The Maaco Bowl Las Vegas isn't a BCS game. It isn't even a top-tier bowl game. What it is, however, is a decent bowl game and the best opportunity available for the Broncos.
No matter the venue, what the Broncos did was make the most of the moment—again.
Boise State finishes the 2012 season 11-2 overall and 7-1 in the Mountain West Conference. Not too bad for what was a "rebuilding year" for head coach Chris Petersen and his crew.
Still, the question remains, what does a mid-level bowl game victory over a Washington team that went 7-5 in the regular season and 5-4 in the Pac-12 mean for the Broncos? Well, it means a lot.
Critics can point to the game and say that Boise State beat a "middle of the road Pac-12 team," and that Boise State and their fans shouldn't be so excited about a win like that. However, could you imagine those same "critics" if the Broncos had lost?
Not only that, but at the beginning of the season Boise State was written off by those same critics and others who simply said the best days of the Broncos were behind them. Of course, they know nothing of the rich winning tradition Boise State has had at every level of completion on the grid iron.
No matter how you slice it, this game was huge for the Broncos. Boise State under Chris Petersen is now 5-2 in bowl games. However, an even more impressive statistic is the fact that Petersen's teams are 9-2 versus BCS competition and 6-1 against the Pac-12.
The only loss Petersen's team has had against a Pac-12 team was against this same Washington team in the last "rebuilding" year, 2007.
Critics can say what they want, but Boise State just keeps making the best of the situation they are given.
Ya, but Washington...
In the hours following the Maaco Bowl, several fans poured out their opinions on various boards and sites that allow such banter. Some of those authors have pointed out that Washington was young and had lots of injuries.
Sure, that is true. However, the very same thing can be said of the Broncos. This is one of the youngest teams Chris Petersen has had in Boise. Not only that, but huge injuries to the team have certainly hurt the Broncos. Mike Atkinson is just one big name that comes to mind for BSU, but there have been several this season.
Not only that, but arguably the best defensive player Boise State has was sent home from the bowl game for violating team rules. Sophomore Demarcus Lawrence would have made the game look much different, especially in the area of quarterback pressure and the running game.
The bottom line is that both of these teams are young, and both of these teams had significant injuries or absences during this game.
Ya, but Washington...
Some also tried to discount the Boise State victory by pointing to the fact that the Huskies were an average Pac-12 team at best.
Okay, well didn't they beat Stanford? That's right, they did.
What did Stanford do this season? Oh, that's right, they won the Pac-12 and are playing in the Rose Bowl.
No matter what critics might claim, the fact is that Stanford had two losses on the season. One to Notre Dame and the other to Washington.
The Huskies also beat another top 10 team when they beat Oregon State 20-17. So, if the Huskies are a "middle of the road" Pac-12 team, what does that say about the conference?
The truth is the Pac-12 is a very competitive conference, and even the Pac-12 South's top team UCLA finished 6-3 in conference. USC had the same record as the Huskies at 5-4 and Arizona finished 4-5 in the Pac-12.
This was big for Boise State.
There are several reasons this game was huge for the Broncos.
First, the confidence it builds for this young team going into 2013 is enormous. An 11-2 season capped off with a gutsy, hard-fought victory in a bowl game will yield dividends in the future.
Not only that, but Joe Southwick's confidence has to be greatly improved, and that should only help the junior as he gets ready for his senior season.
As previously mentioned, this game also avenges the only Pac-12 loss in the Petersen era. Boise State under coach Pete has now beat every team they have faced from the Pac-12, and that is huge.
Not only that, but the Broncos won on a game-winning field goal, in the state of Nevada, no less. That alone is enough for Bronco Nation to enjoy this one.
The Broncos and Huskies will meet in Seattle to open the season in 2013. Will this bowl game matter then? The simple answer is yes—and no.
Both teams will look a little different next season. Both should be better, and both should have injured and suspended players back.
The game will be in Seattle, in a newly renovated Husky Stadium. Washington will want to win that game badly, and it figures to be a brutal battle. As close as the Maaco Bowl was, you have to believe the Huskies will be a slight favorite at home next year.
For the Broncos, that game will be very big. It will be another season opener on national television in front of a hostile crowd, and they will be the underdog. It sounds like Chris Petersen's favorite environment.
The Maaco Bowl Las Vegas was a very nice win for Boise State. It builds confidence for the young team, it caps off a great season, establishes the Broncos for 2013, helps Joe Southwick's confidence and his reputation with the fanbase, it was good for the fans and it keeps the program rolling.
How is any of that bad?
Washington is a good team and those in the Pac-12 know that. A win over the Huskies is impressive regardless of what some might claim. You could tell during the game that Washington was there to play, and in the end, the Broncos pulled out a nail-biter.
Boise State is the team that went 11-2 in a rebuilding year and finished the season on a game-winning field goal.
Those are headlines few people thought they would read at the beginning of the season, and that includes many Bronco fans.
What a season!