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Boise State holds nothing back, beats Utah 26-3 in MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

Broncos defense holds Utes to less than 200 yards of total offense

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Justin M. Bowen

Billy Winn of Boise State holds up the trophy after his team defeated Utah 26-3 in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas Wednesday, December 22, 2010.

Updated Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 | 8:27 p.m.

Maaco Bowl Las Vegas

Boise State fans celebrate after their team beat Utah 26-3 to win the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Boise State wins 2010 MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

Boise State put on its usual show of football dominance Wednesday night at Sam Boyd Stadium in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.

Much like they have all season, the Broncos blew out their opponent and left little in doubt. Boise State 26, Utah 3.

Quarterback Kellen Moore, who finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting, went 28-for-38 for 339 yards and one touchdown. His favorite target was senior Austin Pettis, who caught 12 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown.

Junior running back Doug Martin had 17 carries for 147 yards and a touchdown. The real star for the Broncos might have been the defense.

Utah looked lost on offense, finishing the night with less than 200 total yards. On the other hand, Boise State had nearly 550 yards.

The defeat means Utah's nation-high bowl winning streak ends at nine games. The Utes hadn't lost a bowl game since 1996 and finishes the season with a 10-3 record.

Although Boise State (12-1) had higher aspirations than a Las Vegas Bowl championship this season, they made the most of the situation and didn't allow their BCS near-miss affect their preparation. They also shook off a slow start where Utah took a 3-0 lead.

Check back to lasvegassun.com for full coverage of the game including stories and photos.

Boise State leads 23-3, 11 minutes left in the game

Utah squandered its best opportunity to get into the end zone so far.

The Utes kicked off a drive after blocking a Boise State field goal and quickly got down to the 11-yard line after a pass interference penalty. But the Utes stalled from there and brought out kicker Joe Phillips, who missed a short field goal. It was his second missed field goal of the day.

Utah appeared to score on the drive when Jereme Brooks caught a bomb from Terrance Cain in the end zone. But a holding call wiped away the touchdown. Cain still has found no rhythm and has gone only 8-for-19 for 85 yards on the night. The Utah running game hasn't done much easier, as the ball carriers have combined for 25 carries and 90 yards.

Boise State leads 23-3, eight minutes remaining in the third quarter

Boise State is running away from Utah in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.

Austin Pettis caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Moore to give Boise State a 20-3 advantage early in the third quarter. Truth be told, the score could be much worse.

Pettis was about to go into the end zone a few minutes before, but lost the ball and it went out of the end zone for a touchback. Utah wasn't able to do anything with their good fortune, losing yards before eventually punting.

The Utes had the ball first out of halftime, but Shaky Smithson lost a fumble around midfield after catching a pass for a first down. Boise State has out-gained Utah by nearly 300 yards and has dominated since the first half.

Pettis has nine catches for 120 yards. Moore had a rough start, losing a fumble on the first possession, but has flirted with perfection since. Moore is 22-for-29 for 260 yards and two touchdowns.

Boise State takes 16-3 lead into locker room

The Utah defense stood strong against the vaunted Boise State offense in the first quarter.

The second quarter was a different story. The Utes allowed two touchdowns and a field goal and trail the Broncos 16-3.

Boise State drove down inside the Utah 15-yard line with three minutes left, but settled for a field goal. No matter, the Broncos had their chance for a touchdown shortly after. Boise State got the ball back with a minute remaining and promptly drove 54 yards in 36 seconds. Tyler Shoemaker caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Moore on the third play of the drive.

The Broncos lined up quickly and tried for a tricky two-point conversion, but failed. At halftime, Moore is 17-for-23 for 151 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Doug Martin has seven rushes for 96 yards and as a team, Boise State is averaging more than seven yards per rush.

The Utah offense failed to make a first down in the second quarter. Backup quarterback Terrance Cain, starting for the injured Jordan Wynn, has struggled mightily at 3-for-11 with 26 yards. In his defense, the Utah receivers have dropped a number of passes that could have changed the halftime score of this game.

Boise State leads 7-3, seven minutes remaining in the second quarter

In a flash, the sold out crowd at Sam Boyd Stadium just saw why the Boise State offense is so dangerous.

