Utah Utes football: Boise State could be Utes' Las Vegas Bowl opponent

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 1 2010 6:00 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — How about a Utah-Boise State matchup in MAACO Bowl Las Vegas?

Shortly after Utah officially accepted an invitation to play in the Dec. 22 game at Sam Boyd Stadium, the Idaho Statesman reported that "now organizers can focus on trying to land No. 9 Boise State as the No. 21 Utes' opponent."

ESPN, which owns the Las Vegas game and also the New Mexico Bowl, wants to move the Western Athletic Conference's commitment to send a team to Albuquerque over to the game with Utah.

That, however, may not land Boise State. The newspaper reported that the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl has the first rights to the Broncos and has "appeared unwilling to let go" of them. Nevada, continued the report, will fill whichever bowl doesn't get Boise State.

The Pac-10 was supposed to send a team to MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, but will not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill the slot — leaving officials to search through an at-large pool or, perhaps, seek ESPN's assistance in brokering a matchup.

After practice and before the Idaho Statesman report, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was pleased about the Utes' destination. They defeated USC in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl.

"We're excited about the opportunity to be going back to Las Vegas. It's been quite awhile since we've been there," said Whittingham. "The players are excited and the players are looking forward to it, and we think it's a good situation for us."

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company