Three reasons why you should watch the Las Vegas Bowl, why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.
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Las Vegas Bowl
Oregon (7-5) vs. Boise State (10-3)
Date: Saturday, Dec. 16
Game Time: 3:30 pm
Venue: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
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The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness
(1 best-39 worst): 10 out of 39
Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Las Vegas Bowl
– Nothing stops. Oregon players wanted Mario Cristobal to be the head coach, and they got him. Cristobal goes from being a top assistant to the full-time gig, and unlike now-FSU head coach Willie Taggart, he actually has won a bowl game, doing it when he was the FIU head man. With the time off to get everyone healed up and ready to go – especially giving QB Justin Herbert a bit more time off – the Ducks should come into the game fired up.
– The Group of Five really, really needs this. Of course, the spotlight will be on UCF against Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Peach, but there are just seven matchups between Power Five and Group of Five programs, and this might be the second-most important of the bunch. At worst, this is third behind Texas Tech vs. USF in the Birmingham, but the pressure is on the Broncos, especially after winning this bowl three years in a row from 2010 to 2012.
Boise State is the Mountain West champion, and it gets a shot to make a big national splash. After losing to Virginia earlier this year, and after getting rocked by Baylor in a 31-12 loss in last year’s Cactus Bowl, the Broncos really, really need this, too.
– Cristobal really, really needs this. Yeah, nothing stops, and the machine should keep on rolling – in theory. Cristobal was hardly a controversial hire, but he also wasn’t the sure-thing home run that many Oregon fans might have wanted. The outcome of this bowl game won’t portend things to come, or be a guarantee of future success, however, there’s a ton of pressure on the new guy.
Win, and that’s one amazing selling point on the recruiting trail – these players not only went to bat for him, but they came through. Lose, and the next eight months will bring a whole lot of questions depending on how this plays out.
In last year’s Las Vegas Bowl, Major Applewhite was supposed to make this a seamless transition at Houston from the Tom Herman era. San Diego State won 34-10.
Here’s Why Boise State Will Win The Las Vegas Bowl
– Oregon has a passing game, but it’s this simple; can Boise State stop the run? The short answer? Sort of, but yes. 20th in the nation in run defense, this group is tough enough with time to prepare for what the Oregon offense brings, but there aren’t enough plays made in the backfield on a regular basis to stop the machine cold.
Colorado State ran for 261 yards and five scores, but San Diego State was stuffed for just 83 yards and no one other than the Rams averaged more than five yards per carry.
– There are penalty issues. and then there’s Oregon. Dead last in the nation in total penalties and yards, the Ducks get flagged over nine times per game for an average of 112 yards per pop. They’ve been hit with ten or more penalties seven times. Boise State isn’t great, but it’s only nailed around six times per game.
– It’s Brett Rypien’s time. The Broncos have folded in Montell Cozart into the mix from time to time – the former Kansas Jayhawk has thrown ten touchdown passes and one pick, while adding some rushing element to the position – but Rypien is the cool veteran who has been through the wars.
Accurate, he hit 70% of his passes in four of his last five games before the MW title game, with a stretch of 12 touchdown passes in the four games leading up to the Fresno State back-to-backers. The key? One pick in his last eight games. He won’t make the big mistake.
Here’s Why Oregon Will Win The Las Vegas Bowl
– Shhhhhh. Justin Herbert just might be as good as any QB in the Pac-12. One of the key things Taggart considered in the decision-making process was QB Justin Herbert – part of him, apparently, wanted to work with the rising superstar.
The 6-6, 225-pound sophomore missed a five-game stretch hurt, but when he came back … boom. The offense exploded against Arizona and Oregon State. He threw for 235 yards or more in all seven games he was healthy for, and hit 7-of-8 throws against Cal before being knocked out.
