College football junkies know that weird things happen west of the Rockies on weird nights at weird times with weird offenses and world class athletes. Fans in Eastern and Central time zones stay up late to see what Chris Petersen might have up his sleeve for his imminent bowl appearance. In eight seasons at Boise State, Petersen compiled a record of 92-12 from 2006-2013. In Division I football that’s remarkable – anywhere. Petersen put Boise State on the map and forged a role for conferences outside the Power Five.
Not surprisingly, Idaho wasn’t a big enough stage to keep a brilliant coach like Petersen away from the big time. Lots of schools came calling. UCLA made a sweet offer in 2011, but Petersen was extremely comfortable in Boise. After the 2013 season, Washington signed Petersen to a five-year, $18 million-plus contract. A million dollar raise goes a long way.
Washington-Boise State in a Battle of Weird
Sure enough, the college football gods have placed Petersen back in Boise as his Washington Huskies take on the Boise State Broncos in an intriguing Pacific Coast matchup on a weird night at a weird time in a weird place. This is a critical game for both teams. Boise wants to justify its top-25 ranking at number 23 while Washington would love to notch a legitimate win before they run the PAC 12 North gauntlet. From October 8th through November 7th, Washington will face USC, Oregon, Stanford, Arizona and Utah. Petersen–like the rest of the country–will lose some sleep, but he won’t be afraid. In his second year, he is moving things around.
Washington’s defense lost three first-round NFL picks in last year’s draft: DL Danny Shelton (12), CB Marcus Peters (18) and DB Shaq Thompson (25). Safety Budda Baker represents a Washington defense that, like the rest of the team, will be a mystery until the Huskies roll out Petersen’s rebuild. Petersen has remained intentionally mysterious about his starting quarterback. Jeff Lindquist, K.J. Carta-Samuels and Jake Browning are all candidates, but speculation is that Browning will get the nod. He is a true freshman with comparisons to former Boise State signal-caller, Kellen Moore.
Moore was tutored by then-offensive coordinator, and now Boise State Head Coach, Bryan Harsin. Harsin, after a stint as Texas’ offensive coordinator and a brief head coaching job at Arkansas State, returned to Boise to replace mentor Petersen. Got it. Yes, college football has a buffet of delicious scenarios.
Petersen made razzle-dazzle the norm in Boise, but Harsin played his cards pretty straight last year as Boise went an impressive 12-2. Petersen’s Huskies, however, finished 8-6. Tonight’s game figures to be a classic master-student offensive showdown, but be careful. There will be lots of speed on both sides of the ball, and crazy things happen out West. Look for something weird on special teams from Petersen, and look for Harsin to press the issue early. Petersen’s specialty is his overall mastery and game management. As of this morning, Vegas Insider has Boise as a 13-point favorite across the board. That’s a heavy burden for Harsin.
Washington versus Boise State at 10:15 EST. Yep. It’s going to be weird.