Chris Petersen faces off against former team in Las Vegas Bowl
Call it bittersweet, but Chris Petersen says goodbye to both of his collegiate teams in the Las Vegas Bowl. In his fourteen years as a head coach, Petersen split it between Boise State and Washington. Eight years for the Broncos. Six years for the Huskies. With both, he significantly raised their success and ceiling.
To say the least, Petersen had an illustrious career with both programs. In his time with them, he’s responsible for the Broncos and Huskies best seasons of recent history. To each, he’s a coaching titan.
But now, after stepping down due to anxiety and quality of life, Petersen’s final game is match-up between the two teams he holds most dear. And the two programs that hold him most dear.
So, a question remains: Can coach Petersen shrug off his familial ties with the Broncos and lead the Huskies to a Las Vegas Bowl victory?
Las Vegas Bowl Match-up by the Numbers
- 12 wins, 1 loss
- 0.39 (No. 29) DFEI, per footballoutsiders
- 36.8 (No. 14) points-per-game
- 20.6 (No. 24) points-against-per-game
- -3.19 (No. 95) Strength of Schedule
- 10.74 (No. 24) Simple Rating System, per sports-reference
- 267 passing yards per game
- 174 rushing yards per game
- 33 pass attempts to 39 rush attempts per game
- 234 passing yards-allowed-per-game
- 34 pass attempts-allowed-per-game
- 113 rush yards-allowed-per-game
- 32 rush attempts-allowed-per-game
- -0.3 in turnover battle
- 7 wins, 5 losses
- 0.49 (No. 20) DFEI, per footballoutsiders
- 31.5 (No. 48) points-per-game
- 20.4 (No. 23) points-against-per-game
- -2.6 (No. 45) Strength of Schedule
- 11.10 (No. 22) Simple Rating System, per sports-reference
- 245 passing yards per game
- 152 rushing yards per game
- 31.5 pass attempts to 35 rush attempts per game
- 225 passing yards-allowed-per-game
- 35 pass attempts-allowed-per-game
- 133 rush yards-allowed-per-game
- 34 rush attempts-allowed-per-game
- -0.4 in turnover battle
Boise State won’t go down easy
First off, it’s important to remember that Boise State nearly went undefeated heading into bowl season. They narrowly lost to BYU 25-28 in October. If not for that loss, the Broncos could be vying for a third undefeated season this century.
Keep in mind, Boise State’s road to the Las Vegas Bowl wasn’t simple. They started three different quarterbacks this season due to injuries. Yet, even with the bad luck, they still went 12-1 with 36.8 (No. 14 in FBS) points-per-game. Coach Bryan Harsin created an excellent offensive system with interchangeable pieces. Each and every year, Boise State proves that they can win on offense no matter what playmakers they have. It’s an outstanding program.
Because of this high-powered scoring, they are always a threat to score over 30 points and keep games competitive. The Huskies need to respect this offense and Jimmy Lake has his work cut out for him.
Washington’s has advantages in the Las Vegas Bowl
Strength of Schedule
Although Boise State’s 12-1 record is far above Washington’s 7-5 record, context must be added. According to Sports Reference, Boise State’s negative-3.19 Strength of Schedule ranks 95th in the FBS, while Washington’s negative-2.6 ranks 45th. Because of this, the Huskies 11.10 Simple Rating System ranks 22nd, just ahead of the Broncos’ 10.74 SRS (24th). Yes, Boise State almost went undefeated. But, opponents matter.
Explosive Offensive Plays
Opponents are the first advantage of Washington. Washington has been tested. Granted, they lost five games this season. But, going up against top Pac-12 defenses and still churning out 31.5 points-per-game is impressive. Now, instead of going against a Utah or Oregon defense, the Dawgs get Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. As shown in the Apple Cup, Washington is comfortable letting quarterback Jacob Eason let it fly.
Downfield throws are a large part of the Huskies offense. If the Huskies can execute a similar scheme to the Apple Cup victory, they should do well. In that game, they:
- Let Eason take deep shots
- Utilized young talent
- Mixed up pass-to-rush ratio
- Went for it on fourth downs
They were aggressive and came to play. In order to beat Boise State, they’ll have to do the same. Thankfully, Boise State’s defense is nothing compared to some of the Pac-12 opponents Washington already faced this season. Yes, missing Hunter Bryant will hurt. He’s the team’s leading receiver. However, with rising play-makers like Terrell Bynum and Cade Otton, Eason should have a capable receiving corps to throw to.
Washington’s Defensive Prowess
Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake (soon to be head coach), put together another strong Washington defense. Per Football Outsiders, the Huskies rank 20th in DFEI and allow just 20.4 (No. 23) points-per-game. Additionally, the Huskies are in the top-40 in yards-allowed-per-game and explosive plays allowed.
As shown in their deafening win against Washington State, Lake’s defense can make plays. Players like Joe Tryon are stepping up for the Huskies. His 8 sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss display the Dawgs strength. If UW football wants to win the Las Vegas Bowl, they’ll have to make life difficult for the Broncos’ high-powered offense. Tryon needs to get to the quarterback and UW’s secondary needs to cover. They made it look easy against Washington State.
But, as said above, Boise State’s offense is their success. The Broncos will come to play. However, if Lake’s defense can keep Boise State under 25 points, the Huskies should win. That, based on their stats against Pac-12 competition, is completely doable.
Reigning Purple and Gold in Vegas
Although Chris Petersen’s UW tenure shows a struggle at the finish line, he now has his big moment. In his six seasons with the Huskies, he’s brought them to six consecutive bowls. However, so far, he’s lost four of five. This is his time to finish his coaching career on a brilliant note. Beat his former team, end his Washington career as a hero and ride off into the sunset.