Las Vegas Bowl: No. 18 Boise State (12-1 Mountain West) vs. Washington (7-5 Pac-12), Dec. 21, 4:30 p.m. PT
Line: Washington by 3 1/2.
Series Record: Tied 2-2.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Washington’s Chris Petersen will end his six-year coaching tenure with the Huskies by facing the Broncos, the program he was in charge of for eight seasons from 2006-13. Washington is out to show it is the team that had Pac-12 title game participants Oregon and Utah on the ropes and not the one that lost to conference stragglers Stanford and Colorado. A win over Boise State would not only send Petersen out on a positive note but give defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake a lift as he takes over as the next head coach. The Broncos returned to the top of the Mountain West despite starting three quarterbacks and should end the season ranked for the fourth time in six seasons under Bryan Harsin. Bookending the year by beating Power 5 opponents would give Boise State its ninth season with one loss or fewer since 2002.
Boise State RB George Holani vs. Washington’s run defense. It didn’t take long for Holani to announce himself as the next great Broncos runner, collecting 979 yards and seven rushing touchdowns as a freshman. Given the uncertainty at quarterback, it was the consistency of Holani that gave Boise State’s offense a reliable platform to build on, averaging 16.6 carries for 87.6 yards over the final seven games. The Huskies were 5-1 when allowing under four yards per carry, so stopping the run and forcing Boise State to challenge a stellar group of defensive backs that allowed 12 passing touchdowns, fewest in the Pac-12, is paramount.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Boise State: DE Curtis Weaver led the Mountain West with 13 1/2 sacks, one of seven FBS players to average one sack per game this season. The redshirt junior could be playing his final game before entering the NFL draft. Weaver is regarded as a possible first-round pick. He will go up against a Washington offensive line that will be without left tackle Trey Adams, as the redshirt senior is sitting out the game.
Washington: CB Elijah Molden, who is coming off a 14-tackle performance in the Apple Cup, emerged as the latest star in the secondary for the Huskies. He had the first three interceptions of his college career this season as a junior, and his 16 passes defended were tied for the Pac-12 lead. Molden also has five tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
FACTS & FIGURES
Boise State is 4-0 in the Las Vegas Bowl. Petersen led the Broncos to bowl wins there in three straight seasons, 2010 to 2012. ... Washington RB Salvon Ahmed rushed for 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns in 11 games, becoming the Huskies’ ninth 1,000-yard rusher in the past 10 seasons. ... The Mountain West champion has won five consecutive bowl games, including three straight victories in the Las Vegas Bowl. ... Petersen is 146-38 as a head coach. His .793 career winning percentage is the second-best among active FBS coaches. ... Harsin was Petersen’s offensive coordinator at Boise State from 2006-10. The Broncos went 61-5 during that span.