– Can Alexander Mattison go? Boise State’s 1,074-yard, 12-score rusher has an injured leg, but he’s questionable at best, and should be a game time decision. Bronco backup Ryan Wolpin filled in against Fresno State in the Mountain West title game and ran for 50 yards and a score, but he’s not Mattison. Boise State’s top running back will probably be out, but …
– Oregon should be fine without Royce. Maybe. 1,475-yard, 16 touchdown back Royce Freeman is choosing to skip the bowl to keep himself healthy for the NFL circuit. Smart move, but it leaves Oregon hanging a bit, unless Kani Benoit and Tony Brooks-James can step up.
Benoit ran for 122 yard and a score against Oregon State, and Brooks-James took off for two 100yard games in the final four dates. The Duck O will keep rolling.
You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The Las Vegas Bowl
– Watch out for the Ducks to play like they were shot out of a cannon. Cristobal is a master motivator as well as a brilliant line coach. If Boise State isn’t getting into the backfield early on, Oregon’s running game and offense should roll early on. It’ll be up to Boise State to weather the storm and let the emotion die down.
– It would really, really help the Broncos if they could come out with a long, grinding scoring drive. Oregon doesn’t go at warp-speed like it did in the Mark Helfrich days, but time of possession doesn’t necessarily matter. Boise State can take control of this game immediately if it controls the clock and slows things down.
– This is being played at almost the perfect time. It’s early enough after the season to keep everyone in a decent rhythm, and there’s been just enough time off to heal up a bit. It’ll be just two weeks since Boise State played in the Mountain West title game, and three weeks for Oregon. More importantly for this game, Oregon is getting a solid two weeks to deal with the coaching change without much of a disruption.
Super. So Who’s Going To Win The Las Vegas Bowl?
Who should benefit the most from the time off to prepare? Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt is expected to take the same job with Taggart at Florida State, but first, he’s coaching through the bowl game and he should have this group ready to roll.
With Mattison hurting, the Boise State offense should be a bit too one-dimensional.
Rypien is good enough to move the attack, and Cozart will be slipped in to throw a curveball, but the Oregon defense will bring the pressure with enough third down stops to get control of the game early in the second half.
Oregon’s D will be solid, the running game good enough, and Herbert will be great. Cristobal will get his first win as the new head man with a great effort from the Pac-12ers.
Oregon 30, Boise State 24
– More Bowl Info & Get Tickets
Oregon -7.5, o/u: 59.5
ATS Confidence: 1.5
5: Being in the bar already
0: Watching ball drop … and then trying to get into the bar
Must See Rating: 3.5
5: New Year’s Eve: Ministry of Sound, Defected London NYE
0: New Year’s Eve with Maroon 5, Las Vegas
Las Vegas Bowl History, Results
Dec. 17, 2016 San Diego State 34, Houston 10
Dec. 19, 2015 Utah 35 BYU 28
Dec. 20, 2014 Utah 45 Colorado State 10
Dec. 21, 2013 USC 45 Fresno State 20
Dec. 22, 2012 Boise State 28 Washington 26
Dec. 22, 2011 Boise State 56 Arizona State 24
Dec. 22, 2010 Boise State 26 Utah 3
Dec. 22, 2009 BYU 44 Oregon State 20
Dec. 20, 2008 Arizona 31 BYU 21
Dec. 22, 2007 BYU 17 UCLA 16
Dec. 22, 2006 BYU 38 Oregon 8
Dec. 22, 2005 California 35 BYU 28
Dec. 23, 2004 Wyoming 24 UCLA 21
Dec. 24, 2003 Oregon State 55 New Mexico 14
Dec. 25, 2002 UCLA 27 New Mexico 13
Dec. 25, 2001 Utah 10 Southern California 6
Dec. 21, 2000 UNLV 31 Arkansas 14
Dec. 18, 1999 Utah 17 Fresno State 16
Dec. 19, 1998 North Carolina 20 San Diego State 13
Dec. 20, 1997 Oregon 41 Air Force 13
Dec. 18, 1996 Nevada 18 Ball State 15
Dec. 14, 1995 Toledo 40 Nevada 37 (OT)
Dec. 15, 1994 UNLV 52 Central Michigan 24
Dec. 17, 1993 Utah State 42 Ball State 33
Dec. 18, 1992 Bowling Green 35 Nevada 34