Las Vegas Analysis: Boise St 28, Wash 26
The instant analysis and reaction to the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl
Michael Frisina hit a 27-yard field goal with just over a minute to play, and Jeremy Ioane sealed the victory with a pick to give Boise State its second straight Las Vegas Bowl win. The Broncos held the lead for most of the game until Travis Coons pushed Washington ahead by one with just over four minutes to play. Boise State appeared to have the game in hand early with Holden Huff scoring on a 34-yard pass from receiver Chris Potter, and Geraldo Boldewijn catching a 16-yard touchdown pass for an 18-3 lead, but Bishop Sankey led the Huskies back with a 26-yard touchdown run and Keith Price ran for a seven-yard score and threw a six-yard scoring pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The Broncos' final scoring drive went 76 yards in 14 plays taking 7:05 off the clock.
Boise State: LB J.C. Percy made 17 tackles. … The Broncos held the ball for 10:53 in the fourth quarter. … Sacks: Boise State 4, Washington 1. … QB Joe Southwick completed 26-of-38 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns, he ran 11 times for 39 yards and he kicked a 33-yard punt inside the 20. … TE Holden Huff caught two passes for 35 yards and two scores.
Washington: RB Bishop Sankey set the school's bowl rushing record with 205 yards and a score on 30 carries, and he caught seven passes for 75 yards. ... LB John Timu made 15 tackles with a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. … DE Josh Shirley made three tackles with a tackle for loss and two forced fumbles. … QB Keith Price completed 20-of-39 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown with two picks, and he ran for a score.
It has to drive ADs across the country nuts that they cannot entice Chris Petersen to leave Boise State. The coach has now taken four straight bowl games, and just secured his fifth consecutive 11-win season … in a year that was supposed to be a rebuilding one for the Broncos.
Broncos QB Joe Southwick didn't make the locals forget about Kellen Moore this season, but he sure did evolve since the opener against Michigan State. He went 26-of-38 for 264 yards and two scores on Saturday, and finished the year without a pick in his final 131 attempts.
Next season is going to be a critical one for Washington's Steve Sarkisian. He and his staff did an average job in 2012, and with a slew of starters returning on both sides of the ball, the expectations will be sky high on Montlake.
Priority No. 1 in Seattle during the offseason will be to teach the O-line how to pass protect. No. 2? Find a way for QB Keith Price to recapture his 2011 form. Yeah, he was sacked four times in the bowl game, but on both of his picks, including the one that killed the potential game-winning drive, the pocket was clean.
Was DE Beau Martin quintessential Boise State this afternoon or what? The unknown transfer from CSU-Pueblo entered the MAACO Bowl with 10 tackles and a sack, a little-used backup. With star pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence suspended, though, Martin stepped up with five stops and a game-high 1.5 sacks. His effort will get lost in a stat sheet, but it was a microcosm of why the Broncos continue to click regardless of the situation.
By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek
-- Remember, this is not the Washington-Boise State game that both programs need(ed). The 2013 season opener is the one that counts, and Washington will really need it.
-- Why does Washington really need to win the 2013 opener? The Huskies will be returning much of their roster and will be in position to make a serious run at the Pac-12. Stanford is a road game, but Oregon is a home game. What's particularly noteworthy about the 2013 season in Seattle is that Husky Stadium will be newly renovated. Emotionally and situationally, it's a year when Sarkisian finally has to deliver on his promise and potential. Merely muddling along isn't what Sark was hired to do… not at the program Don James lifted to the top tier of college football. Sarkisian has done an okay job to this point in his career; he took over for Tyrone Willingham at a program that was in disrepair. In 2013, though, it will be fair to expect a much bigger return on Washington's investment in the former Pete Carroll assistant. This loss to Boise State is not a time to panic. A win over Boise State in the late summer of 2013 will put the Huskies on schedule. The margin for error, though, is now smaller than it's ever been for Sarkisian. The preliminary stage of his UW career is certainly over.
-- This game has to be very encouraging for Boise State on multiple levels. Let's emphasize that if the Broncos had lost, 26-25, they wouldn't have had reason to be particularly depressed. The biggest thing Chris Petersen needed to get from this game was a clear indication that Joe Southwick could cut the mustard at quarterback. That was clearly the case. Southwick's instincts, reads and reactions were all markedly better than in the regular season. Southwick ran with toughness and played at a higher level in the red zone. He wasn't flawless – he missed a relatively easy touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter – but he made considerable strides. He should be very confident in Husky Stadium when the 2013 season opener arrives.
