Mitsubishi Las Vegas Bowl Preview

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The Washington Huskies (7-5) and no. 19 Boise State Broncos (12-1) face off in the final Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium. It also happens to be Chris Peterson’s last game coaching the Huskies, as he will transition into a sports administration role with the university. He was the Boise State coach for eight years before accepting the job in Seattle in 2014. Boise State’s Bryan Harsin was previously his offensive coordinator before being named the head coach after a one-year stint at Arkansas State. Both of them remain friends, and Boise State still has many of the same staffers from the Peterson era.

Photo Credit: Washington Huskies

Peterson holds a career coaching record of 146-38, including a 54-26 record at Washington. Whereas, Harsin is 71-21 over seven seasons, including being 64-16 at Boise State in six seasons. Being the team that was selected to play Peterson in his last game, Harsin called it an “honor” at a recent Las Vegas Bowl festivity.

A couple of storylines to follow in this game begin with the Broncos having started three different quarterbacks this year. Senior-Jaylon Henderson, who has started the last five games heading into the team’s bowl game, will be making his sixth consecutive start in the Las Vegas Bowl. Another storyline to follow would be Washington’s quarterback Jacob Eason, who transferred from Georgia in 2018. In the 2016 class, he was rated as the number two pro-style quarterback and fifth overall player in his class by 247Sports.

For Boise State, Jaylon Henderson has passed for 1,020 yards in his four starts. He has been accurate with the football to the tune of a 63.2% completion rate, including having a 10-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His best game came against New Mexico, where Henderson threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns compared to one interception. His coaches, including offensive coordinator Zak Hill, told the Idaho Statesman before the Mountain West Championship game on December 6th, 2019, that “He hasn’t made any of the major mistakes. Not that the other guys have, but he’s kept himself in that spot. He hasn’t given it up.”

Photo Credit: Loren Orr/Getty Images/AFP

However, head coach Bryan Harsin would not commit to a quarterback when asked, saying that, “Hank [Bachmeier], Chase [Cord], and Jaylon [Henderson], have all been a big part of the season, so we’ll see how it goes.” He later added that he could see all of the quarterbacks playing in their team’s bowl game, “100%”.

Bachmeier had thrown for 1,760 yards, including having a 9-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and a 63.2% completion percentage in his team’s first seven games, all of them wins. However, he would be out for several games with an injury while Cord threw for 665 yards, eight touchdowns, and three interceptions in his three starts. The quarterback room is one area in which the Broncos have not shown a weakness.

Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Washington is settled at their quarterback position with Eason and his high-powered arm. Several NFL talent evaluators have called it one of the best arms of the 2020 class. Eason has thrown for 2,922 yards while having a 22-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio on the season as well as holding a 63.8% completion percentage. His interceptions could be the downfall of the team’s success, as he has been inconsistent in his decision-making.

He also has held onto the ball too long during some points of this season, being sacked five times against Colorado, and three times against California, besides having multiple games where he has been sacked at least two times. It has led to the belief that Eason should stay for another year. He must be careful in this game against the Broncos, who have racked up 37 sacks on the season, with an opportunistic defense.

Scott Huff, one of the former Boise State staffers now in his third season at Washington as the offensive line/run-game coordinator, will have to coach well against his old team and help prevent as many sacks as possible. It will be hard against Boise State, who has the 36th overall defense in division one football.

Overall, Washington Head Coach Chris Peterson wants the focus to be on the game, and not on him, but he understands that he’ll be in the spotlight regardless. It was announced shortly after Peterson retired that his defensive coordinator, Jimmy Lake, will be the next head coach at Washington following the conclusion of this bowl game. Several of his players want to send him out with a win, and they say that not only does it mean a lot for them to play for their coach in his final game, but they also want to send the stadium out in the correct manner.

If quarterback Jacob Eason is on point in this game and the Washington Huskies can stop the quarterback trio of Boise State, it should be a good game. If Boise State manages to tear up the field and their trio of quarterbacks carve up the 38th ranked defense in Washington, then this could get ugly. The Broncos are currently favored by three points.

 

            Photo Credit: LV Bowl

 

The Mitsubishi Las Vegas Bowl is scheduled for 4:30 PM PST on Saturday, December 21st, at Sam Boyd Stadium.

 

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