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For the college football betting fans of the mid major programs, this is the big time bowl bash for you! The Las Vegas Bowl features two of the best teams from across the country, both of which happen to play in smaller conferences. Though both will be upgrading in recent years into better leagues, they're both still crying for more respect. However, both the Boise State Broncos and Utah Utes can't be winners on Wednesday night in Sin City. This is a hefty set of bowl odds facing the men from the Smurf Turf in this one, and we have all of the Las Vegas bowl news and notes that you need to know before making your Las Vegas Bowl picks on the game for Wednesday night!
Las Vegas Bowl Matchup: Utah Utes vs. Boise State Broncos
Date: Wednesday, December 22nd, 8:00 ET
Location: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Bowl Line: Boise State -17
Utes Notes: Utah was having a fantastic season and was ranked in the Top 10 in the country this year before falling victim to the TCU Horned Frogs at home in a loss that really seemed to take all of the wind out of their sails. They lost the very next game to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and were removed from having any chance of going to the BCS. This is perhaps the luckiest draw for any of the 70 bowl teams this year, as Utah still gets a chance to play a premier team in a big time, standalone bowl spot. The problem that the Utes have on Wednesday is that QB Jordan Wynn is going to be sitting out with a should injury that he suffered in the Holy War against the BYU Cougars in the regular season finale. Backup QB Terrance Cain, who was a starting quarterback for this team as a youngster, came in and went just 2-for-7 for eight yards with two picks, but he was responsible for claiming the 'W' in the game. Cain knows what he is doing both as a starter and a backup though, and he played well when Wynn was injured earlier in the season, throwing for six scores and no INTs in big time wins against lesser opponents from the Mountain West. The running game is going to be key to keep the Boise State offense off of the field. RBs Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide both put up subpar numbers this year, but when combined, they did roll for over 1,300 yards. This defense is also going to have to force some stops against one of the most feared offenses in the country. The Utes ranked No. 22 in the land in total 'D' at 319.7 yards per game and averaged 19.8 points per game allowed to boot. However, these numbers are down tremendously in the second half of the season. From October 30th through the end of the year, Utah allowed a stunning 29.6 points per game, something that Head Coach Kyle Whittingham really needs to make sure improves for the Las Vegas Bowl.
Broncos Notes: It was supposed to be a banner season for Boise State this year, but after losing ground for most of the regular season thanks to a lousy schedule and a devastating overtime loss to the Nevada Wolf Pack, its BCS dreams were shattered to bits and pieces. The argument absolutely could be made that the Broncos were hosed by the BCS, as their one loss came against a one loss Top 20 team on the road, as opposed to the Arkansas Razorbacks, who lost twice, including once at home to a three loss team. There is a big question whether Head Coach Chris Petersen really has his boys ready to go in this one, though there were clearly no ill effects the week after the Nevada loss. The Broncos came back and rolled over the Utah State Aggies in the home finale 50-14 the very next week. Though these numbers are really courtesy of this weak schedule, the Broncos ranked No. 4 in the land both in total offense (521.4 yards per game) and total defense (264.1 yards per game). Outscoring any combination of 12 foes by 33.1 points per game is impressive as well. QB Kellen Moore is going to fall short of 4,000 yards this year, as he has 3,506 yards and 33 TDs against five picks this year, but this is going to be a crucial game in his Heisman Trophy campaign for next season. Moore is going to be one of the big time favorites to capture the Heisman in 2011, and he can make a big time statement in this game, his last with a number of the heroes for the Broncos over the years. RB Doug Martin, RB Jeremy Avery, WR Titus Young, and WR Austin Pettis all had at least nine trips to the end zone this year, and these four men combined for 240 points between them, more than a ton of teams in the country scored over the course of the year.
The Final Word: Don't be all that surprised if the Utes hang in this game for a long, long time. There is no doubt in our minds that the Broncos are the superior team in this game. If they want to, they can win this one by 30. However, we really aren't so sure that they have any care to be here in Sin City. The Utes are going to embrace this underdog roll, and the longer they can stick around in this one, the more the crowd is going to get on their side as well. Boise State will probably pull out the win, but Utah is doing to beat the Las Vegas Bowl spread in this one.
Las Vegas Bowl Free Pick: Utah +17
Las Vegas Bowl Prediction: Boise State 34 – Utah 28