Boise State Broncos vs. Washington Huskies Las Vegas Bowl Pick

December 21, 7:30 PM EST

Betting Odds

Point Spread: 
Washington -3.5

The Boise State Broncos battle the Washington Huskies in the Las Vegas Bowl on December 21. The Mountain West Conference champion Broncos are fresh off a 12-1 season where they didn’t lose in-conference. Winners of this very bowl game two seasons ago and having beaten UNLV here this season, they return to a familiar setting. Standing in their way is a 7-5 Washington team that had a letdown season, but still showed some fire in their last game with a big win over Washington State. For all their failings, they can still play defense. Three weeks since their last game, what kind of Huskies team will surface in Vegas?

What the Road Here Tells Us

Boise has been very consistent this season, delivering as a sound betting choice at 8-5 ATS and on the cusp of a 13-win season. They haven’t generated a ton of respect for winning 12 games, but their balance is their strength. There might not be anything they do great, but they are very solid in all relevant areas. But while they’re the dogs here, will playing a bowl on December 24 against a 7-5 team lead to a bit of a letdown spot? Will playing MWC defenses all season leave them a little soft for a good Pac-12 defense?

There might be more concern on the other side of the ball. For a Washington offense that has trouble firing under ideal conditions, hearing that TE Hunter Bryant and T Trey Adams will sit out to prepare for the draft doesn’t help at all. Neither does the fact that their head coach, former Boise head Chris Petersen, has already resigned, and this is his last game on the Washington sideline. It kind of leaves the impression of people abandoning ship. This wasn't where they wanted to end up this season, and the situation with their coach and top players on offense only enhanced the notion that we might not see a peak Huskies squad in Vegas.

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Implications to Consider

With Curtis Weaver applying the pass-rush, along with a playmaking secondary that can do damage, Boise's defense is pretty capable. Against a deflated Huskies' offense operating at a personnel deficit, they could conceivably control this game. Washington QB Jacob Eason sagged a bit at the finish line, with just two TDs in his last three games. With the aerial attack lagging and not figuring to get better, they will have to run the ball a lot against a Boise run-defense that is among the best in the west. The aerial attack has lagged and might be worse without Bryant, while their run-game faces a tough matchup.

Averaging nearly 37 points a game, quarterback issues have not slowed down the Boise offensive attack. Quarterback Jaylon Henderson might have to start this game with Hank Bachmeier still banged-up, but there might not be a lot to separate the two, as the QB competition came right down to the end. With freshman George Holani leading the vital run-game, they have a ton of balance, with receivers John Hightower, CT Thomas, and Khalil Shakir. Washington did close the season with some great defensive performances, so we’ll see how this all comes off at Sam Boyd Stadium. It won’t be easy against a Washington defense that has thrived at times even in light of their offense not always delivering.


Petersen coaching against his former team adds a bit of intrigue, but I don’t think it pumps wind into the coach or the team’s sails with Petersen on the way out. He left Boise six years ago and who’s to say it won’t pump up the Broncos in a game where they face a team with no axe to grind otherwise. Boise coach Bryan Harsin outdid Petersen in their only other meeting in 2015. I wouldn’t bank on that dynamic affecting this game markedly. There is pride on the Washington sideline and players eager to make an impression. They still have that defense that has allowed just 40 points in their last three games. And just those factors make them a favorite over a team that beat up teams in a lower-caliber conference.

Boise State vs Washington Prediction 12/21/19

As is the case in bowl season, these teams enter this game with a long break, and it might hurt Boise more, even if they've played more recently by a week. The defense might deliver more in this spot at first, and it could be a bit of a grind for the Broncos against one of the better defenses they've seen all season, if not the best. I just don't envision a near-peak Washington team delivering 60 minutes appearing here and getting much separation against a Boise team that has been more-bankable in difficult spots this season than the Huskies. I see Boise making a late move and getting the cover in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Free Pick: 
Take the Boise State Broncos +3.5