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Updated Monday, November 26, 2012 at 11:26 PM

Las Vegas Bowl looks like probable destination for Huskies

By Bob Condotta
Seattle Times staff reporter

Washington and Boise State will play Aug. 31 to open the 2013 season in the first game in renovated Husky Stadium.

But no one seems to be bothered if the teams meet in a bowl game this year.

Dan Hanneke, executive director of the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl, said the prospect of UW and Boise State playing back-to-back games wouldn't dissuade his bowl from pitting those two in their Dec. 22 game in Las Vegas.

Hanneke said Monday he thinks the fact the teams play next year would mean a bowl game could be billed as "kind of starting that rivalry ... we don't see any negatives if that were the matchup."

Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian, asked on his radio show Monday night about playing Boise State in the Vegas Bowl, said he would have no issues.

"If that's the matchup, we will go play it and it would be a great one," he said, adding that he thinks the "odds are on" the Huskies heading to Las Vegas.

Hanneke said UW-Boise State could well be the pairing, though there are many other options in play and the bowl won't be able to decide anything until Saturday night at the earliest.

Washington, at 7-5, will fill one of the Pac-12's seven contracted bowl spots. The bowls are assigned a selection order, with Las Vegas picking fifth.

Hanneke said he expects UW to be available, along with Arizona and Arizona State — all three finished at 7-5.

It's generally expected that USC, also 7-5, will likely be taken by the Sun Bowl, which picks before Las Vegas. Oregon State and the Stanford/UCLA loser are likely headed to the Alamo and/or Holiday.

The Las Vegas Bowl pits the No. 5 Pac-12 selection against the No. 1 team from the Mountain West Conference, which will be either Boise State (9-2) or Fresno State (9-3).

Boise State plays Nevada on Saturday. Hanneke said his bowl will not make a decision until after the Boise State-Nevada game. Boise State remains on the fringes of the BCS at No. 20, and while unlikely, with a win could move up enough to get an automatic bid that would leave Fresno State to the Las Vegas bowl. More likely, Las Vegas will end up with Boise State, with Fresno State headed to the Hawaii Bowl.

If so, that might eliminate Arizona State from consideration. Boise State and ASU played in the Las Vegas Bowl last year — that's the sort of rematch bowls generally work to avoid.

And in that scenario, the Las Vegas Bowl would then be left to choose either UW or Arizona as its Pac-12 representative.

Both teams lost their season finales, and Hanneke said UW's 31-28 overtime defeat to Washington State in the Apple Cup wouldn't be much of a factor.

"Washington has had a great season and our thing is we always try to do what is best for the bowl," he said, adding that ticket sales and creating a good matchup for a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN are keys.

Should things work out differently, UW would likely head to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 29. Navy already has accepted an invitation.

Sarkisian in mix

for Arkansas job?

It's the time of year when coaching rumors run rampant. And one Monday night linked Sarkisian with the Arkansas job.

The website CoachingSearch.com reported that a source said "multiple people close" to Sarkisian believe that he is "definitely in the mix" to fill the vacant Arkansas job.

That job became open John L. Smith was told over the weekend he would not be back. Smith had been the interim coach after Bobby Petrino was fired last April.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.


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