Sports

Maaco Las Vegas Bowl Game Preview: Arizona State vs. Boise State

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Coaching his last game for the Sun Devils, Dennis Erickson will have an even tougher time stopping Kellen Moore with one Arizona State defensive player, DE Junior Onyeali, suspended and possibly a second, LB Vontaze Burfict, not in the game.

According to sources, Onyeali was suspended after a heated argument with Erickson at Monday’s practice and did not travel with the team. Burfict, the Sun Devil’s best defensive player was benched for a personal foul in the November 25th loss to California and later reportedly refused to go back in the game, but Erickson said he’ll at least travel to Las Vegas and has practiced with the second team. With Burfict’s status unknown, Arizona State’s shaky defense will be even weaker, already allowing 419.5 yards per game (89th in the FBS) and had given up 36.0 points per contest during the squad’s winless November.

Arizona State will rely heavily on Brock Osweiler to keep the pace matching touchdowns with Moore. The 6’8” junior averaged a FBS ninth-best 303.4 passing yards per game, three spots ahead of Moore, but also threw 12 interceptions. With 3641 yards, Osweiler is 237 yards shy of surpassing Andrew Walter’s 2002 school record for passing yards in a single season. Todd Graham will replace Erickson next season after leading the Pittsburgh Panthers to a 6-6 record this year.

 Kellen Moore is the winningest quarterback in college football history and can win his 50th Thursday with a victory over Arizona State. However, for the second straight year Boise State was denied a trip to a BCS bowl for losses resulting from missed field goals. In 2010, Kyle Brotzman missed a controversial 26-yard field goal with two seconds remaining in regulation and another 29-yarder in overtime that led to a 34-31 Nevada victory.

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On November 12, 2011 Dan Goodale missed a 39-yarder as time expired giving eventual MWC champions TCU the 36-35 win. Along with head coach Chris Petersen, Moore made the Broncos a household name and an annual threat for a BCS title over the last four years. The coach-QB duo had two undefeated regular seasons in 2008 and 2009 (WAC Champions both years), and three losses so far over the course of the span they have worked together. Along with the two regular season losses in the last two years, Boise State’s third loss in that span of time was to TCU in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl.

In the 2011 campaign, Moore has thrown for 3507 yards (13th most in the FBS), and is second-best in the nation in both completion percentage (74.1%) and touchdown passes (41) and seven interceptions. Over his career, Moore has thrown 140 TDs and just 26 picks – with 39 scores and 3 INTs coming in 2009. This year Moore finished fourth in Heisman voting and was named a Maxwell Award Finalist. For the second year in a row, he was named the Touchdown Club of Columbus Quarterback of the Year and it was announced that beginning in 2012 the award will be known as the Kellen Moore Award.

Earlier this month, Petersen shot down rumors he would take over the UCLA job, citing lifestyle over money, for the second time in his career. In 2007, Petersen declined the Bruins’ job offer after Karl Dorrell was fired after the season. A few days later, the Big East announced the Broncos were one of five schools joining the conference effective the 2013 season. The Broncos and San Diego State will be joining the conference in football only, while remaining in the MWC in all other sports and Houston, SMU and Central Florida (out of Conference USA) were joining in all sports to replace departing members Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia.

Dory LeBlanc, covers Gator sports for Gators First and BourbonMeyer.com. Not just a college sports enthusiast, Dory is also a fan of NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. Born outside Philly, she moved to Tampa, and now resides in Illinois, giving her a broad perspective on the sporting world. You can follow Dory on twitter @DoryLeBlanc