It’s always about bigger bowls for Boise State and Chris Petersen, but the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas was where they ended up for a third straight time. For a third straight time, they came out with their hands on the trophy, with often criticized quarterback Joe Southwick coming through in perfect timing.

The big news around campus in the past few weeks wasn’t even the bowl game. Boise State are used to beating the lower tier of Pac-12 opponents every season, and Washington, despite heading in with some impressive defensive displays and a 7-5 record weren’t enough to create too much excitmenet when bigger issues were up for grabs.

The Big East – to go or not go seems to be the question at the moment. What looked like an upgrade a year ago is now a transfer into a crumbling conference, that has nothing to do with Eastern exclusivity, just like Boise State have nothing to do with the East Coast. A mish-mash of colleges that wanted a bigger conference, but weren’t lucrative enough to get a call from the power-conferences, having to settle for something unclear.

All that turmoil didn’t really matter come game time. Southwick began the season with throwing 7 interceptions through his first nine games. Since their loss to San Diego State, it’s changed, and he hasn’t thrown a single one, as Boise State coasted to a shared title of the MWC. Southwick wasn’t explosive in those games, but highly effective. Against the Washington defense, that was supposed to slow him down, he was both accurate and explosive on many moments.

Boise State completed 7-of-13 passes thrown 15 yards or longer, including Chris Potter‘s 34-yard touchdown pass to Holden Huff in the second quarter on a WR throwback pass. The MVP and plenty of the big plays went to Washington’s running back Bishop Sankey who ran for 205 yards and a touchdown. However, the exiting heroes were Southwick, finishing with 264 yards and two touchdowns, and kicker Michael Frisina, scoring the winning field goal (28-26) with 1:16 left on the clock.

That winning kick was set up thanks to Shane Williams-Rhodes, who returned Washington’s kick (after a lead taking field goal) 47 yards to the Huskies’ 42. Southwick led the team forward with three completions and a little help from D.J. Harper on the ground, until reaching the Washington 10 with a 4th an 8. Easy field goal for Frisina, who had a PAT blocked earlier in the game.

All year I knew I could play at this level. It’s just a lot of work, a lot of moving parts to put the puzzle together. The last three games it’s really showed. We’ve just been executing at a high level in the offense. Southwick added 39 yards of rushing and also punted once in the fourth quarter, pinning Washington to its goal-line.

This is as good as it gets for Boise State three years in a row. Not enough for a school that thinks about BCS busting every year, but two losses this season, by a total of five points, were too much to overcome. Next year? The only thing they know is that they’ll be playing Washington on the opening weekend, hoping that another win over the Huskies opens up a chance to avoid the Las Vegas Bowl for a fourth straight year.

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