Washington vs. Boise State (-5.5, 45)
MAACO BOWL LAS VEGAS STORYLINES
1. It is a testament to how well Chris Petersen and his staff have done at Boise State that a 10-2 season feels like a down year. The 15th-ranked Broncos were likely out of BCS consideration when they fell at Michigan State on opening weekend but stayed strong behind a defense that allowed less than 15 points and managed to claim a share of the Mountain West. While Boise State was expected to take a small step back, Washington’s step forward in the Pac-12 never fully materialized this season and a loss in the Apple Cup left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth last month.
2. The Huskies have struggled offensively all season and will have to go up against a stout Boise State defense. Washington did not get to 30 points in Pac-12 play until facing the bottom of the league in Utah and Colorado late in the season. The Broncos gave up more than 20 only three times and never let a team hit 30. Boise State has been especially strong against the pass, holding opponents to 163.4 yards - fourth in the nation.
3. Washington is trying to lock down its first eight-win season since 2001 while the Broncos are hoping to avoid their first three-loss campaign since 2007. The schools have met only once previously (a 24-10 victory by the Huskies in Seattle in 2007) but will be playing in back-to-back contests, with the Broncos set to open next season in Seattle on Aug. 31.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE: The line opened at Boise State -6 at most shops with the total shrinking to 45 after opening at 46.
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the mid-50s with partly cloudy skies. Winds will blow out of the SSE at 10 mph.
CONSENSUS: Nearly 65 percent of Covers Consensus players like the Broncos to cover.
* Huskies are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Broncos are 4-0 ATS in their last four bowl games.
* Under is 5-0 in Broncos’ last five games vs. a team with a winning record.
* Under is 4-1 in Huskies’ last five games vs. a team with a winning record.
ABOUT WASHINGTON (7-5, 5-4 Pac 12): The Huskies went 7-6 in each of the previous two seasons and were a trendy pick to challenge for the Pac-12 North with junior quarterback Keith Price entering his third year in coach Steve Sarkisian’s system. But Price and the entire team developed a tendency to come up short in their biggest games early in the season. Losses at LSU in September and a three-game slide in October saw the Huskies outscored by an average of 28.5 points. They were on their way to a five-game winning streak to close the regular season before squandering an 18-point lead to rival Washington State. Price could spend most of his day in Las Vegas handing off to sophomore running back Bishop Sankey, who totaled 1,234 yards and 15 touchdowns in the regular season. Sankey will be going up against the soft spot in the Broncos’ defense, a front line that has allowed an average of 141.3 yards on the ground.
ABOUT BOISE STATE (10-2, 7-1 MWC): The Broncos will be making their 11th straight bowl appearance and third in a row at the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. They beat Utah 26-3 in the 2010 game and took out Arizona State 56-24 in Las Vegas last December. Boise State was replacing four-year starter at quarterback Kellen Moore in 2012 and took a while for the offense to catch up to the defense under new signal-caller Joe Southwick. The junior came on at the end of the season, throwing seven touchdowns and no interceptions over the final three games to bring the Broncos back to a tie for first place in the Mountain West. Senior running back D.J. Harper finished the season with back-to-back 100-yard games and should see plenty of carries against a Washington defense that has surrendered 164.3 yards on average.