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Las Vegas Bowl Preview: No. 10 Boise State Vs. No. 20 Utah

Next Game

Utah Utes
@ Boise St. Broncos

Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010, 5:00 PM PST
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas - Sam Boyd Stadium - Las Vegas, NV


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Utah's final game as a Mountain West foe is up against future Mountain West member Boise State. Boise State was so close to going to their third ever BCS bowl game, but their kicker missed two gimmes to win the game. However, Nevada was able to capitalize on the misses and win the game. As for the Utes, they were proven to be not worthy of their fifth ranking as they went onto finish the season getting smoked by TCU and unranked Notre Dame, and then sneaking past San Diego State and BYU.

That is how the two teams got to where they are today. Both teams really dislike each other, and the Boise fans have more dislike toward Utah because they smoked Utah back in 2006 and because Utah bought out Boise State to make room for BYU on the schedule.

The first item that jumped out at me about this game is that both teams are coached very well and when given time to prepare for big games nearly always win. That factor has me intrigued since Utah is a 16 point underdog to Boise. That being said it will be tough for Utah to hand around with Boise State. Before getting into matchups and the players the one item that contradicts my earlier statement is that Boise State lost their last three non-BCS bowl games.

Boise State is one of the more balanced teams in the country and are dominate on both sides of the ball. They shut down Hawai'is passing game which is first in the country. Utah's offense was explosive in the first half of the season, but that was against bad teams like UNLV, New Mexico and Colorado State. With quarterback Terrance Cain starting since Jordan Wynn is out with a bum shoulder, Utah will need to establish a run game with Matt Asiata, Eddie Wide and the occasional end around with Shaky Smithson. By setting up the running that will help Terrance Cain in the passing game.

Cain played in nine games this and played in two full games early in the year when Wynn was out with a thumb injury. During those two games Cain started he was the most efficient passer in the nation. Cain is a more conservative passer -- where he locked into receivers and threw to slant routes -- which is why he was benched last year over Jordan Wynn. Cain will need to pick his spots when throwing against the Boise defense, but the advantage that Cain brings to the game is that he is a mobile quarterback which is what hurt Boise against Nevada.

The Utah defense must get pressure on quarterback Kellen Moore, because if he is given too much time he will pick apart an already questionable Utah secondary. Utah plays manly man-to-man defense and with Boise's receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis and the laser precision of Kellen Moore is a dangerous opposition, and look for Boise State to test the secondary down field. The Utah defensive line goes at least 12 players deep and that depth is something Utah will need to utilize to try to disrupt the Boise passing attack.

The main key for Utah to win is to get the ball to Shaky Smithson. Smithson is an extraordinary return man who led the nation in returning punts with an average of 19.72 yards per game and scored two touchdowns. He also averaged 24 yards per kick return as well, in addition to that he has thrown for a touchdown and he is a threat at wide receiver.

Boise State is the more complete team and has had the better season, so for Utah to win they will have to play a perfect game to be able to hang with and perhaps more then that to beat Boise State.

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