Here are three keys for Boise State headed into the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas against Arizona State on Thursday night:
1. Protect against the deep pass. The Sun Devils might have posted a disappointing season, but they do have one of the most prolific passing offenses in the nation with Brock Osweiler under center. Arizona State ranks No. 11 in the nation in passing, averaging 310 yards a game, and pass defense has been the biggest area of weakness for Boise State this season because injuries have really hurt the secondary. The good news is that starting cornerback Jamar Taylor is expected to play for the first time since the Nov. 12 game against TCU.
2. Protect Kellen Moore. The Boise State offensive line is one of the best in the nation once again, but it's preparing to face a big test in Arizona State. During interviews this week in Las Vegas, several Boise State linemen said this defensive front is the best one the Broncos will face this year. Left guard Joe Kellogg called the group "special." You know Arizona State is going to try to come after Moore to get this offense out of its rhythm, so the line has got to be as good as always in order to give Moore the time he needs to throw and keep the offense moving.
3. Prove it again. Boise State deserves to be playing in a BCS game, but there really is no issue in getting this team motivated to play in a bowl that is a notch below. The Broncos did it in this very game last year and beat Utah. They have something very special on the line in this one -- the opportunity to win the 50th game for the senior class, a mark that would set a new school record. Getting to do it against a team from an AQ conference -- even if it is one that went a disappointing 6-6 -- would be just as important. Boise State has won five straight against teams from AQ conferences, and the current seniors are 3-0 against teams from the Pac-12. If you count Utah last year, the Broncos are 4-0.