Las Vegas Bowl 2010 Boise State vs. Utah: 10 Things You Need To Know

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 22, 2010

Las Vegas Bowl 2010 Boise State vs. Utah: 10 Things You Need To Know

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    The Las Vegas Bowl is a relatively new bowl game. The first game was played in 1992, when Bowling Green beat Nevada 35-34.

    Since then, the game has been played every year. Most recently, BYU took down Oregon State 44-20.

    This season, the teams competing for the title will be Boise State and Utah.

    The game will be played on December 22nd at 8:00 PM EST and broadcast on ESPN.

    Read on to learn a little bit more about these two football teams.

Las Vegas Bowl History

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    Boise State Broncos

    The Broncos have never played in the Las Vegas Bowl, so they have a chance to win in their first appearance and hold an undefeated record in the bowl's history.

    Utah Utes

    This game will be the Utes' third appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl. Their first time playing in this postseason game came back in 1999 when they won a close game against Fresno State 17-16. 

    Two years later, in 2001, Utah received another invite to the Las Vegas Bowl, this time to play against the Trojans of USC. The team once again prevailed, winning 10-6 in a rather low-scoring affair. 

    A win over Boise State would help the Utes remain undefeated in their Las Vegas Bowl history. 

Overall Bowl History

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    Boise State Broncos

    The Broncos have been to 10 bowl games in their program's history. 

    The 1999 season saw the Broncos advance to postseason play for the first time when they beat Louisville 34-31 in the Humanitarian Bowl. 

    Since then, they've played in a bowl game every single year except for 2001, winning six games and losing four. 

    Most recently, Boise State beat the Horned Frogs of TCU in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl by a score of 17-10. 

    Utah Utes

    The Utes have a rather impressive bowl history. 

    Their first appearance came at the 1939 Sun Bowl in El Paso where they shut out New Mexico 26-0. Since then, they've played in 14 more bowl games. 

    Utah holds the highest winning percentage in bowl games of all schools that have appeared in at least 10 bowls. They've won 12 games while only losing three. 

    In fact, the Utes' last loss in a bowl game came in the 1996 Copper Bowl when they were trounced by Wisconsin 38-10. Since then, they've won nine straight, most recently the 2009 Poinsettia Bowl. 

This Season

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    Boise State Broncos

    So close to another undefeated season, the Broncos instead came up a missed field goal (or two) short. 

    After a nail-biting 33-30 win over Virginia Tech to start the season, Boise State dominated its opponents for the first 10 games. 

    Then against Nevada, a game-winning field goal was missed in regulation, then another short kick was no good in overtime. The Wolf Pack escaped with a 34-31 win and the perfect season was no more. 

    Boise State took out its frustration in the final game of the regular season by destroying Utah State 50-14. 

    Utah Utes

    Utah started off the season strong but struggled at the end on the way to a 10-2 record. 

    An overtime win over Pittsburgh kicked off the season, then the Utes dominated their next six opponents. The final five games were another story. 

    Utah barely beat Air Force, winning 28-23 when the final whistle sounded. Then the Utes lost back-to-back games against TCU and Notre Dame, neither of which were close. 

    While they closed the season with two straight wins, they came by a combined five points against San Diego State and BYU. 

Offensive Statistics

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    Boise State Broncos

    One of the many reasons for Boise State's success is the Broncos' explosive offense, one of the absolute best of any team playing in a bowl game. 

    Led by Doug Martin, the Broncos gallop to 200.1 yards per game on the ground, the 24th highest rushing average in the country. Amazingly, their passing offense is even better. 

    Kellen Moore has helped Boise State throw the ball for an average of 319.4 yards per game, the sixth highest average in the nation. 

    Not only does Boise State march up and down the field, it also finds the end zone quite often. The Broncos' 46.7 points per game is second-best in all of college football. 

    Boise State's lowest point total this season was 31, and the Broncos have broken 50 points in half their games. 

    Utah Utes

    It's not quite as dominant as the Broncos' offense, but Utah's is still quite good. 

    Utah scores 35.6 points per game, the 18th highest average in college football.

    As for how the Utes do it, the offense is fairly balanced. Jordan Wynn leads a passing attack that has racked up an average of 248 yards per game through the air, the 37th highest such number in the nation. 

    On the ground, the Utes run for an average of 156.8 yards per game, giving them the 56th most effective rushing game in the country. 

    However, the Utes have had a tougher time scoring lately. Four of their five worst scoring totals have come in the last five weeks, including two single-digit performances. 

Defensive Statistics

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    Boise State Broncos

    As if it wasn't enough to have such a great offense, Boise State also possesses one of the nation's top defenses. 

    The 13.6 points per game that the Broncos have allowed is the fourth fewest average in all of college football. 

    Opponents, specifically New Mexico State, San Jose State and Fresno State, have been held scoreless three times in 2010. Additionally, Wyoming and Hawaii were both held to single digits. 

    Utah Utes

    The Utah defense is slightly worse but still quite good. 

    Opponents have scored 19.8 points against the Utes per game, the 23rd fewest in the country. 

    Utah has held three different opponents to single figures in the 2010 campaign. Those teams are San Jose State, Wyoming and Colorado State. 

Quarterbacks

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    Boise State Broncos

    The junior from Prosser, Washington has been absolutely fantastic this season. Kellen Moore is without a doubt one of the most prolific passers in the country. 

    Moore has completed 71 percent of his 345 passing attempts this season. Those 245 completions have gone for 3,506 yards and 33 touchdowns while only five of the incompletions resulted in interceptions. It all adds up to a quarterback rating of 185.04. 

