(1090 The Fan / Sports Network) – A rematch of the 2012 Maaco Bowl Las Vegas gets underway on Saturday night as the Washington Huskies host the 19th-ranked Boise State Broncos at the newly-remolded Husky Stadium.
Fifth-year head coach Steve Sarkisian and his Huskies last played in the venue on Nov. 5, 2011 — a lopsided loss to the Oregon Ducks.
In 2012, Washington began with three wins in four tries, key among them being a stunning upset of Stanford, while the one setback being a blowout loss to LSU on the road (41-3). But then the team hit a dry spell with three consecutive defeats before rolling up four straight Pac-12 Conference triumphs. Unfortunately, the Huskies dropped their annual rivalry game with Washington State (31-28) in overtime, leaving them at 7-5 overall and 5-4 in conference play heading into the postseason.
The winningest football team in the nation since 1997, the Broncos have a record of 168-35 (.828), and have been even more dominant under the direction of head coach Chris Petersen who is a staggering 84-8 (.913) through his first seven campaigns in Idaho.
The Broncos have won no fewer than 10 games in each of Petersen’s seasons and for a span of four years (2008-11) the team won 12 or more each time out, the only school to achieve that lofty feat since 1900.
Washington won the first-ever meeting between the programs in 2007 by a score of 24-10 in Seattle, but last year the Broncos returned the favor with a narrow 28-26 triumph during bowl season. Husky kicker Travis Coons to give the Huskies their first lead of the bowl game, 26-25 about halfway through the fourth quarter. But on the subsequent kickoff, Boise State’s Shane Williams-Rhodes returned the ball 47-yards to Washington’s 42-yard line putting the Broncos in good field position. Boise State was able to retake the lead on a 27-yard field goal from Michael Frisina with only 1:16 left in regulation.
The game was decided after Boise State’s Jeremy Ioane intercepted a pass from Keith Price with 14 seconds remaining in the game, giving Boise State the win and the Broncos’ third consecutive victory in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas.
After starting all 13 games for Washington as a junior, Keith Price is back to reprise his role as quarterback for the squad. His 2,726 passing yards represented the sixth-highest single-season total in program history, but still the team was eighth in the conference and 81st nationally with 212.9 ypg through the air.
A key outlet for Price will be wide receiver Kasen Williams who was named honorable mention All-Pac-12 in 2012 thanks to his 77 receptions for 878 yards, both of which were top-10, single-season efforts at UW. Unfortunately, the unit will be without the services of tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, recognized as one of the top performers at his position, due to a broken
pinkie finger on his right hand.
Bishop Sankey is slated to handle the bulk of the running back tasks again after he finished 2012 with 1,439 yards, the third-highest total in UW single-season history.
Defensively, there were only a handful of games that got out of control for the Huskies a season ago. For the most part, the team was able to hang in there by allowing a respectable 24.2 ppg and the hope is that linebackers John Timu and Shaq Thompson will get some added support in 2013. Both players are All-Pac-12 performers in the middle for the Huskies.
Safety Sean Parker, second on the unit in total tackles with 77, 14 stops behind Timu, was responsible for three forced fumbles, while defensive end Josh Shirley piled up six forced fumbles and was tied for the team lead with nine tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.
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