SALT LAKE CITY — It's officially official. Utah and Boise State will meet in MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, Dec. 22 at Sam Boyd Stadium.
"Boise State is one of the top teams in the country and the opportunity to play them in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl will present a big challenge for our players and coaches," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in a released statement. "Until a week ago, the Broncos were in the mix for the national championship, so this game will have a lot of national as well as regional interest. Not many bowls outside the BCS games will feature teams with the kind of success Boise State and Utah have experienced in recent years, which makes this an exciting matchup. We will have our work cut out for us, but I know our players and staff are looking forward to playing in a bowl game against such a quality opponent."
Solid speculation turned into reality Sunday when the Bowl Championship Series released the 10th-ranked Broncos (11-1) from consideration. Their consolation prize, via an at-large bid created when the Pac-10 failed to provide an eligible team for the Las Vegas game, is a meeting with the No. 19/20 Utes (10-2), who were invited earlier in the week.
"We are very excited upon our selection to the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Our team is looking forward to another great bowl experience and the opportunity of finishing our season against another nationally ranked opponent," said Boise State coach Chris Petersen. "Utah has one of the top programs in the country and has proven that again this season. Coach Kyle Whittingham and his staff do a great job in preparing their team and we look forward to the challenge."
This is just the second matchup between ranked opponents in the 19-year history of the bowl. The first came last December when No. 15 BYU overpowered No. 16 Oregon State, 44-20.
"We welcome Boise State to our game for the first time and by pairing two powerhouse western programs in the Broncos and Utah Utes, our committee just put together one of the top matchups of the entire bowl season," executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said in making the announcement. "This is the one everyone wanted and we expect a full house later this month to see two ranked teams playing their final game as members of their respective conferences (Boise State joins the Mountain West in 2011 while Utah moves to the Pac-10)."
Boise State athletics director Gene Bleymaier was pleased to accept the invitation.
"On behalf of Boise State University, I want to thank executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy and her staff in selecting the Broncos for this year's game. The MAACO Bowl Las Vegas committee and the city of Las Vegas have a reputation for hosting great bowl games and we are look forward to experiencing their hospitality firsthand," he said. "Boise State has been fortunate to attend several different bowl games over the past decade, and we know this will be another outstanding bowl experience for our team and fans."
Utah and Boise State have met just six times. The Broncos have won four of the meetings, including a 36-3 victory in 2006 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Tickets are now on sale at www.utahutes.com.
Utah's bowl history (12-3)
1939 Sun Bowl: UTAH 26, New Mexico 0
1964 Liberty Bowl: UTAH 32, West Virginia 6
1992 Copper Bowl: Washington State 31, UTAH 28
1993 Freedom Bowl: USC 28, UTAH 21
1996 Copper Bowl: Wisconsin 38, UTAH 10
1999 Las Vegas Bowl: UTAH 17, Fresno State 16
2001 Las Vegas Bowl: UTAH 10, USC 6
2003 Liberty Bowl: UTAH 17, Southern Mississippi 0
2005 Fiesta Bowl: UTAH 35, Pittsburgh 7
2005 Emerald Bowl: UTAH 38, Georgia Tech 10
2006 Armed Forces Bowl: UTAH 25, Tulsa 13
2007 Poinsettia Bowl: UTAH 35, Navy 32
2009 Sugar Bowl: UTAH 31, Alabama 17
2009 Poinsettia Bowl: UTAH 37, California 27
2010 Las Vegas Bowl: Utah vs. Boise State
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
No. 20 Utah (10-2) vs. No. 10 Boise State (11-1)
Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
Dec. 22, 6 p.m.
TV: ESPN Radio: 700 AM