NO. 22 BOISE STATE (1-0)
AT WASHINGTON (1-0)
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Husky Stadium
Television: FSN. Radio: 950-AM.
The series: First meeting.
What to watch: Both teams rolled to one-sided victories in their openers, but both step up in class this week. That's especially true for Washington's freshman cornerback Vonzell McDowell Jr., who never saw anything like the BSU passing game at Syracuse, let alone Rainier Beach High. Similarly, the Washington defense that managed seven sacks in the opener will face a tougher challenge against a Broncos' offensive line, which is led by All-America tackle Ryan Clady. Unlike Syracuse, BSU's corners like to bump at the line, which offers pressure and possibility for the UW receivers. For all of Boise's razzle-dazzle reputation, their true mentality is to run first, UW must control BSU tailback Ian Johnson.
What's at stake: Washington hasn't gotten off to a 2-0 start since the Holiday Bowl season of 2001. And with something close to a sellout crowd expected, they'd like to impress those fans who have drifted away in recent years. Meanwhile, one BSU streak must end: the Broncos have a nation-high 14-game winning streak overall, but they have lost 12 straight when visiting schools from the BCS conferences. The Broncos know their hopes of climbing in the national rankings and returning to a second BCS bowl can't withstand a loss today.
The pick: UW, 37-35. The Washington front seven will get a real test, because the Boise offensive line is experenced and talents. The Washington secondary will too, because this passing game is so much more advanced that Syracuse. And Jake Locker will face a tougher test because the Broncos defense play more man, which will demand more precise and difficult throws. Whoever wins two of those three battles wins the game. I'm thinking Husky Stadium could make the difference.