Pac-12: Matt Miller

Bowl primer: Sheraton Hawaii

December, 12, 2013
We continue our look at each of the Pac-12’s opponents during the bowl season.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Honolulu, Dec. 24, 5 p.m. PT, ESPN
Oregon State (6-6) vs. Boise State (8-4)

Boise State Broncos

Coach: Bob Gregory (interim)
Record: 8-4, 6-2 Mountain West
Combined opponent’s record: 71-75 (.486)
Common opponents: Both teams lost to Washington and split their games against San Diego State. The Huskies beat Boise State 38-6 in the season opener and then thumped Oregon State 69-27 in late November. Boise State lost to San Diego State in overtime late in November while the Beavers pulled a miracle finish against the Aztecs back in September for a 34-30 win.
Leading passer: Joe Southwick, 151-of-208 (72.6 percent) for 1,654 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Leading rusher: Jay Ajayi, 226 carries for 1,328 with 17 touchdowns
Leading receiver: Matt Miller, 77 receptions for 934 yards with 11 touchdowns
Leading tackler: Ben Weaver, 86 tackles

What to know: We’re not sure who is going to be quarterbacking this team yet. Joe Southwick has returned from an ankle injury, though Grant Hedrick picked up the slack in his absence. Gregory said there are still a lot of details to be worked out. They have identical touchdown-to-interception ratios (12-5), but Southwick has the slightly higher completion percentage. Though Hedrick’s is a solid 68.2.

But the offense goes through Ajayi, an explosive redshirt sophomore, who averaged 5.9 yards per tote.

Eight wins is a disappointing season for the Broncos. After years of BCS busting and top 10 finishes, the Broncos regressed a bit. And then Chris Petersen left for Washington, which led to Wednesday's hiring of Arkansas State’s Bryan Harsin.

All four of Boise State’s losses came on the road this year (at Washington, Fresno State, BYU and San Diego State), so perhaps a trip to a different time zone won’t be great for the Broncos. Worth noting, however, that their strongest win of the year was probably at Utah State against an Aggie team that went to the conference championship game.

Key matchup: Oregon State’s front seven is surely going to be tested by the Boise State running game, but you have to think the Broncos’ secondary is equally challenged by the Sean Mannion-to-Brandin Cooks connection. Outside of maybe Fresno State’s Davante Adams (122 catches, 1,645 yards, 23 touchdowns), the Broncos probably haven’t seen a receiver like Cooks (120, 1,670, 15). A lot of it will come down to Mannion’s decision making. After throwing just three interceptions in his first eight games, he has 11 in his last four.

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas keys

December, 22, 2012
Three things to watch in today's MAACO Bowl Las Vegas between Washington and Boise State:

1. Red zone production: Once you get there, you better get points. That's been an issue for Washington and quarterback Keith Price this season. After ranking second in FBS last year with an 80.8 red zone touchdown percentage, the Huskies have dropped to 66 percent. Last year Price was among the nation's leaders in red zone completion percentage and touchdowns with 74.1 and 25, respectively. This year he's only completing 57.6 percent in the red zone with 14 touchdowns. The Broncos have allowed just three receiving touchdowns all year and rank in the top 10 nationally in pass defense and pass-efficiency defense. They also rank seventh in red zone defense. Both teams are in the bottom half of the country in red zone offense.

2. Bring the heat: Boise State is one of the best teams in the country at protecting its quarterback. The Broncos rank seventh nationally, allowing less than a sack per game, which makes life a lot easier on quarterback Joe Southwick. The Huskies are middle of the road when it comes to creating pressure, averaging about two sacks per game. Washington's sophomore ends Josh Shirley and Andrew Hudson both check in with 6.5 sacks on the year.

3. Run, then gun: Both teams boast 1,000-yard rushers this season: Bishop Sankey for Washington (1,234 yards 15 touchdowns) and D.J. Harper for Boise State (1,065 yards, 15 touchdowns). Both have similar compact frames and both possess home run potential. Look for each offense to get their guys established on the ground and then cut it loose to their marquee receivers. Price is actually at his best when he goes deep -- tossing six touchdowns with no interceptions on throws of 15 yards or more. He'll look to either Mackey Award finalist Austin Seferian-Jenkins or wide receiver Kasen Williams. Southwick's favorite target is Matt Miller, who has 60 catches and five touchdowns on the year.