It's the Petersen Bowl: UW to Meet Boise in Vegas
Once the final horn, make that siren, sounded at the Apple Cup, the Washington football team celebrated a decisive victory over Washington State. The Huskies didn't know it, but they were headed for nine days of crazy developments.
Chris Petersen announced he would step down as head coach after six seasons. Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake accepted the job. Superlative junior tight end Hunter Bryant declared early for the NFL draft.
On Sunday, the college bowl selectors tossed out another unexpected move, pitting the UW against Boise State -- Petersen's two teams in his 14-year head-coaching career -- in the Vegas Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 21, as Sam Boyd Stadium. Kickoff is 4:30 p.m. ABC will provide the telecast.
Yet there was more. Petersen, in meeting with reporters, said senior offensive tackle Trey Adams and Bryant will skip the bowl game because of their NFL draft considerations. Junior quarterback Jacob Eason, who hasn't made a decision on his pro plans yet, will play for the Huskies.
In what should be an overly emotional farewell, Petersen will coach his final game for the Huskies (7-5 overall, 4-5 Pac-12) before officially handing over the team to Lake and taking an advisory role in the UW athletic department.
"Personally, there are a lot of teams I'd rather be playing," Petersen said of the matchup aimed at his coaching stops. "That's not what it's about. It's about the players."
The outgoing coach also said that sophomore offensive guard Jaxson Kirkland, who missed the Apple Cup with a leg injury, likely will be available for the Vegas Bowl. Redshirt freshman linebacker M.J. Tafisi, who's been out for half the season with a head injury, and freshman wide receiver Puka Nacua, who broke his foot, won't play.
The game is a rematch of the 2012 Vegas Bowl, when Petersen's Boise State edged the Huskies 28-26 on a last-minute field goal.
The contest also marks the second time Petersen will send Washington up against Boise State; in 2015, the Broncos hosted and beat the Huskies and their old coach 16-13 in Boise.
While the coaching connection matters, the postseason game might be a bit of a letdown for Boise State (12-1 overall, 8-0 in the Mountain West). After opening the season with an upset of Florida State and winning their league title, the Broncos couldn't be faulted for wanting a higher-rated postseason game.
After all, they were good enough to play in the Fiesta Bowl and beat Oklahoma in 2006, Petersen's first year leading the Broncos.
The Huskies and Broncos have met four times over the past dozen years in football, splitting the games. The UW beat Petersen and the Broncos 24-10 in 2007 and 38-6 in 2012, both times in Seattle.
Petersen says he will step away from football to enable himself enough time "to recharge." He didn't necessarily rule out a coaching return when meeting with the media, but somehow that seems unlikely for him.
For two more weeks, he's a football coach, trying to beat his first employer and win one more for his current bosses, then step away.
"They're really good, and it it what is is," Petersen said. "It's not easy on anyone."