Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Utah
By Paul Myerberg // Dec 21, 2010
Is the Pac-10 ready for Utah? Better yet, is Utah ready for the Pac-10? It depends where we stand — or stood — on the calendar. This past September or October? At the point, I felt that Utah could have played with any team in the country: 8-0, the Utes sneaked past Pittsburgh, demolished Iowa State and beat Air Force before turning towards November. The final month wasn’t kind: 2-2, with ugly losses to T.C.U. and Notre Dame followed up by narrow wins over B.Y.U. and San Diego State. Which team shows up in 2011? That’s not such a tough question — despite the poor finish, anyone banking on Utah finishing in the second division of the Pac-10 should think twice.
Boise State (11-1, 7-1)
Regular season in review Only in this new age of Boise State football could a one-loss regular season be seen as a slight disappointment. That one loss — if you stayed awake — came at Nevada, a back-and-forth, one-for-the-ages loss that came about only because of a pair of special teams gaffes from kicker Kyle Brotzman. Outside of that game, only Virginia Tech sniffed Boise State all season; in hindsight, perhaps the fact that the Broncos could rest their starters for the second half of most games until heading to Nevada took a toll on the starters, still on the field into overtime. If that’s the biggest problem a team has, you know it’s been a successful season. Par for the course, more of the same, nothing to see here, move along: the Broncos rolled out of bed and went 11-1. The future holds a transition to the Mountain West, where Boise State is sure to be tested more than it was in the WAC. What else does the future hold? Something like 11-1, 12-0 — somewhere in that area.
Regular season high point The win over Virginia Tech to start the regular season. Those who thought less of that win following Virginia Tech’s loss to James Madison stood corrected after the Hokies ran roughshod through A.C.C. play. There was nothing wrong with the ensuing 10 wins, of course, though the detractors continue to come out of the woodwork with each Boise State win.
Regular season low point The loss to Nevada. The silver lining: perhaps a still-stacked Boise State team in 2011 will learn from the difficult experience.
Regular season offensive M.V.P. Quarterback Kellen Moore. Expecting someone else? Instead of recounting Moore’s superb season, a few other options in this spot: running back Doug Martin, who rushed for 1,113 yards and 11 scores; wide receiver Titus Young, Moore’s favorite target; and left guard Nate Potter, who has earned first-team all-WAC honors at both that position and left tackle over the past two seasons.
Regular season defensive M.V.P. Defensive end Ryan Winterswyk. It’s not all about numbers for the senior: while he led all Boise State defensive linemen with 41 tackles (7 for loss), Winterswyk’s impact goes beyond his statistical impact.
Utah (10-2, 7-1)
Regular season in review There was just no stopping T.C.U. in 2010, though that’s of little solace for a Utah team eying one final M.W.C. title before taking flight to the Pac-10. Not that there was any excuse for such a sloppy performance at home: after being embarrassed at T.C.U. in 2009, it was thought that Utah would put forth a better effort against the Horned Frogs. Not quite. That loss preceded another embarrassing defeat, this one by 28-3 at Notre Dame, giving the program back-to-back losses for the first since time since opening the 2007 season 0-2. The big question: is this Utah team really that good? Well, yes, of course. Yet even the most ardent fan must admit that the Utes feasted on inferior opposition to get to 8-0, beating only two teams that finished 2010 with winning records. Those November struggles, on the other hand, saw Utah scuffle for the first time in several years.
Regular season high point Wins over San Diego State and B.Y.U. to end the season. The former win, a 38-34 decision in San Diego, clinched the second spot in the Mountain West. The win over B.Y.U., as always, meant the world to Utah and its fans.
Regular season low point The answer is T.C.U., but the loss to Notre Dame was equally dreadful. Over a two-week span, an offense that had averaged 38.9 points over its first nine games accounted for all of 10 points.
Regular season offensive M.V.P. Wide receiver DeVonte Christopher. This season provided vindication to yours truly, who has plugged Christopher, a star quarterback in high school in Nevada, heading into each of the last two seasons. He embraced the opportunity for playing time in 2010, putting forth a big performance in the win over Pittsburgh and providing big-play ability throughout the season. Christopher trailed off in November — like his team — but he was Utah’s best weapon in the passing game.
Regular season defensive M.V.P. Linebacker Chaz Walker. He paced Utah in tackles (103, 7 for loss) while adding a pair of sacks and an interception. Not bad for a former walk-on in his first season in the starting lineup.
Know Your Sponsor
Maaco Don’t confuse Maaco, the auto repair chain, with AAMCO, the transmission chain, though each were founded by Anthony A. Matino of King of Prussia, Pa. How do I tell the two apart? For starters, I always tell myself, “Paul, AAMCO is the chain with an estimated $250 million in revenue, while Maaco is the chain with merely $53 million in revenue.” Another way? I try to recall each chain’s radio jingle: for Maaco, it’s “Uh oh, better get Maaco!”; for AAMCO, it’s “Double A (honk, honk), M-C-O.”
You can also follow Paul Myerberg and Pre-Snap Read on Twitter.
Tags: Boise State, Chaz Walker, DeVonte Christopher, Kellen Moore, Las Vegas Bowl, Ryan Winterswyk, Utah
Leave a Comment