-- It's not advisable to spike the ball with more than 15 to 20 seconds left. Washington wasted a down and brought about a third down, which might have made Keith Price press a little more than he otherwise would have. Some will say that it's reasonable to spike the ball outside the final 20 seconds of regulation. Okay – that's a point worth discussing instead of dismissing out of hand. Yet, coaches should train their teams to live by this maxim: "If you can get to the line to spike a ball, you can get to the line to run an actual play." That's how the two-minute drill is ultimately supposed to be handled.
-- There were so many flaws and limitations on this Boise State squad. Sure, TCU was no longer in the Mountain West Conference. Yes, Boise State easily could have (maybe even should have) lost to BYU this season. True, Nevada has slipped from its 2010 level of performance, giving the Broncos a crucial boost. Yet, for all of those points, Chris Petersen still squeezed 11 wins out of THIS version of Boise State. Lavish praise thrown in Petersen's direction is rarely if ever excessive.
By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball
Just to reiterate, there's no such thing as a meaningless bowl game. Like most of the other postseason contests, the Las Vegas Bowl wasn't over until the final moments of the game.
If there were an award for most improved player, Joe Southwick would win it easily. Rightly or wrongly, Southwick took most of the heat for Boise's struggles on offense this season. However, he came up big for the Broncos in the second half, making first downs with both his arm and his legs. He'll be more of playmaker than a game manager for Chris Petersen next season - regardless of what conference he plays in.
However, the game ball belongs to Bishop Sankey, who carried the Huskies throughout the contest. With 204 yards rushing and another 74 receiving, Sankey turned in the most complete performance of any running back during the postseason. Expect to see his name on many preseason watch lists next year.
Did anyone else question Petersen's decision to play for a game-winning FG? While I usually don't second-guess coaches that will end up in the College Football Hall of Fame, it's worth noting that playing for three hasn't worked out too well for the Broncos in the past.
Washington is clearly the most difficult team to figure out. When the Huskies are at their best, they have no problem beating powerhouse teams like Stanford and Oregon State. However, they also suffered some head-scratching losses to Arizona and archrival Washington State. It will be interesting to see what the university brass will do if Sarkisian's squad finishes with a similarly frustrating 7-6 season next year.
By Bart Doan
Follow me @Bart_cfn
Boise State with a field goal to win a football game? We were all fooled by the doomsday talk. Surely this is the stunning, great awakening event that the Mayans were foretelling with all those scrawlings so many years ago.
First off, the Las Vegas Bowl was probably one of the more interesting games at first glance. It was a total paradoxy of teams and scheduling ideals this year. Normally stout in that department, Boise really left most of us to wonder how good they really were, with few wins over teams with winning records and a hindsight loss to scuffling Michigan State that looked sub par when you look back on it.
Washington, on the other hand, takes the other road travelled. Yearly, the Huskies appear near the top of any strength of schedule list. This one lived up to the billing. The trademark gadget play from BSU, a Chris Potter wide receiver touchdown pass. Missed extra points. Both teams snatching defeat from the claws of victory.
But as good games do, it came down to one drive for both. Joe Southwick navigated the Broncs to a reasonable field goal chance and it went through. Keith Price and Washington sorely mismanaged the clock late...even with the generous rules college football offers...and Price was forced to take a shot downfield that maybe wasn't the best idea just to get something in reasonable field goal range.
That's the real story. This ends up being a big win for Boise, an 11 win season after a year where they were expected to step back momentarily as a program suffering such heavy losses. But this game helps re-illustrate this program is here to stay, even in the "down" years. Larger conferences are surely taking notice of what is staggeringly, a mostly unfettered BSU team in the wild world of college football realignment.
Washington, on the other hand, goes back with one more year of Price, and as we seemingly say every season, the look of being able to "take the next step." At some point though, that step needs to come before folks start getting antsy. They meet these Broncos again next year, and we'll see right off the bat how much they've improved, once again, likely saddled with the "teams ready to break out" tag.