Boise State and Washington will square off in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Saturday, December 22. It will be a clash of two very good defenses, as well as a reunion of sorts. The Huskies' current defensive coordinator, Justin Wilcox, once commanded the Broncos' defense before leaving for Tennessee in 2010.
Wilcox stayed just two seasons with the Volunteers before making the move to Washington in time for the 2012 season. In his first season with Washington, Wilcox has made quite a difference.
This game points to being a defensive battle, and with that in mind, let's compare some of the players who may make a difference. Linebackers are first, so let's see which team has the advantage.
Sophomore linebacker John Timu is the team's leading tackler. On the season he has 76 tackles, with 41 of those being solo. He has also recorded 12 tackles for loss and a single sack.
Timu has broken up four passes and caused a fumble this season. He also has two interceptions. The Apple Cup loss probably didn't sit will with the Washington linebacker, and you can expect him to play inspired football in the MAACO Bowl.
Timu was named honorable mention All-Pac-12 and honorable mention Academic All-Pac-12 as well.
The other starting linebacker is freshman Travis Feeney. On the season, Feeney has recorded 67 tackles, which included 45 solo. He also forced a fumble, had five tackles for loss and five sacks on the season.
Both of these linebackers are playing at very high levels, and that should continue in Las Vegas. Their backups, Princeton Fuimaono and Thomas Tutogi, are extremely capable as well.
Tutogi has 42 tackles on the season and Fuimaono has had 30.
Boise State Linebackers
Senior J.C. Percy is a name every Bronco fan is familiar with. The product of Blackfoot High School in Blackfoot, Idaho. He redshirted in 2008 and has played consistently as a backup and occasional starter until 2012 when he finally got the starting job all to himself.
On the season, Percy had an incredible 101 tackles with 61 of those being solo. He was also recently named first-team All-Mountain West at the linebacker position. J.C. is coming off an incredible game against Nevada where he recorded 13 tackles.
Look for that kind of success to continue against Washington in Las Vegas.
Tommy Smith is another excellent senior linebacker for Boise State. On the season, Smith was third on the team in tackles with 55. He had four tackles for loss and a quarterback sack on the season. He has been quite the force, and along with Percy, these two have become a very good linebacker duo.
Sophomore Blake Renaud and freshman Tyler Gray are the backups for Percy and Smith, and they have certainly had their impressive moments.
Renaud is sixth on the team with 44 tackles with 26 of those being solo. Gray has a respectable 26 tackles on the season. Both of these guys are key backups and that should continue in Las Vegas.
Who has the best linebackers?
Both teams have good defenses. However, Boise State has an edge overall on that side of the ball. Linebackers from both teams are impressive, and this should be a key area to watch in the MAACO Bowl.
If the linebackers from the Broncos or the Huskies have success it could slow down each team's running attack and help to contain very good running backs. However, if either group struggles they could be in for a long day.
Look for more articles on Bleacher Report comparing these two teams leading up to the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas.