Saturday, December 22, 2012
Pregame: MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
By Kevin Gemmell
Washington (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) vs. Boise State (10-2, 7-1 Mountain West)
Who to watch: After his "Hello, world" moment against Baylor in a 67-56 loss in the Valero Alamo Bowl last year, Washington quarterback Keith Price seems to have regressed this year. His completion percentage is down and he's thrown 18 touchdowns compared to 29 at this point last year. He has the same number of interceptions, 11. After some early struggles and inconsistencies, Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick seems to have finally settled into his role as "the guy after Kellen Moore." He's completing 66.7 percent of his throws with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. In the last three games he's completed 70 percent of his throws with seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
What to watch: How does the Boise State defense defend Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins? The Mackey Award finalist has game-changing size and speed. Maybe more to the point -- how does Washington use him? If Seferian-Jenkins gets 7-10 touches, it could be the difference in the game. But Boise State is stingy against the pass, having allowed an FBS-leading three touchdown passes in 337 attempts this season. The Broncos rank in the top 10 in pass defense and pass-efficiency defense.
Why to watch: Boise State has won its past three bowl games -- the last loss coming to TCU in the 2008 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. If the right Washington team shows up -- the one that knocked off Stanford and Oregon State -- this could be one of the more entertaining games of the bowl season. If the Huskies still have a hangover from their Apple Cup loss, Boise could cruise.
Prediction: Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox has made a world of difference at Washington this season. He knows Chris Petersen and how he preps -- having served on his staff as defensive coordinator. Plus, Washington has played a far more vigorous schedule -- going 2-2 against top-10 teams. Boise State has seen just one Top 25 team and that was in the season-opening loss to Michigan State. Washington 24, Boise State 17.