Boise State-Utah: Analyzing Wild Horses and Ute Indians in the Las Vegas Bowl

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Boise State-Utah: Analyzing Wild Horses and Ute Indians in the Las Vegas Bowl
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images
Nov. 19, 2010: The Broncos celebrate a touchdown on the "smurf turf." The Utes will make Boise see red.

Wild horses better drive you to this game.  It’s going to be full of thoroughbreds.  In “Sin City,” the odds shouldn’t make any difference.  This one should be a doozy. 

At 21-3, combined, the Boise State Broncos and the University of Utah Utes will battle in the 2010 Las Vegas Bowl.

Between the Utes and the Broncos, they own all of the BCS wins by non-automatic qualifying schools—each has two victories apiece. 

Viva Las Vegas!

Remember the California Raisin Bowl (1981-1991)?  In 1992, it reorganized, dipped out of Fresno, Calif., and moved to Las Vegas, Nev., as the Las Vegas Bowl.

Not many bowls outside the BCS games will match teams with the kind of success Boise State and Utah have experienced in recent years.  “We will have our work cut out for us,” said Utes coach, Kyle Willingham.

What works in the Las Vegas Bowl stays in the Las Vegas Bowl. 

The Utah Utes are 2-0 in this bowl game.  Only BYU has more appearances than Utah in Vegas.  Only Utah’s Mountain West conference mate, UNLV, can match the Utes for best record in the bowl.  The Running Rebels are two-for-two in it, too.

Ranked No. 10 in the BCS, Boise State had their hearts set on playing in the Rose Bowl and a national championship.  They’ve dominated the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), but lost a close game to the University of Nevada Wolf Pack. 

That paved the way for Nevada and Hawaii to take their share of first place in the WAC.  Boise saw its national championship hopes, thought they beat Hawaii, sail away on the Pacific Ocean.

They’d won the WAC seven out the last eight years.  They have one of the top programs in the country—no doubt about it.  For being disrespected by their WAC rivals, Chris Peterson’s Broncos could try to make an example out of Utah.   

But, the Utes also command respect as one of the nation’s top programs.  They are the original BCS Buster.   

By crushing Pittsburgh, 35-7, in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and Alabama, 31-17, in the 2009 Sugar Bowl, that’s 66-24 combined.   The Big East and the SEC were busted and exposed by the Utes.

Utah has won their last nine bowl games—the longest active winning streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision.  Since Whittingham took over for Urban Meyer as head coach, they’re 5-0 in bowls.  

Overall as a program, Utah’s bowl record is 12-3.  That’s the highest winning percentage in the nation among teams with 10 or more bowl games under their belts. 

Their starting quarterback, Jordyn Wynn, is injured and won’t play in the Las Vegas Bowl.  Quarterback Terrance Cain will handle the starting duties at quarterback for Utah.  A senior, he’s 9-1 as a starter in his career.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Aug. 28, 2008: Whittingham watches his team perform in Ann Arbor, MI. He'll have them performing in Vegas.

A starter since a redshirt freshman, junior Kellen Moore, a Heisman Trophy candidate, will be on display in the Las Vegas desert. 

Ranked ahead of Oklahoma State, USC and Connecticut, the Broncos can run the ball.   “Three yards and a cloud of dust,” though, doesn’t describe Boise’s offense.   Averaging 200 yards every game, Boise State’s rush offense is No. 24 in the country. 

The Broncos are ranked No. 4 in NCAA FBS Divison I total offense.  A very balanced team, Boise is also ranked No. 4 in total defense. 

The Utes are ranked No. 42 in total offense and 56th in rush offense.

Throw those stats aside.  Dennis Rodman aside, cloaked in red—the blood of Jesus—the Utes will be playing for Utah and the Mormon nation.

Utah is one of the programs with American Indians for mascots.  About 3,500 Ute tribal members live on reservations in northeastern Utah.  The name of the state honors them.

A Ute is known as a person who lives in the “land of the sun.”  That’s what Ute means, and it is Utah’s state slogan.  The mountains can make it look like a magical place.  

Both the Utah and Boise are known for their bowl season magic.    

When it comes to trick plays, the Broncos have all the gadgets and tools.  They upset Oklahoma in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl on a trick play to end the game.    

Whittingham’s family has been coaching defense long enough to have seen a lot trick plays.  His teams do a good job of stopping them and keeping it moving. 

Giving up a mere 19 points per game, Utah is ranked No. 20 in total defense.

This game will have a lot of offensive thunder and defensive lightning on the field.  Thunderwood is wood from a three struck by lightning. 

Boise State and Utah are capable of striking and putting up big scoring numbers.  The game will get going at Sam Boyd Stadium on Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. on ESPN. 

Over the years, some of the nation’s top talent has appeared in the Las Vegas Bowl.  Stephen Jackson of the Rams, Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks and the Colts’ Austin Collie have won the game’s MVP.

Who will this game's MVP be? I guess we'll have to wait and see. 

Wild horses couldn't drag me away from this game.  Through all of my research, I get an idea of what might happen, and I'll share it with you.  

Prediction: The Broncos defense gives up only 13.58 points per game.  Utah scores 35.58 points per game.  Boise scores 46 points per game, second only to the No. 1 ranked offense—Oregon.  That's an advantage for Boise.

The action will go back and forth, however, and several wrinkles from the offenses will confuse the defenses.  Both teams will move the ball consistently, but the Broncos defense will step up in the end.  Boise State will win it, 42-40.

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