The Las Vegas Bowl could come down to one man’s performance as Boise State and Oregon face off in the annual Sin City spectacular on Dec. 16. Quarterback Justin Herbert will look to lead the Ducks to victory in their first Las Vegas Bowl appearance since 2006. Oregon averaged an absurd 52.1 points in the seven games Herbert played this year, and just 15 points in the five games he missed due to injury. Oregon is garnering as much attention for who won’t be at the game as it is for who will be. Head coach Willie Taggart, who turned the Ducks’ fortunes around after doing the same in four years at South Florida, will forego his duties after accepting the lead job at Florida State. Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Mario Cristobal will lead the Ducks in Las Vegas. The Broncos had a more high-profile bowl appearance in mind heading down the stretch, but a 28-17 loss to Fresno State in their pre-championship meeting put the brakes on that. Boise State did well to bounce back with a 17-14 victory in the Mountain West title game, and will look for a similar result Dec. 16 after finishing in the top 40 nationally in both scoring offense (32.1) and scoring defense (22.5 allowed).
The Broncos could be without one of their top offensive weapons at Sam Boyd Stadium, with running back Alexander Mattison considered questionable after he suffered an ankle injury in the title game victory over Fresno State. Mattison, who racked up 1,074 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, left the game in the third quarter and was spotted the next day in a walking boot. That said, the Broncos’ offense is in good hands even if Mattison is out, with Boise State quarterbacks combining for 24 TDs against five interceptions while completing 63.5 percent of their attempts.
While Herbert will be the obvious focus for the Boise State defense, the Broncos can’t afford to ignore standout running back Royce Freeman. The electrifying senior bulldozed his way to 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, and finished 2017 with six consecutive 100-yard rushing performances. Freeman has a more-than-capable sidekick in the backfield, as well, with Kani Benoit adding 573 yards on the ground and 10 scores despite seeing just 80 carries this season; Benoit erupted for 122 yards and a TD in the Ducks’ season-ending 69-10 obliteration of Oregon State.
Las Vegas Bowl Prediction: Oregon 38, Boise State 27 ( Latest College Football Bowl Game Odds and public action from some of the top Vegas and offshore sportsbooks odds updated in real time)
Oregon vs Boise State Predictions and Odds (Las Vegas Bowl – December 16)