Showdown in the Valley

Unless you’re a BYU fan, this year’s Maaco Bowl Las Vegas matchup couldn’t be any better.

The Dec. 22 showdown between Boise State and Utah at Sam Boyd Stadium is a clash of two teams ranked in the Top 10 most of this season. Boise State was ranked No. 3 before its 34-31 overtime loss at Nevada on Nov. 26, knocking the Broncos (11-1) from any Bowl Championship Series consideration. Utah (10-2) rose to No. 5 in the BCS before losses to TCU and Notre Dame dropped it toward the bottom of the Top 25.

After five straight appearances by BYU in the Vegas bowl, this year’s pairing is the strongest matchup in the 19-year history of the game, with it being ranked the seventh-best bowl out of 35 by both ESPN’s and Sports Illustrated’s websites.

Quarterback Kellen Moore, who finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting, leads Boise State. The Broncos are 17-point favorites over the Utes, who will be without injured starting quarterback Jordan Wynn.

Besides the game itself, the bowl brings a variety of events to town leading up to kickoff. Among the events open to the public are a kickoff luncheon at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority at noon Dec. 21, and a pep rally at the Fremont Street Experience, 6-7 p.m. Dec. 21.

The Maaco Bowl Las Vegas will be broadcast on ESPN, which is sending its top announcing team of play-by-play man Brent Musburger and analyst Kirk Herbstreit to call the game, with reporter Tom Rinaldi handling sideline duties. The same crew also will work the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 10.

The 5 p.m. game is nearly sold out, but remaining tickets can be purchased at, or the Thomas & Mack Center box office.

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