHINGTON HUSKIES (7-5)
Las Vegas Bowl - Las Vegas, NV
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Boise State -5.5, Total: 44.5
No. 20 Boise State returns to a familiar place when it battles Washington in Saturday's Las Vegas Bowl.
This is the third straight Las Vegas Bowl for the Broncos who have outscored opponents 99-37 during a three-game bowl win streak. This matchup features two schools that each scored 56 points last bowl season, but the Huskies surrendered 67 points in a loss to Baylor, while Boise State allowed just 24 to Arizona State. Washington is just 2-4 (SU and ATS) in non-home games, losing to 14-point underdog Washington State in the regular season finale. The Broncos are 5-1 SU (4-2 ATS) away from the blue turf with the lone loss coming in August by just four points at Michigan State.
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Although Boise State isn't the high-octane offense that it was under departed QB Kellen Moore (44.7 PPG in 2010-2011), the school still put up 30.4 PPG and 390 total YPG with Joe Southwick under center. And the junior is playing his best football late in the year, completing 53-of-75 passes (71%) for 624 yards (8.3 YPA), 7 TD and 0 INT in leading his team to three straight victories. RB D.J. Harper (1,065 rush yds, 15 TD) is the focal point of this Broncos offense with six 100-yard rushing games, including two in row. The Broncos defense has been top-notch all year, ranking ninth in the FBS in total defense (305 YPG) and sixth in scoring defense (14.9 PPG). DE Demarcus Lawrence (9.5 sacks, 13.5 TFL) anchors a stout front four while senior LB J.C. Percy mans with the middle with a team-best 101 total tackles (61 solo). The secondary has also performed at a high level, giving up just 163 passing YPG, which is tied for the 4th-fewest in the nation. Boise State has allowed a mere three TD passes all year while picking off 16 passes.
This Boise defense could create a lot of problems for Washington QB Keith Price who has majorly regressed in his junior season with 15 fewer passing TD and a considerably lower passing efficiency (124.48, 77th in FBS) than in 2011 (161.93 rating, 7th in FBS). The Huskies are trying to shake off a tough loss to rival Washington State, when they relinquished an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost 31-28 in overtime. Price had a key fumble in the final quarter and then threw an interception in the extra session to seal his team's fate. There have been no complaints about the job RB Bishop Sankey has done in replacing departed star RB Chris Polk this year. Sankey (1,234 rush yds, 15 TD) has rushed for more than 80 yards in nine of the past 10 games, topping 100 yards in six of those contests. In the past four games, Sankey has totaled 637 yards from scrimmage (159 YPG) with 6 TD runs. The loss to WSU ended a four-game win streak where the defense allowed just 48 points combined (12.0 PPG). This unit has made tremendous strides since last bowl season when they allowed 67 points and 777 total yards in the Alamo Bowl loss to Baylor. The Huskies give up just 23.8 PPG and 353 total YPG for the season, a huge improvement from the 453 total YPG and 35.9 PPG from 2011. In the past five games, the Huskies have forced 19 turnovers (3.8 per week).