At this point, they might as well rename the game the "Boise State Bowl."
For the third consecutive year, the Boise State Broncos will travel to Sin City to play in the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl. This time, they're going up against the Washington Huskies, a team that poses more of a threat than many may think based on its 7-5 record.
Four of Washington's five losses came against Top 25 competition: No. 8 LSU, No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Stanford and USC, who was No. 11 when they met. The Huskies took down No. 13 Oregon State, making them 1-4 against Top 25 competition.
Not only has Washington been tested against more stout competition all season long, it has a secret weapon in defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who was the Broncos' defensive coordinator from 2006 through 2009.
Wilcox is as familiar with what the Broncos are going to try and do on offense as anyone not currently affiliated with the Boise State program, and that certainly gives the Huskies a leg up heading into this game.
But that works both ways.
The Broncos know what Wilcox is going to try and do on defense. They know his tendencies.
While the Huskies' defense was a Top 40 unit in scoring, allowing 23.8 points per game, it is no match for the Broncos' defensive unit, which finished sixth in the nation in scoring defense this year by allowing just 14.9 points per game.
Offensively, both teams have junior quarterbacks who have shown flashes of brilliance but have been maddening to watch as well: Boise's Joe Southwick and Washington's Keith Price.
While Boise State doesn't have the resume that Washington does, the key to this game is going to be defense—and Boise State has the edge in that category.
It's going to be close, but that defensive edge will be what puts the Broncos over the top.
Prediction: Boise State 24, Washington 20