Boise State Broncos at Washington Huskies
Saturday, December 21, 2019 at 7:30 PM (Sam Boyd Stadium)
Washington -3; Total 49 Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
A pair of Pacific Northwest foes will face off in the Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 21 when the No. 19 Boise State Broncos (12-1) face the Washington Huskies (7-5) at Sam Boyd Stadium. It will be the last time that the Las Vegas Bowl will be played at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Boise State has developed into a perennial power and is now the winningest football program in NCAA history with a .731 winning percentage, which is just above Ohio State for that honor. This is the Broncos’ 22nd-straight season with a winning record which is the longest active streak in the country, the 15th-longest in NCAA history, and the longest by a Group of 5 school ever. Boise State has also been nationally ranked in each of the last 18 seasons, which is tied for the seventh-longest active streak with USC.
This is the 18th-straight year that Boise State has been selected to go to a bowl game, which is tied for the fifth-longest run in the country with Wisconsin. The Las Vegas Bowl has been kind to the Broncos as they are 4-0 all-time in the game, previously knocking off Utah, Arizona State, Washington, and Oregon in the game. The win over the Huskies came in 2012 when Boise State won 28-26. The two teams are 2-2 all-time against each other.
The Broncos enter the game on a six-game win streak while winning 12 of their 13 games this season. The lone loss was a 28-25 defeat at BYU, a place that also cost another high-profile team some problems this year (USC). Boise State knocked off Hawaii to become Mountain West Conference champions on Dec. 7 thanks to 212 yards passing from Jaylon Henderson and a smothering defense that held Hawaii’s run-and-shoot offense to just 320 yards, well below the 469.3 yards per game it averaged all year. Henderson’s two touchdown passes went along with his 51 yards and a touchdown on the ground. George Holani also carried the ball 16 times for 67 yards, while Khalil Shakir caught seven passes for 89 yards and a touchdown.
Henderson, who won the starting quarterback position after freshman Hank Bachmeier was out for injury twice, is completing 63.2 percent of his passes for 1,032 yards with 11 touchdowns against only two interceptions since taking over as the starter. John Hightower is the team’s leading receiver with 923 yards and eight touchdowns on 48 catches. Shakir is close behind with 834 yards on 60 grabs to go along with six touchdowns. Holani needs 21 yards in the bowl game to top 1,000 yards rushing as a freshman. He has also run for seven touchdowns this year.
This will be Washington’s 40th bowl game all-time and 10th in a row, which is the longest streak by any Pac-12 school. It will be Chris Petersen’s final game at the helm of the Huskies’ program and will pit his current team against his former team, where he coached for 13 seasons. Petersen coached for Boise State when the Broncos beat Washington in the Las Vegas Bowl six seasons ago.
Washington opened the season with a 4-1 record but went just 3-4 the rest of the way with losses to Stanford, Utah, Oregon, and Colorado in the final two months of the year. With Pac-12 title aspirations well behind them, the Huskies recovered to end with season with a win in the Apple Cup 31-13 over Washington State. It was Washington’s seventh-straight year win in the rivalry game. While Jacob Eason managed the game well from the quarterback position, completing 15-of-22 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown, it was the Husky defense that won the game, holding the Cougars’ top-ranked passing attack to just 308 yards, well below the season average of 444.3 yards per game.
Eason has been outstanding this season, completing 63.8 percent of his passes for 2,922 yards and 22 touchdowns against just eight interceptions. Salvon Ahmed became a 1,000-yard rusher in the Apple Cup and has rushed for exactly that number this season with nine touchdowns, while Hunter Bryant has caught 52 passes for 825 yards and three touchdowns. Aaron Fuller has more catches (54) and touchdowns (six) than Bryant, but for fewer yards (673).
This game is going to be all about motivation and the cliche of whatever team wants it most is going to win the game. Think about it -- Boise State played all year working to win a Mountain West Conference title and did exactly that just two weeks ago and now it gets to play a Pacific Northwest rival trying to prove which team is the best team in the area. Washington won the Apple Cup after losing three of four games and hasn’t played since Nov. 29. That’s a long wait for a team that originally had College Football Playoff hopes.
Both are good teams, but one team will simply have had better preparations heading into this game. Take Boise State and the points.