MAACO Bowl Las Vegas Breakdown: Notes and Players to Watch

GOBRONCOSDOTCOM
GOBRONCOSDOTCOM

GOBRONCOSDOTCOM

Game Notes:

SERIES HISTORY: The Broncos lead the all-time series with the Utes 4-2. Since Boise State's last loss - Oct. 31, 1987 (31-27) - the Broncos have won three-straight, two of which coming on the road.

BRONCOS ENTER 37TH-STRAIGHT GAME RANKED IN TOP 20: Boise State has enjoyed its share of time in the national spotlight over the past decade. That attention has grown to new heights over the past two seasons however, as the Broncos enter their 37th-consecutive game ranked in the top 25 when they face Utah, Dec. 22. Boise State, which is currently ranked No. 10 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' Polls, has been ranked in the top 25 since Oct. 1, 2008, when the team faced Louisiana Tech. Of the previous 36 games, Boise State was ranked in the top 20 for all of them.

DOMINANCE ON BOTH SIDES: The Broncos were the only team in the country to finish the regular season ranked in the top five in both total offense (fourth; 519.50) and total defense (fourth; 259.25). The Broncos also ranked second-nationally in scoring offense (46.67) and fourth-nationally in scoring defense (13.58).

RED ZONE DEFENSE: The Boise State defense has allowed just 27 red zone opportunities in 2010, 15 of which were successful. The 56-percent success rate for opponents is the nation's second-best mark.

PRESSURE, PREVENT PRESSURE: The Bronco defense ranks first-nationally in sacks, averaging 3.75 per game. On the other side of the ball the Broncos are allowing just 0.58 per game, the third-fewest in the country.

THREE-AND-OUT: The Boise State defense has been one of the nation's best at keeping opposing offenses off the field, forcing an average of 5.00 three-and-outs per game. The mark ranks fifth-nationally, behind only TCU (6.41), Ohio State (5.75), Nebraska (5.15) and Texas (5.08). Boise State forced 55 three-and-outs during the regular season.

Players to Watch:

Offense

Austin Pettis - Pettis needs just 61 receiving yards to move into second place in Boise State history for career receiving yards. Fellow senior Titus Young already holds the No. 1 spot in school history with 2,999 receiving yards. Pettis, who currently sits fourth with 2,691 yards, will look to pass Don Hutt (2,728) and Ryan Ikebe (2,751) in his final game as a Bronco. Pettis has been pivotal in Boise State's success over the past four seasons while setting school records in career receptions (217) and career receiving touchdowns (38).  

Terrance Cain - Cain will undoubtedly enter Wednesday's game with plenty of confidence boasting a 9-1 record all-time as a starter at Utah. He is coming off a dismal appearance in the Utes' regular season finale against BYU however, in which he was just 2 of 7 for eight yards with a pair of interceptions. Cain has put up very solid numbers on his career, but will need to show his ability to rebound to top form against the Broncos.

Defense

Ryan Winterswyk - Winterswyk has been rock solid for Boise State over the past four seasons and expect nothing short of that in his final game as a Bronco. Despite his numbers being down in tackles for loss and sacks this season, he is just two tackles short of setting a personal best for single season tackles. He currently has 42 tackles (19 solo). Winterswyk is also just two sacks shy of moving into sole possession of third all-time at Boise State in career sacks. He enters the game ranked fifth with 21.5 sacks on his career. Greg Sabala is currently third with 23.0.

Christian Cox - Cox will look to do something most teams were unable to do in 2010; get pressure on Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore. Cox was named first team All-Mountain West Conference this season after recording 50 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks. While the Broncos only allowed seven sacks all season, two came in their 34-31 overtime loss at Nevada.

Special Teams

Kyle Brotzman - The Boise State senior place kicker will look to etch his name in NCAA history, Wednesday (Dec. 22), as he is just two points short of tying the all-time record for career points kicking. Brotzman, who broke the WAC's all-time leading scorer record earlier this season, has scored 431 points. He now trails Art Comody (Louisville) who scored 433 points kicking.

Shaky Smithson - It's no secret that Utah return man Shaky Smithson is a game changer. He currently leads the nation in punt return average (19.7 ypr) and has taken two punt returns back for touchdowns. The best way to slow down Smithson, who was been named to six All-America teams this fall, appears to be not allowing him to touch the football.