Vegas Bowl storyline: Utah's bowl winning streak vs. Boise State's bowl blahs

SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 20: The Utah Utes get ready to take the field for the game with the San Diego State Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium on November 20 2010 in San Diego California. Utah won 38-34. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Utah Utes have won nine consecutive bowl games. Boise State has lost four consecutive non-BCS bowl games. And does any of it matter?

After the jump, I take a closer look and throw out some theories for the Broncos' bowl struggles. I even blame things on Dan Hawkins since that's a popular thing to do nowadays. Then it's up to you to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments and in the poll.

Utah bowl history, 1999-now
  • 2009 Poinsettia Bowl: Utah 37, Cal 27
  • 2008 Sugar Bowl: Utah 31, Alabama 17
  • 2007 Poinsettia Bowl: Utah 35, Navy 32
  • 2006 Armed Forces Bowl: Utah 25, Tulsa 13
  • 2005 Emerald Bowl: Utah 38, Georgia Tech 10
  • 2005 Fiesta Bowl: Utah 35, Pitt 7
  • 2003 Liberty Bowl: Utah 17, Southern Miss 0
  • 2001 Las Vegas Bowl: Utah 10, USC 6
  • 1999 Las Vegas Bowl: Utah 17, Fresno State 16

The Utes' last loss was in the 1996 Copper Bowl when Wisconsin (and Ron Dayne) beat them, 38-10.

Over the last 10 years, Utah is 9-0 in bowl games, including wins over four BCS-conference teams. And Pitt. /rimshot!

Boise State bowl history, 1999-now

  • 2010 Fiesta Bowl: Boise State 17, TCU 10
  • 2008 Poinsettia Bowl: TCU 17, Boise State 16
  • 2007 Hawaii Bowl: East Carolina 41, Boise State 38
  • 2007 Fiesta Bowl: Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42
  • 2005 MPC Computers Bowl: Boston College 27, Boise State 21
  • 2004 Liberty Bowl: Louisville 44, Boise State 40
  • 2003 Fort Worth Bowl: Boise State 34, TCU 31
  • 2002 Humanitarian Bowl: Boise State 34, Iowa State 16
  • 2000 Humanitarian Bowl: Boise State 38, UTEP 23
  • 1999 Humanitarian Bowl: Boise State 34, Louisville 31

If you want to get really technical about things, you could point out that Boise State has never won a non-BCS bowl game away from Boise against any team other than TCU. That's a fact, I guess. Another fact is that Boise State has lost its four bowl games by an average of only four points. So pick your favorite fact and go with that one.

Are bowl winning streaks predictive in any way?

In other words, do bowl winning streaks factor into the outcome at all?

Some would say yes, and they would probably all be Utah fans. Perhaps the best analogy for why this makes sense is Boise State and WAC championships. The Broncos expect to win them, they earnestly seek them out, they place them as goals from Day One, and year-to-year it is one of the most important achievements they can earn. There's no reason to think it's no the same for Utah and bowls. Once you've been doing it for so long, psychologically you have an edge.

Those who say no to the bowl winning streak factor (Boise State fans, Bob Stoops) see bowl games more at a seasonal level. The only factors that matter are the players on the field and the team's performance throughout the year. The idea of bowl winning streaks coming into play is like the Broncos' upset of Fresno in 2001 factoring into the teams' matchup in 2010.

Personally, I see the value in what bowl winning streaks could conceivably bring to a team: confidence, familiarity, etc. I just happen to think that the on-field product is way, waaaay more important.

The Utes didn't pull out a three-point win against Navy in the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl because they had won six straight bowls before then. They won because of a late Navy interception and an officiating error.

In my mind, bowl game winning streaks are a nonstarter. They sound good, but ultimately, it's an empty argument.

Reasons for Boise State's bowl struggles

That said, let's opine about why Boise State doesn't have one.

Injuries and personnel problems

Perhaps more than any other reason I am about to list, lost players have been the biggest cause of Boise State's bowl problems. Jeremy Childs missing the Hawaii Bowl was huge. All mobile defensive ends being out for the Poinsettia Bowl was a problem. Then again, the Broncos were maybe at their thinnest ever going into last year's Fiesta Bowl, and they still came out victorious, so maybe injuries/suspensions are overrated.

Nothing's on the line

It's probably not terribly easy to get up for a game with zero implications toward anything when you've been spending all season playing for a national championship. TCU made this apparent last year in the Fiesta. A lot of people claim that the Broncos didn't take their Hawaii Bowl seriously. I didn't get that vibe in the Poinsettia, but the theory is an interesting one at least.

Dan Hawkins

Just kidding. I'm kinda bitter about that MPC Computers Bowl.

Chris Johnson, Matt Ryan, and others

Boise State has played some really good NFL-ready players in its bowl games in recent years, and almost always the good players have great games.

Better teams, closer games

Of course, there's still the idea that nothing is wrong with the Broncos in bowl season. The law of football averages just tends to catch up to them.

Of Boise State's four losses, all were one-possession games. Even in their wins, the Broncos have only blown out one bowl team by more than two scores (Iowa State). These games are close, and in football, anything can happen in a close game. A bounce here, a call there, and suddenly you've lost and there was nothing you could do about it. Except blame the officials. That is always an option.

Your turn

What do you make of bowl game winning streaks? What theories do you have for the Broncos' bowl struggles? Got some ideas that I didn't list? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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