Week 1 - Boise State at Washington

Posted Aug 26, 2013

Week 1 Fearless Prediction - Boise State at Washington

Week 1
- Northwestern at California
- Boise State at Washington
- Nevada at UCLA
- Rest of the Pac-12, Part 1
- Rest of the Pac-12, Part 2

Boise State (0-0) at Washington (0-0) Aug. 31, 10:00, Fox Sports 1

Why You Should Give A Hoot: With revenge on its mind for last year's Las Vegas Bowl defeat, Washington returns home following 21 months of Husky Stadium renovations.

U-Dub is excited about finally getting back into its familiar building in time for the start of the 2013 season. The program is also rather eager to take that next step under Steve Sarkisian after going 7-6 for three straight years. While Sark has done a brilliant job of moving beyond the disastrous Tyrone Willingham era, fans are getting justifiably a little antsy about their team's mediocrity. What better way to make a statement than at home inside dramatically spruced-up digs?

Boise State remains one of the most consistent programs in America, a credit to head coach Chris Petersen and his staff. Remarkably, the Broncos have failed to win 10 games just twice in the last 14 years. However, three consecutive Las Vegas Bowl invites have Boise feeling a little unfulfilled as well. It's one of the favorites out of the Mountain West, but, as usual, the preseason bar is set at busting into a BCS bowl game.

Why Boise State Might Win: An entire offseason is a lot of time for Petersen to prepare for an opponent. Petersen is one of the game's best game-planners, so don't expect the Broncos to hurt themselves. They'll hammer away at Washington's two biggest concerns, pass protection and replacing star CB Desmond Trufant. The line, led by DE Demarcus Lawrence, is the strength of the D. And QB Joe Southwick finished 2012 strong and will be better in Year 2, connecting liberally with sure-handed target Matt Miller.
Why Washington Might Win: After using a ton of underclassmen in 2012, the Huskies are poised to break out in a big way this season. Sarkisian and his staff have recruited very well lately, so U-Dub will enjoy an advantage in speed and overall talent on Saturday night. Bishop Sankey is a top-notch back, and the receivers, like Kasen Williams, will be able to exploit a completely rebuilt Boise State back seven. The Huskies are the better defensive team, boasting excellent range at linebacker with John Timu and Shaq Thompson.

Who To Watch Out For: This is a particularly enormous game for U-Dub QB Keith Price, who regressed in 2012 and needs to do an about-face for the Huskies to emerge.

- A leaner , meaner Jay Ajayi could have a huge season for the Broncos. The sophomore back showed hints of his sizable potential as a rookie backup in 2012.

- Huskies' coordinator Justin Wilcox, who cut his teeth as an assistant in Boise, wants his DBs to be aggressive in Week 1. Pressing and jamming receivers at the line is the best way to disrupt a Broncos' passing game that relies so heavily on timing.

- Yeah, Washington will miss injured TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. But the staff loves its Plan B options at the position, namely 6-6, 257-pound junior Michael Hartvigson, who won't be ignored by Price.

- Broncos' C Matt Paradis vs. Huskies NT Danny Shelton is one of the best game-within-the-game matchups no one will talk about, yet should. Paradis is a steady all-star, while Shelton has next-level potential if he can become consistent.

What Will Happen: Washington will give itself a housewarming gift on Saturday, a pivotal and hard-fought victory over Boise State. The Huskies will play with a sense of urgency and enthusiasm, treating their fans to an entertaining 60-minute nail-biter. Injuries have stalled U-Dub in recent years, but the start of a new campaign means that the team is close to full-strength. While Price will play adequately, Sankey will lead the charge with a couple of scores and more than 100 yards rushing, with most coming in the second-half.
Prediction: Washington 23 … Boise State 17
Line: Washington -3.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 ‘N Sync at VMAs) … 4