The Scoop on the Las Vegas Bowl - Washington vs. Boise State
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas - Washington vs. Boise State (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN)
Saturday's Las Vegas Bowl will be just the second all-time meeting between Boise State and Washington, but the first of two consecutive games between the Pacific Northwest foes. Boise State is set to open the 2013 season at Washington's return to the renovated Husky Stadium. A win would give the Broncos their fifth straight season with 11 or more wins, while Washington seeks its first eight-win season since 2001.
The Huskies have struggled mightily away from Seattle recently, winning two away games in the past two seasons, and Saturday's date in Las Vegas could be a nice time to flip that trend.
One trend that Washington has definitely reversed is its porous defense, as this game will in effect represent the one-year anniversary of Washington's 67-56 Alamo Bowl loss to Baylor and the subsequent hiring of defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. In 12 games, Wilcox has boosted the Huskies' total defense and scoring defense rankings from 94th and 99th, respectively, to 30th and 37th. In the Pac-12, Washington has jumped from 10th to third in total defense.
Boise State has played its customary stout defense, ranking in FBS's top nine in pass efficiency defense, total defense and scoring defense. A strong defensive effort has proven necessary as the Broncos' offense has adjusted from the losses of quarterback Kellen Moore and running back Doug Martin.
D.J. Harper has filled Martin's void, carrying for 1,065 yards with 15 touchdowns and six 100-yard efforts. Quarterback Joe Southwick has come into his own lately, snapping a string of five straight games with an interception by completing 53-of-75 passes (70.7 percent) for 624 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions in his last three outings.