The Washington Huskies will open the newly renovated Husky Stadium on Saturday night when they host the Boise State Broncos. Washington is entering what many assume is the make-or-break season for the Steve Sarkisian era, and he can put a major feather in his cap by guiding the Huskies to a win over the Broncos. That may prove difficult though, as Boise has made a reputation on being great at big game season openers.
Boise, meanwhile, is coming into 2013 with relatively little buzz following a double digit win 2012. A win over Washington probably won't move the needle like some of their previous early season wins, but it would help get them back in the national consciousness a little bit. Head coach Chris Petersen definitely does not care about that, but well, he's not paid to.
Rankings and records: These two programs have only played twice, but both meetings have come after 2007. Each team has a win, and the Broncos won the last meeting 28-26 in the Las Vegas Bowl last December. Boise State is ranked 19th in both the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Poll entering this season, and Washington is unranked.
Vegas: The Huskies are three and a half-point favorites at home, according to oddsshark.com. The over/under is 52.5.
Weather: Sunny and mid-70s.
Three names to know
Bishop Sankey. The Huskies will be without their two top pass catchers from last year, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Kasen Williams, due to offseason indiscressions. With passing options for Keith Price limited, the solidly built 5'10, 203 pound running back will have to carry the Washington offense. He's capable of doing just that, too, as he ran for 1,439 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2012.
Joe Southwick. It was going to be hard to replace Kellen Moore no matter what, but the feeling about Joe Southwick following his debut season in 2012 was pretty "meh." He completed over two-thirds of his passes, but his productions totals of 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions looks rather paltry compared to Moore's 43 and nine from 2011. Southwick has the chance to step out of Moore's shadow this year, and a big debut against the Huskies would go a long way towards the him being seen as Joe Southwick: Quarterback, not Joe Southwick: Kellen Moore's Replacement.
Matt Miller. Miller is Southwick's best receiving threat. He caught 66 passes for 769 yards last year, which are both career highs, but he caught four less touchdowns in 2012 (5) than he did in 2011 (9). He'll have a chance to get off to a big start, but he'll be going against a pretty decent Washington defense that will be keyed in on him. If Miller can get loose for a couple touchdowns, then Boise has a great chance of going home with the win.
Two things at stake
Sark's last chance. Steve Sarkisian came to Washington and had to rebuild a program that had hit bottom. He's gotten them back to respectability, but there's starting to be loud grumbling that he may not be the guy to take the program to the next level. Three straight 7-6 seasons will do that. A repeat performance in 2013 will probably not be sufficient for Sark to hold onto his job, so a big early season win would go a long way towards turning down the flames licking at his seat.
Boise's early season cred. One of the biggest calling cards to the highly ranked Boise State teams of recent years was the annual marquee out of conference game in week one. The Broncos have claimed the scalps of Oregon, Georgia, and Virginia Tech, but they stumbled against Michigan State last year. Even if the Broncos go on to have a great year, if they fail to convert against Washington, the shine could start to come off a little bit.
How to witness
TV: This game will be shown live nationally at 10 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1
Radio: Washington radio affiliates - Boise State: KBOI-AM 670
Online streaming: Fox Sports will be offering some sort of streaming option, but their plans have not been fully defined yet.
For more on the Broncos, check out One Bronco Nation Under God.
For more on the Huskes, head over to UW Dawg Pound.