On the first play of a drive, Boise State running back Doug Martin ran for an 84-yard touchdown on a simple dive play. It was the longest play in Las Vegas Bowl history. Boise State leads 7-3 midway through the second quarter.

The Broncos offense has moved the ball well, but kept dooming itself with mistakes before reaching the end zone. Through a quarter and a half of play, Boise State already has three turnovers.

The latest came after Kyle Efaw converted a fourth down for Boise State after a pass from Kellen Moore, but fumbled the ball as he tried to fight for extra yardage. It was the second lost fumble of the evening for the Broncos. Their other turnover came when Utah's Chaz Walker picked off a pass from Moore.

Utah leads 3-0, end of first quarter

So far, the play at Sam Boyd Stadium has looked more like a blooper tape than a bowl game.

The Broncos and the Utes haven't looked much like two of the best teams in the country and have traded in highlights for lowlights. Utah has capitalized on the sloppy beginning and leads 3-0 after a 44-yard field goal from Joe Phillips.

It would be no surprise, however, if Utah fans were thinking about what could have been. The Utes have already dropped two sure touchdown passes from Terrance Cain — Shaky Smithson and Jereme Brooks were the receivers who couldn't hold on — and had one other long pass called back for a penalty.

Boise State ran one of the plays the program is known for on a recent fourth down. The Broncos executed a perfect fake punt, but kicker Kyle Brotzman dropped the wide open pass leading to a turnover on downs.

7:00 remaining, first quarter, 0-0

There's already been fireworks at the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas — just not during the game.

Through seven minutes, neither team has scored but the Broncos and the Utes got into another shoving match before the game began at about the 20-yard line when both teams ran out on the field. They have also often exchanged words after plays.

It's clear these two teams don't like each other, but it might be time to put that behind them and focus on the game. The Broncos and Utes have both had error-filled starts to the bowl game. Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore fumbled on the team's first possession and set Utah up with great field position.

But Utah kicker Joe Phillips missed a 39-yard field goal to keep the game scoreless. On their second drive, Utes quarterback Terrance Cain found receiver Jereme Brooks for a long pass down to the 5-yard line. Officials called the play back because Brooks was not lined up properly and was an ineligible receiver. Utah fumbled two plays later and Boise State has taken over around their own 40-yard line.

Pregame

Say this much for the 2010 MAACO Bowl Las Vegas — ‘boring’ would not be one of the words to describe the lead-up to the game.

No. 10 Boise State and No. 20 Utah are clearly fired up to validate their season in the first bowl matchup between ranked teams all year. Of course, the two teams got into a small skirmish Sunday at the game’s welcome reception and then Utah receiver DeVonte Christopher tweeted a little trash talk.

But coaches and players downplayed both incidents and said it was not truly how the teams felt about each other.

No more time to pretend. With kickoff a mere 30 minutes away, the Broncos and the Utes can finally go at each other as hard as they want.

The rain has let up and the teams will seemingly stay dry until kickoff. If that benefits either team, it’s probably Boise State.

The Broncos have the No. 6 passing offense in the country behind Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Kellen Moore. The rain could have altered their attack, but that shouldn’t be a factor anymore.

Look for Utah to try to control the ball and clock on offense regardless. Behind backup quarterback Terrance Cain, the Utes will likely throw in some option looks in an attempt to catch Boise State off guard.

A steady dose of Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata running the ball is also expected for the Utes. Although Utah’s offense hasn’t been overly impressive this season, it serves as one of the better ones Boise State has faced.

The Broncos are sixth in the nation in total defense, but gave up more than 30 points in their only two games against ranked opponents this season.

A couple players to watch for on Boise State’s defense include senior defensive back Winston Venerable and junior defensive lineman and local product Billy Winn.

That brings us to prediction time.

I’ll say Utah keeps it close for the first half and maybe even leads at halftime, but Boise State ultimately prevails 35-24. The Broncos are just too talented.

As for my colleague Ray Brewer — who refers to himself as the consummate underdog — he’s going with Utah 22, Boise State 19.

Stick to lasvegassun.com for updates throughout the game.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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