Las Vegas Bowl Picks: Boise State Broncos vs. Washington Huskies

by | Dec 16, 2019 | cfb

Boise State Broncos (12-1 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. Washington Huskies (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS)
Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl
Date and Time: Saturday, December 21, 2019 at 7:30PM EST
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: ABC

Point Spread: BSU +3.5/WASH -3.5 (WagerWeb)
Over/Under Total: 49.5

The Boise State Broncos come to Sam Boyd Stadium on December 21 to take on the Washington Huskies in the Las Vegas Bowl. It’s an interesting game, with Washington coach Chris Petersen facing the team he helped bring to prominence. And it’s a good Boise team, fresh off a 12-1 regular season where they were unbeaten in the Mountain West. In their last game, they prevailed in the Mountain West title game with a 31-10 win over Hawaii on December 7. But they will be taking on a pretty good Pac-12 team in Washington. In their last match, they beat Washington St. in the Apple Bowl, 31-13, on November 29. Who will come out ahead in this one?

Letdown Potential for Boise and Washington?

Granted, they’ve lost just one bowl game under head coach Bryan Harsin and facing their former coach is an interesting storyline. Still, we have a team on the cusp of 13 wins relegated to a pretty low-end bowl and facing a 7-5 opponent. You have to wonder about teams like Boise who overperform and peak in their conference title game, only to sometimes fall flat in a bowl spot that fails to get the juices flowing.

It was a rough season for Washington, and having to come back three weeks later for a game in Vegas could be a tough spot. Coach Petersen has resigned, and that can’t exactly pump the locker-room up with great energy. Their goals this season had nothing to do with the Las Vegas Bowl. They couldn’t hang with the elite in their conference this season with a lot of what they were trying to do on offense falling pretty flat. And in losing to bottom-end conference teams like Colorado and Stanford, they were imminently beatable this season.

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How Viable is Washington Right Now?

The lopsided win over a Washington State squad that has a lot of offensive spark in their last game shows they’re still into it. Their defense can still control games in spots and keep them competitive when their offense isn’t clicking. And for most of the season, it has underwhelmed, with QB Jacob Eason only throwing two TDs in his last three games. With one of their top weapons on offense sitting out as he prepares for the draft with TE Hunter Bryant being one of the best in the country, it’s a significant issue for their struggling offense. With LT Trey Adams doing the same thing, it doesn’t help much.

How Boise’s Offense Matches up against the Huskies “D”

Boise could be facing one of the toughest defenses they have seen this season. In their last three games, Washington allowed a total of 40 points. With that coming against Pac-12 offenses, it stands to reason they could give even a good MWC team a run for their money. The time off, however, will help Boise and some dinged-up personnel heading into this bowl game. The Huskies have some pass-rushing juice, and that secondary has cranked out a lot of NFL players over the last handful of years. Boise has a lot of balance and some good young talent on this side of the ball, but things might be tougher to come by in this spot.

Still, in terms of being prolific, Boise has one of the top offenses in the west, averaging almost 37 points a game without many opposing defenses getting much traction. Starting QB Hank Bachmeier has missed some time, and with him still listed as questionable, they might have to go with Jaylon Henderson, who has good legs and has done well in his time behind center. With an excellent 1-2 running back punch with freshman George Holani and Robert Mahone, they can do a lot of damage on the ground. Additionally, with receivers John Hightower, Khalil Shakir, and CT Thomas, they have receivers who have been consistent and productive all season. But if one were to project that it might not come off as well against this Huskies’ defense, that might not be a totally misplaced thought at the end of the day.

How Boise’s Defense Will Impact the Game

The Broncos’ defense is a big part of their winning recipe this season. Against a Washington offense that has struggled, especially in the second half of the season, they could make an impact. Curtis Weaver will be in the NFL one day and leads the pass-rush with an impressive 13.5 sacks on the season. They have playmaking in the secondary with guys like Kekoa Nawahine. They have a lot of beef up front that has kept teams from seeing their ground-games flourish. It might be fair to say Washington is no stranger to playing good defensive teams, as they have played several this season. But Boise’s defense would likely resemble a mid-pack Pac-12 team’s defense, and even in that realm, this is a Washington offense that has not taken off.

Take the Points on the Broncos

There are a lot of moving pieces in this matchup where there aren’t many reliable points of reference. Letdown factor for Boise aside, Washington appears to have landed in this position with more of a thud. While Boise hasn’t been very spellbinding for a 12-win team, their low-profile speaks to a sound balance on both sides of the ball. It might not be electric or even allow the Broncos to compete against the better teams from the major conferences. What it does make them is an appealing underdog against a Washington team that had one of their worst seasons in years. I’ll take the points.

Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Boise State Broncos plus 3.5 points.