The Bowl Season continues tonight with Utah and Boise State in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. Below is a quick preview of the game with my pick at the end. Along with my pick, I will post the favorite and flip a coin for the game. Whichever method has the most points at the end of Bowl Season, I will use for next year's games.
Las Vegas Bowl, Utah (10-2, 7-1 in the MWC) vs Boise State (11-1, 7-1 in the WAC), 5 PM on ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Lots of intrigue in this one. Two teams that had BCS aspirations find themselves in a pre-Christmas Bowl. Both teams are in the Top 20, and it will be the last game involving two Top 20 teams until New Years Day. It's viewed nationally as worthy of ESPN's prime time broadcast crew, Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit.
Plus, for the second time in as many nights, you can check in on another of the Beavers' opponents. Oregon State faced the Broncos back on September 25th, when Boise State beat the Beavers 37-24 in the Broncos home opener.
It's also another scouting opportunity. Oregon St. hasn't faced Utah in a couple of seasons now, but have a trip to Salt Lake City coming up next fall. This is a great opportunity to refresh your memory about Utes coach Kyle Whittingham's systems, which have been generally very successful in both up and relatively down years.
The game matches two of the best BCS buster programs, both of whom have not only broke thru into the top tier of games multiple times, they have both won, and under both their prior and current head coaches.
Coach Chris Petersen's Broncos are a missed chip shot field goal away from a second consecutive BCS game, a little miss that cost Boise St. to the tune of 8 figures. And the Broncos got another lesson in big time football (and big time tv market) economics when, with the Pac-10 four bowl eligible teams short, the Sun Bowl elected to go with a Notre Dame-(Lame duck coached) Miami matchup. Does anyone who has taken an honest look at the Broncos seriously think they wouldn't have rolled thru El Paso like the winds that are so common place there?
But the number of casual Notre Dame fans, and casual fans that have an opinion, or have at least heard about "The U" on Sunday morning football shows, far exceed the population of the state of Idaho. Throw in the population of Nevada, Utah, and Oregon, and it still isn't close.
And ironically, had Oregon St. not lost by a field goal in the Rose Bowl, and if USC's bowl ban had been delayed by appeal, who knows how much further into bowl season oblivion the Broncos would have disappeared into?
There's much more on this game from BTD's brother blogs at Block U and One Bronco Nation, two of the better team oriented blogs around, capable of both team enthusiasm as well as a good measure of football iq.
Despite the apparent disappointment of missing out on another BCS bowl, which has become a realistic goal every year for both of these teams, don't think this will be a boring consolation bowl. You can see Boise St. is still excited about being in Las Vegas, and Utah, despite, or maybe because they were, beaten handily in their appearances on the big stage against TCU and Notre Dame this year, isn't wasting the opportunity either. The Utes don't want to make the transition to the Pac-12 without "showing up" for a bowl they could well be going back to in the future. Also, their nation best 9 game bowl winning streak is on the line.
Breakdown: Boise State led in SOS and Turnovers, while Utah led in Penalties. Both teams were even in last three games and motivation. Even though my formula has Boise State winning a close one, I am SUPER confident in them. With Utah Quarterback Jordan Wynn out for the game, and his counterpart being Kellen Moore, I like BSU to win big. Plus, I think that Boise will be motivated to show the nation that the Nevada game was a fluke, and that the Broncos were worthy of playing in Pasadena this season.
Las Vegas Current Total to Date
Odds Boise State 4
Coin Boise State 2
Connor Boise State (35) 1 (31)
(AndyPanda also contributed to this story.)