Boise State will face the Washington Huskies in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas this bowl season. The ironic thing is that these same two teams will face each other at the beginning of the 2013 season in Seattle.
However, that can't be helped, and it could be an interesting two-game series.
The Broncos (10-2, 7-1 MWC) and Huskies (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) should be a good game, and for those Boise State fans who think it will be another Arizona State or Utah blow out in Vegas, think again. These Huskies are tough, and they aren't in a good mood.
Let's look at some interesting facts about Washington, as well as what Bronco Nation can expect in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas 2012.
Who will win this game?
Bowl Game Information: Maaco Bowl Las Vegas
Date: December 22, 2012
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. PT
Location: Las Vegas, Nev.
Stadium: Sam Boyd Silver Bowl
First, Washington is a good team.
They have a victory over San Diego State—yes, the same Aztecs team that upset the Broncos. But they also beat then-No. 8 Stanford early in the season and then-No. 7 Oregon State four games later. They also have wins over Colorado, Utah, Cal and Portland State.
Next, Washington has a familiar face.
The defensive coordinator for the Huskies is none other than Justin Wilcox. Yes, that Justin Wilcox. Boise State fans know him as the Broncos former defensive coordinator. He left Boise after the 2009 season headed to Tennessee but stayed just one year before moving back out to the Northwest to lead the Washington defense.
To say he knows the Broncos is quite an understatement, and it gives the Huskies a bit of an advantage.
How do these teams match up?
These two teams are a bit different—on paper, at least. Boise State is currently averaging 30.4 points per game on offense, but the Broncos only allow 14. 9 against the defense, which is the sixth-best in the nation.
Washington, on the other hand, is only scoring 23.8 points per game, and the Huskies are allowing that exact same number against their defense per contest.
However, it must be recognized that the competition Washington has been facing all season has been better than what the Broncos have seen.
Washington faced San Diego State, LSU, USC, Stanford, Arizona, Oregon State and Oregon this season. Compare that to the top seven teams Boise State faced: Michigan State, BYU, Miami Ohio, Fresno State, Wyoming, San Diego State and Nevada.
When you compare the two schedules, it is clear the numbers can't be trusted when comparing these two teams. It will be a difficult challenge for the Broncos.
Boise State is playing much better at the end of the season.
If Boise State would have met Washington in the season opener this year, it would have been a much different game. However, over the course of the season the Broncos have gotten much better on offense.
They played outstanding defense all season, but with a brand new quarterback in Joe Southwick and a new starting running back in D.J. Harper, Boise struggled early.
In the first four games of the year the Broncos averaged just 22.75 points per contest. But in the last four games of the season that same Boise State team averaged 34.25 points a game. This bodes well for the Broncos, and the momentum should help them in Las Vegas.
Washington has apple in their teeth.
The last game of the regular season should have been a victory for Washington. Instead, the Huskies fell to instate rival Washington State in the Apple Cup in a heart breaking overtime loss 31-28.
It was an embarrassing loss, and you have to believe the Huskies are going to play Vegas with a chip on their shoulder.
A win for Washington could help the sting of losing to the lowly Cougars, who finished 3-9 overall and 1-8 in the Pac-12. Yes, that one win was against the Huskies.
Look for Washington to play inspired in the Vegas Bowl.
Keys to the game.
Boise State must continue to play its kind of defense. If the Broncos can do that, it will make it hard for Washington to get anything going on offense. With the Boise offense now playing better, it should be able to outpace the Huskies if its defense comes through.
However, if Washington can move the ball and make it a shootout, the Broncos could be vulnerable. They haven't been in that kind of game this season, and it could be the type of game the Huskies need to take home the victory.
Look for more in-depth analysis and predictions about this bowl and others here on Bleacher Report's college football section.