    In fact, Moore has yet to be held without a touchdown pass this season. 

    Utah Utes

    Jordan Wynn, a sophomore from Oceanside, California, is another of the nation's premier passers. 

    Playing in 10 of the Utes' 12 games this season, Wynn completed 186 of his 299 passes, good for a 62.2-percent completion rate. 

    He threw for 2,334 yards in 2010, amassing 17 touchdowns while only throwing 10 interceptions. 

    Wynn has struggled during the late portion of the season, though. 

    He will especially struggle to produce as he sits on the bench and is replaced by Terrance Cane tonight. Wynn will miss the game because of his shoulder surgery. 

Skill Positions

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    Boise State Broncos

    Doug Martin has been the primary ballcarrier for Boise State this year, taking the rock 184 times for 1,113 yards and 11 scores. Although he's received less than half as many carries as Martin, Jeremy Avery has also been quite productive. In 82 carries, Avery has picked up 440 yards and 11 touchdowns.

    Titus Young and Austin Pettis have been the go-to receivers for Kellen Moore this year. 

    Young has hauled in 65 passes for 1,151 yards and nine touchdowns while Pettis has matched Young's touchdown total, gaining 804 yards with his 59 receptions. 

    Other names to watch out for in the passing game are Tyler Shoemaker, Kyle Efaw and Tommy Gallarda. That trio has accounted for 12 more scores. 

    Utah Utes

    The two featured backs for the Utes in 2010 have been Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide. 

    Asiata has rushed 150 times for 673 yards and eight touchdowns. Wide has picked up more yards in less carries, gaining 683 yards in his 143 opportunities. He's also found paydirt 11 times. 

    Jordan Wynn's primary targets in the passing game so far have been DeVonte Christopher and Jereme Brooks. 

    Christopher has racked up 660 yards and six scores on his 39 catches while Brooks has caught 55 balls for 628 yards and four touchdowns. 

    Other contributors in the passing offense include Shaky Smithson, Luke Matthews, Kendrick Moeai and Dallin Rogers. 

Defensive Players

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    Boise State Broncos

    Senior defensive back Jeron Johnson has been the Broncos leading tackler this season, bringing down opposing ballcarriers 72 times in 2010. J.C. Percy and George Iloka are next on the list with 63 and 59 respectively.

    Boise State has also been quite adept at bringing down quarterbacks. Shea McClellin leads the team with 7.5 sacks, followed closely by Tyrone Crawford's 6.5 and Billy Winn's 5.5. Winston Venable and Chase Baker have each recorded 4.5 sacks of their own. 

    As for interceptions, three Broncos have picked off passes multiple times in 2010. Brandyn Thompson paces the team with three interceptions, returning them for just 20 yards. Aaron Tevis has picked off two and taken one to the house while the aforementioned Iloka is the last with multiple picks. 

    McClellin and Derrell Acrey have also recorded pick-sixes this year. 

    Utah Utes

    The overwhelming leader in tackles this season for the Utes has been junior linebacker Chaz Walker. Walker has recorded 103 tackles on the year, 20 more than Matt Martinez, the second-leading tackler. 

    Lamar Chapman and Christian Cox have been the two sack artists for Utah in 2010, recording 5.5 and four sacks respectively. 

    Three players have recorded multiple interceptions on the year for the Utes. Brian Blechen, a freshman defensive back, has picked off four passes and returned them for 16 yards. Brandon Burton and Justin Taplin-Ross have had two each. 

    While Martinez, the junior linebacker with 83 tackles, has only picked off one pass, he is the only player on the team to return an interception for a touchdown this season. 

Special Teams

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    Boise State Broncos

    Kyle Brotzman has been the placekicker for the Broncos this year. He's made 14 of his 20 kicks on the season and drilled 57 of his 59 extra point attempts. However, the senior is best known for his debacle against the Nevada Wolf Pack. 

    Brotzman also punts for the Broncos and has done so 17 times, averaging 43.9 yards per punt. Freshman punter Trevor Harman has also contributed with 10 punts for an average of 44.7 yards per attempt. 

    Chris Potter has returned more punts than anyone else on the Boise State team this year. The sophomore wide receiver has had 21 tries, averaging 13.2 yards per attempt and scoring once. 

    Fellow wide receiver Titus Young has handled the kickoff return duties for the Broncos, fielding 23 kickoffs and returning them for an average of 23.9 yards. 

    Utah Utes

    Utah's place kicker this season has been the reliable senior, Joe Phillips. Phillips has made 12 of his 14 field goal tries and knocked 55 of 56 PATs through the uprights. 

    Sean Sellwood, a sophomore from Salt Lake City, Utah, has handled the punting duties for the Utes in 2010. He's averaged 41 yards per punt on his 33 kicks. 

    Shaky Smithson and Reggie Dunn have shared the kickoff return duties for the most part. The former has taken back 20 kicks for 24.1 yards per return while the latter has had 10 tries, scoring once and averaging 29.8 yards per return. 

    Smith also returns punts and has been one of the best in the country. In his 29 returns, he's averaged 19.7 yards and taken two to the house. 

Prediction

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    Boise State has been playing too well over the course of the season to pick against. It's not too unreasonable to say that the Broncos should be undefeated and playing in a BCS Bowl. 

    But here they are in the Las Vegas Bowl playing against Utah. 

    The Broncos lay claim to a far superior offense and should have no trouble scoring points in bunches against the Utes. While the defensive unit is out on the field, they should be talented enough to cause Terrance Cain and company to struggle mightily at times. 

    Expect Kellen Moore to dominate and engineer one last blowout in the Broncos' 2010 campaign. 

    Prediction: Boise State Broncos