Utah Utes (10-2, 7-1 MWC) vs. Boise State Broncos (11-1, 7-1 WAC)
MAACO Las Vegas Bowl
December 22 - 8:00 pm - ESPN
Las Vegas, NV
$1,000,000 payout per team
This year's Las Vegas Bowl will be the nineteenth year that Sin City has hosted a bowl game. This game features a pair of teams most thought could end the season as BCS-busters, the Boise State Broncos and the Utah Utes; as it stands, both teams ended the season with double-digit win totals. Boise State is making their first appearance in Las Vegas, while Utah has appeared twice, winning both, in 1999 and 2001. Last season BYU whipped Oregon State 44-20 for a victory in the 2009 edition of the Las Vegas Bowl.
This season's Las Vegas Bowl will mark the fourth time Boise State and Utah have squared off on the gridiron. The Broncos have been victorious each time, most recently in 2006 when they beat the Utes, 36-3.
Boise State enters as champions of the WAC, while Utah was the second place team in the MWC behind undefeated TCU. Each of these programs had set their preseason sights on bigger things, and the Broncos were three points away from an undefeated season and a trip to the BCS. Instead, Kellen Moore and company will square off with an underrated Utah defense who have held opponents to ten points or less in half of their games this season. While the Boise State air attack has been prolific all season long, the Broncos could be surprised by the Utes. It's also possible that a victory in the Las Vegas Bowl may not be great motivation for a team that expected to be playing on New Year's Day or better.
- Analysis for SBN Pittsburgh by Aaron Hawley
SBN PITTSBURGH BOLD PREDICTION: Utah 28, Boise State 27
Aaron - Utah
Anson - Boise State
Jeff - Boise State
Both schools already have won two BCS bowl games. On the downside for Utah, starting quarterback Jordan Wynn won't be able to play due to shoulder surgery, meaning backup Terrance Cain will get the call. That's not too bad, considering he's 9-1 as Utah's starter. It will be interesting to see how the Broncos react after dropping from a BCS bowl game to Las Vegas. -- Ted Miller
Mountain West old star, meet your replacement. Considering Boise State got hosed out of a BCS appearance, this isn't a bad matchup against the future Pac 12 member that could make future appearances here. It would've been great if Utah QB Jordan Wynn was healthy to make this a battle of young guns, but Terrence Cain is a good, veteran passer and the Utes will give the Broncos a game. An argument could be made that this is the best non-New Year's Day matchup.