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Boise State, Washington coming to town for 2012 MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

Broncos have a chance to become first team to win three straight Las Vegas Bowls

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Sam Morris

Boise State safety Cedric Febis hugs fellow safety Travis Stanaway after Stanaway recovered a fumble and ran it in for a touchdown against Arizona State during the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Boise State won the game 56-24.

Updated Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 | 5:55 p.m.

2011 Maaco Bowl Las Vegas

Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore hoists the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas trophy after the Broncos defeated Arizona State 56-24 Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Launch slideshow »

The Boise State football program might start considering Sam Boyd Stadium a second home.

The Broncos are poised to make their fourth trip to the venue in the past three years to play in their third straight MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Boise State will face Washington in the 2012 edition of the annual bowl game, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 22.

The pairing emerged as the bowl picture panned out Sunday afternoon. Officials later confirmed the matchup.

“This is another great matchup of two of the top programs in the West,” Dan Hanneke, bowl director, said. “Boise State has been a wonderful partner with Las Vegas the last two years and will bring in another fantastic record and national ranking to go with its Mountain West co-championship."

An identical scenario to the past two years once again placed Boise State in Las Vegas. After a 10-2 season in which it won a share of the Mountain West Conference championship, Boise State narrowly missed receiving an invite to a BCS bowl by finishing three spots short at No. 19 in the final rankings.

That left the Broncos available for MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, which owns the first choice of eligible Mountain West teams. The combination of Boise State’s national profile and the way its fans have traveled the past two years made the Broncos an attractive choice.

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas gets the fifth choice in the Pac-12. Washington, which went 7-5 to reach bowl eligibility for the third straight year, was an easy selection.

It’s the first time the Huskies have ever participated in the Las Vegas Bowl. They had an up-and-down season, culminating with a disappointing 31-28 loss to Washington State, which was previously winless in conference play, in the Apple Cup rivalry game.

The defeat snapped a four-game win streak. The high point of Washington’s season came when it defeated Pac-12 champion Stanford 17-14 at home.

“We were the one team in the conference that beat them, and the only other team in the country that beat Stanford is Notre Dame, who's playing for the national championship, and that came down to an inch, and possibly a bad call," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian told the Seattle Times. "So, I think we're aware of what we're capable of ... when you beat the conference champ and you're the only team to say that you can, that's a standard that we can play to, and now consistently we need to be able to play to that level."

Few teams can claim consistency like Boise State, which has won at least 10 games in each of coach Chris Petersen’s six seasons. The Broncos 2012 season was particularly impressive as they lost the bulk of last year’s team to graduation, including the past two MAACO Bowl Las Vegas MVPs: quarterback Kellen Moore and running back Doug Martin.

Boise State capped its season Saturday by defeating UNR 27-21 on the road.

“Kind of what we set out to do all season — make it a grind,” Boise State running back D.J. Harper told the Idaho Statesman. “We knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. We weren’t always going to score 50-60 points. But we grinded it out, had a successful season, and I’m proud of these guys.”

Boise State demolished Arizona State 56-24 in last year’s MAACO Bowl Las Vegas after nearly shutting out Utah, 26-3, in 2010.

Boise State and Washington will also open the 2013 season against each other with a meeting at Husky Stadium in Seattle.

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

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