The Boise State Broncos and Washington Huskies will square off in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas this bowl season. Both teams have solid defenses, but the offenses have had their struggles. Each team got better on offense as the season rolled on, but Boise State's numbers are a bit better than their bowl opponents'.
Some might argue that this is because the Huskies played a much tougher schedule, and that is true. However, it is also true that the Huskies have only played a couple teams with a defense as good as Boise State this season.
The Broncos defense has been especially good in shutting down the passing game, and they will want to continue that success in Las Vegas. It will be a difficult task considering the Huskies have a couple of very good athletes catching the ball. Boise State, on the other hand, tend to spread the ball around to multiple targets.
With that in mind, let's look at which team has the edge when it comes to catching the ball.
Washington's Dual Threat: A Pair of Sophomores
Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a sophomore tight end for the Huskies. He is an impressive athlete and is a big key to the offensive success of his team. At 6'6", 266 lbs, he is also a very imposing player.
Not only that, but he was a finalist for the John Mackey Award this year. Even though he didn't win the award, his statistics were better than Tyler Eifert, the very good senior tight end from Notre Dame. However, Austin had 19 more catches, two more touchdowns and 167 yards more than Eifert.
On the season, Seferian-Jenkins caught 63 passes for 791 yards, six touchdowns and averaged 12.6 yards per catch. Another impressive statistic is that 29 of his 63 receptions were for first downs. He also had 21 grabs for over 15 yards on the season.
He will be someone that Boise State will have to key on. They will have to take away his ability to make the big play, especially on third down. If they can remove him or limit him in Las Vegas, it could be a long night for the Huskies offense.
One other note on Seferian-Jenkins—he seems to be a class act. After the Apple Cup against instate rival Washington State, he was sucker punched by a fan. However, the Washington tight end says it's just a thing of the past, according to an article written by Bill Swartz posted on mynorthwest.com.
The article quotes Austin about the incident. He says:
He was probably intoxicated or something like that. I'm not really worried about it. I'm over it.
Kasen Williams, a sophomore wide receiver, is another common target for quarterback Keith Price. On the season, Williams has caught 71 passes for 783 yards and six touchdowns. He also averages 11 yards per catch.
Williams is another first-down artist, with 38 of his catches gaining the Huskies the needed yardage to move the sticks. He is another player Boise State will have to worry about.
Boise State's Multiple Targets: Miller, Moore, Potter, Burks and SWR
Sophomore Matt Miller is the Broncos' leading receiver. On the season, he caught 60 passes for 679 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 11.3 yards per grab.
Miller is crafty, and knows how to get open. He is very much a go-to guy, and is coming off his best game of the season against Nevada when he caught seven passes for 127 yards and one touchdown.
Wide receiver Kirby Moore should be another weapon in the Broncos arsenal. However, he was nowhere to be seen in the Nevada game.
On the season, Moore has caught 36 passes for 368 yards and a single touchdown. He has averaged 10.2 yards per catch and made some simply amazing catches when Boise State needed them most.
Senior Chris Potter is another excellent receiver for the Broncos. On the season, Potter caught 25 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns.
Potter is also a threat returning punts, and that will be something Boise State will need from him in the Maaco Bowl.
Potter is also a leader on the team, and as a senior, he has been to a few big games and bowl games in his time at Boise State.
Junior Aaron Burks is yet another target for quarterback Joe Southwick. Burks is a tall and fast wide receiver who poses a deep threat. His involvement in games has been sporadic, but when he's on, he is on.
Burks has caught 16 passes for 279 yards and one touchdown. The glaring stat is that he averages 17.4 yards per grab. If Boise State can utilize Burks to stretch the field it means good things for the rest of the offense.
True freshman Shane Williams-Rhodes, aka SWR, is a bit of a secret weapon that isn't much of a secret anymore. His stats aren't overwhelming, but he sure is fun to watch.
On the season, SWR caught 24 passes for 137 yards and one touchdown. However, it is the spark that his impressive Tasmanian devil running style brings to the game that makes a difference. It seems to get the crowd going and inspire his team.
Look for that to continue in Las Vegas.
Look for more comparisons of these two teams in the days leading up to the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas here on Bleacher Report.