College Football Analysis: MAACO Las Vegas Bowl Preview
Boise State Broncos (11-1, 6-1 in Mountain West Conference)
Most impressive victory: 35-21 at Georgia (Georgia Done, Sept. 3)
Only loss: 35-36 vs. Texas Christian University (Nov. 12)
Notable alumni: Ryan Clady, Quintin Mikell, Orlando Scandrick and Kyle Wilson
Boise State may be the Rodney Dangerfield of NCAA Football: “No respect, no respect at all ... that’s the story of my life.” The Broncos are probably two points away from contending for the national championship. If not for freshman kicker Dan Goodale’s 39-yard field goal attempt drifting wide right as time expired in the TCU game, the boys in blue would be undefeated and likely at the top of the list to square off against No. 1 LSU. Instead, the team is rewarded with a matchup against 6-6 Arizona State in a return trip to the Maaco Bowl. Despite winning most of their games going away, Boise State’s success is perennially considered the result of a light schedule.
This will be Kellen Moore’s final college football game. Regardless of the outcome, he will finish his time at this level as the winningest quarterback in FBS history. He was fourth in the Heisman voting in 2010 and an “also ran” this year despite comparable statistics. His record, before this game, stands at 39-3 (including a stretch of 24 consecutive wins) with three conference championships, two bowl victories and totals just south of 15,000 total yards passing and 150 TDs. Wideouts Tyler Shoemaker (senior) and Matt Miller have had a production season, combining for 1,600 yards and 23 TDs. Senior RB Doug Martin has carried for more than 1,100 yards and as 15 TDs. Senior RB D.J. Harper has enjoyed his most productive season and proved a capable receiver. The Bronco’s offense is ranked ninth overall in the nation – and the defense has played exceptionally too, ranking 21st against the rush and 25th against the pass for a combined rank of 16th overall.
Arizona State Sun Devils (6-6, 4-5 in Pacific 12 Conference)
Most impressive victory: 43-22 vs. USC (Sept. 24)
Worst loss: 27-37 at Washington State (Nov. 12)
Notable alumni: Barry Bonds, Nick Nolte, Jimmy Kimmel, Reggie Jackson, Dan Henderson, Isaiah Mustafa, Jake Plummer
Arizona State’s season was a tale of two halves: 5-1 in the first half and 1-5 in the second half. The nose dive at the end of the season cost veteran head coach Dennis Erickson his job. Junior QB Brock Osweiler, a towering 6 ft., 8 in. tossed for more than 3,600 yards (more than his counterpart) and 24 TDs, but gave up 12 INTs as well. Senior WR Gerell Robinson has been his most frequent target with 1, 156 yards but just 6 TDs. Junior RB tallied 1,038 yards rushing but was inconsistent throughout the season. Though the Sun Devils rank 24 in total offense, their overall defense is 87th.
Twitter Follows For Las Vegas Bowl:
Boise State Broncos
Arizona State Sun Devils
Optimum Scouting's Pro Prospects To Watch:
A game loaded with potenital NFL draft picks, the four premier prospects all play when Boise State is on offense. Kellen Moore, one of the most consistent and efficient quarterbacks in NCAA history, will get his last chance to show off his elite touch and his game understanding, both of which may be the best in the draft (including compared to Andrew Luck). Also on his offense, running back Doug Martin is the near consensus top senior runner in this draft, and could go as high as the middle to early second round. And on the offensive line, tackle/guard prospect Nate Potter has a chance to be a top four round prospect himself. Finally, Arizona State will attempt to put pressure on Moore and contain Martin with star inside linebacker (a likely declaring junior) Vontaze Burfict. Burfict is an outstanding athlete and has a Ray Lewis, Patrick Willis ceiling, but his over-aggression as well as his off-the field issues may be the only two reasons he won't be a top 15 pick. Along wiht Burfict, Jamaar Jarrett at defensive end also is a draftable prospect.
As for the other side of the ball, Boise State's two defensive linemen Billy Winn and Shae McClellin at tackle and end (respectively) are athletic rushers, and both could be taken in the 4th-5th round. Winn is a quick-twitch, inside rusher who can use his suddeness off the line to split double teams, while McClellin can fit in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. Also on that defense, safety George Iioka has a chance to be a special teams guy and a 3rd safety in the NFL long term. As for Arizona State's offense, junior quarterback Brock Oswieler won't be declaring, but his teammates center Garth Gerhart and receiver Gerrell Robinson both could be taken late as well.
Pete: Boise State should want to prove something in this game. They were snubbed for a BCS game, despite an exceptional season including an impressive road victory against the SEC east division winner, Georgia. The Broncos are repeating in a low-profile game (they defeated Utah 26-3 a year ago). They are deserving of a better stage.
Arizona State was in free fall at the end of the regular season and barely qualified for the postseason. Their coach is gone and a new hire (Todd Graham from Pittsburgh) has been plagued by controversy for the callus way he departed his former team. There is little incentive for this club to get up for such a strong opponent.
There really is nothing to pick. This is among the most lopsided of matchups in the 2011 bowl schedule. Boise State will win this game hands down.
Boise State 45, Arizona State 10
Jay (1-0): This looks like one of the safest bets of bowl season to me. Expect well-coached, fundamentally sound Boise to run roughshod over the wild, undisciplined stylings of ASU, which figures to be even more out of control than usual playing under a lame duck coaching staff. The Sun Devils' athleticism may result in some points getting put on the board, but Kellen Moore goes out big here and the game won't be close.
Boise State 52, Arizona State 20
Kevin (1-2): Since we are in Vegas for this one, take Boise State and the points.
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