The first bowl game to feature a ranked team on Saturday will also be the first with some major interest when Washington takes on No. 19 Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Huskies get the chance to cap a disappointing season on a high note, while the Broncos look to add another Power Five victory to their resume.
It will be Chris Petersen's final game as the coach of the Huskies before defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake takes over. Petersen will be squaring off against a Boise State program that he played a big part of as the Broncos become one of the powers of the Group of Five. Will Petersen walk off into the sunset a winner against his former school? Let's take a closer look at the matchup and make some expert picks both straight up and against the spread.
Washington: The Huskies were tabbed to be a dark horse to make the College Football Playoff, so there's a natural concern that playing on the opening weekend of bowl season might be a letdown of sorts despite the fact that it's Petersen's last game. With that said, there's plenty of firepower on this offense that can take advantage of a Broncos defense ranking eighth in the Mountain West in opponent plays of 10 or more yards with 177. Quarterback Jacob Eason has a high ceiling and still has veteran Aaron Fuller to rely on despite the fact that tight end Hunter Bryant -- the team's leading receiver -- has chosen to sit out in preparation for the NFL Draft. Running back Salvon Ahmed has 1,000 yards on the ground and will hope to set the tone for what could be a big senior season. Offensive tackle Trey Adams, one of the best tackles in the Pac-12, will also sit this one out in preparation for the draft.
Boise State: The Broncos have had to navigate through an injury-riddled season from quarterbacks, but have still managed to produce an offense that effectively moved the chains throughout the season. Senior Jaylon Henderson is one of three quarterbacks who have started games for the Broncos this season and threw 10 touchdowns over the last four games of the season. The defense has given up just 5.23 yards per play this season -- third fewest in the Mountain West -- and leads the conference in tackles for loss per game with 6.85.
Event: Las Vegas Bowl
Date: Saturday, Dec. 21 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Sam Boyd Stadium -- Las Vegas
TV: ABC | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Las Vegas Bowl prediction, picks
This is destiny, right? Petersen is coaching the last game of his Washington career against the Boise State program that launched it. You can't tempt fate by siding with the Broncos. Aside from destiny, the Broncos' offense will struggle to move the football against a Huskies defense that's third in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (20.4 points per game) and defensive yards per play (5.15). Washington will ugly this up, ride with their defense and hit enough big plays to pull away in the fourth quarter. Pick: Washington (-3.5)
Who wins Boise State vs. Washington in the Las Vegas Bowl? And what critical x-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread you should jump on Saturday, all from the seasoned expert who has hit seven of his last eight picks on the Huskies, and find out.