Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
Can the Washington Huskies escape Las Vegas with an upset win over Boise State in the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl?
Pirates! Ragin' Cajuns! Huskies! Broncos! The Big Easy! Las Vegas!
Welcome to the second Saturday of the college bowl season. Today, we have two bowls taking place in cities where you can have a lot of fun. And get into a lot of trouble, for that matter. But what happens on Bourbon Street stays on Bourbon Street and what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, amirite?
Today, these cities are all about college football. Your early game is in New Orleans and your afternoon game is in Las Vegas.
The first game of the day is the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl featuring the East Carolina Pirates from Conference USA and the Louisiana-Lafayette Rajin' Cajuns from the Sun Belt. The Worldwide Leader is televising this bad boy at 9:00 am Pacific Time and gives us a preview:
Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) again has a chance at a ninth win after earning three consecutive victories to end the regular season. The Cajuns' only loss in their final five contests was a 27-20 defeat at then-No. 7 Florida on Nov. 10, a game they led with less than two minutes left only to lose on a touchdown off a blocked punt with two seconds to play.
"It's all about these young men and the hard work they've put in," second-year coach Mark Hudspeth said. "I couldn't be more proud of these guys. Our goal is to finish with a 9-4 record for two straight seasons."
They'll have a different starting quarterback for this attempt. Terrance Broadway, a sophomore who transferred from Houston, took over after last year's New Orleans Bowl most valuable player, Blaine Gautier, broke his left hand in a win over Florida International on Sept. 29.
Gautier returned for the final two games but only made brief appearances off the bench. Broadway has 2,526 passing yards and 661 on the ground, leaving him 258 shy of surpassing Gautier's school record for total yards. Gautier's single-season marks for total touchdowns (26), completion percentage (62.8) and passing efficiency (153.6) are also well within Broadway's reach.
"Terrance is leading this team and he's playing at a very high level," Hudspeth said.
Broadway and the Cajuns will next face an East Carolina team that also ended the regular season with a three-game win streak.
That run assured the Pirates (8-4) of returning to the postseason after they finished 5-7 in 2011, ending a streak of five straight years reaching a bowl game.
"All bowl games are exciting to me. Not going to one last year really makes you even more excited," third-year coach Ruffin McNeill said. "We're looking forward to going to New Orleans."
The New Orleans Bowl is an appetizer of sorts. For us Pac-12/West Coast football fan types, the Las Vegas Bowl is the big game of the day. And in this one, perhaps we're torn. It's our conference brother, the Washington Huskies, against the Boise State Broncos. Correct me if I'm wrong, but a lot of you have a little bit of haterade in your glass when it comes to the Huskies. And for some of you, I think that Boise State is not exactly on your list of favorite teams. So this may as well be the Las Vegas Bowl sponsored by Haterade, amirite?
The Worldwide Leader is televising this one as well and gives you a preview:
Boise State and Washington have only met once, but they're about to get a lot more familiar with each other.
The 20th-ranked Broncos face the Huskies in the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas on Saturday, the first of three meetings in as many years.
"I think it can become one of those classic rivalries that get set up," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. "Everybody loves a good rematch, you know? Somebody's going to win and somebody's going to lose this first one. Then we are going to come back nine months later to see who can win the second one."
Washington will open next season at renovated Husky Stadium against the Broncos on Aug. 31, and it travels to Boise in 2015 to complete the home-and-home series.
Boise State (10-2) is quite familiar with Las Vegas, having won the last two MAACO Bowls against Utah and Arizona State by a combined 55 points.
Unlike those Broncos teams, Boise State relied on its defense much more in 2012 to post its seventh straight 10-win season -- the longest active streak in the country.
The Broncos aren't exactly weak on offense, averaging 30.4 points, but that number pales in comparison to the 44.7 they produced over the last two seasons. Boise State was limited to fewer than 21 points four times this year after not being held below that mark in the past two.
Defense has been the key, as the Broncos rank in the top 10 in the FBS with 14.9 points and 304.7 yards allowed per game. The unit is led by first-team All-Mountain West selections Demarcus Lawrence (9 1/2 sacks, 13 1/2 tackles for loss), J.C. Percy (team-high 101 tackles), Jamar Taylor and Mike Atkinson.
So whom are you rooting for? Washington and Pac-12 pride? Or is it "Huck you, Fuskies!" and root for Boise? Are you so torn?
Enjoy the games. This is your open thread with which to do what you wish.