2019 Las Vegas Bowl Game Preview: Keys To A Boise State Win vs. Washington
Boise State wraps up the 2019 season against the Washington Huskies in the Las Vegas Bowl. Here’s how the Broncos can win.
The Broncos look to finish strong against an old coach.
2019 MITSUBISHI LAS VEGAS BOWL: #19 Boise State Broncos (12-1, 8-0 Mountain West) vs. Washington Huskies (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12)
WHEN: Saturday, November 21 — 5:30 PM MT/4:30 PM PT
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium; Las Vegas, Nevada (35,500)
STREAMING: You can get a free seven-day trial of FuboTV by clicking here.
RADIO: The Boise State broadcast can be found on the affiliates of the Bronco Sports Network, including the flagship 940 AM (KBOI), while the Washington broadcast can be found on the affiliates of the Washington Sports Network, which includes flagships 97.7 FM and 1000 AM (KOMO) in Seattle.
Alternatively, the radio broadcast can be streamed online via TuneIn.
SERIES RECORD: The series is tied 2-2. In the last meeting on September 4, 2015, the Broncos defeated the Huskies, 16-13, in Boise.
LAS VEGAS BOWL RECORD: Boise State is 4-0 all-time in the Las Vegas Bowl, most recently defeating Oregon in 2017. Washington won its lone previous appearance here in 2012, defeating Boise State.
ODDS (via OddsShark): Washington -3
SP+ PROJECTION: Washington by 8.3 (68% win probability)
FEI PROJECTION: Boise State by 1.8
After being a part of the game since its creation, the Mountain West Conference will bid farewell to the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday afternoon when the Boise State Broncos face off with the Washington Huskies.
While the landing spot may feel like a snub after falling just short of earning the Group of 5’s New Year’s Six bowl bid, there is an opportunity for the Broncos to reach thirteen wins for the first time since their fabled 2009 campaign. To do it, they’ll have to go through former Boise State head coach Chris Petersen, who will lead the Huskies one last time before retiring.
Here’s how the Broncos can tally one last win against Washington.
Three Keys to a Boise State Victory
1. Get pressure on Jacob Eason.
When Pro Football Focus put together their most recent top-to-bottom quarterback rankings a month ago, they noted that Eason had a significant difference in performance when he worked from a clean pocket compared to when he had defenders in his face. He’s also generally struggled when the pressure to move the chains mounts, as his passer rating drops from 171.40 to 139.64 to 112.73 from first to second to third down, meaning that getting home early and often will be key.
Taken in tandem with the fact that left tackle Trey Adams will sit out the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft, this appears to be an angle in which Boise State has a sizable advantage.
2. Create big passing plays on offense.
The Broncos have been able to do this all year long, with 23 plays of 30-plus yards through the air, and it hasn’t mattered much who has been under center to do it. Against Washington, however, it’ll be a much tougher task because the Huskies have allowed just ten such plays this season, which is tied for eighth among FBS defenses.
It’ll be interesting, then, to see how the Broncos deploy John Hightower against a capable cornerback duo in Myles Bryant or Elijah Molden. Molden, in particular, has 13 pass breakups and rated as PFF’s best defensive back inside the numbers. It may be easier to attack the sidelines, in that case, putting a lot of pressure on Hightower and Khalil Shakir to bring down whatever deep shots the offense chooses to make.
3. Make Washington pay for their aggressiveness on offense.
One thing that the Huskies have in common with Hawaii, Boise State’s opponent in the conference championship game, is that they haven’t been shy about using all four downs to move the chains. Unlike the Warriors, however, a lot of that willingness to go for it has come from necessity: Washington has converted just 34.4% of their third-down tries, the worst rate in the Pac-12.
That does a lot to explain why, in drives beginning between their own 20- and 40-yard line, the Huskies have been one of the most effective offenses in the country and averaged 2.9 points per drive (13th nationally) in those situations. If the Broncos can duplicate their performance from two weeks ago on that front, they should be able to sit pretty and put their offense in a strong position to succeed.
The way Boise State played down the stretch, it’s hard to imagine that anyone could topple them, but things have definitely broken in their favor during the downtime. With star tight end Hunter Bryant and two starting offensive linemen out for the game, it’s hard to imagine the offense will be able to replace all of that production at once and keep Curtis Weaver, Chase Hatada and company from wreaking havoc.
It would be naive to entirely dismiss Washington here, but the Broncos should be able to stay one step ahead of their old coach and put one last feather in the proverbial cap, an exclamation point on the program’s best Mountain West season to date.
Boise State 24, Washington 20