Chris Petersen’s last opponent at Washington will be the team that gave him his first head coaching job.
Las Vegas Bowl organizers capitalized on circumstances Sunday that allowed them to invite Petersen’s Washington Huskies to square off against Boise State on Dec. 21.
“It’s always our intention to take the outright champion of the Mountain West, and the Broncos beat Hawaii yesterday to earn that designation,” Las Vegas Bowl executive director John Saccenti said. “It ended up working out through the Pac-12 side of things record-wise that we were in line for Washington to play here.
“These are two great college football brands, and the storyline of Chris Petersen having coached at both programs just makes it an even more intriguing matchup.”
Washington went 7-5 in a regular season that failed to meet expectations. The Huskies finished 4-5 and in a three-way tie for second place in the Pac-12 North, four games behind Oregon. They were the best team still available when it was the Las Vegas Bowl’s turn to pick.
Petersen was 92-12 in eight years with the Broncos, and seven members of his Washington staff worked for him at Boise State or have ties to the school.
“Obviously, personally speaking, there’s a lot other teams that I probably like to be playing for this last time, but it is what it is and it’s interesting how sometimes things work out,” Petersen told reporters in Seattle.
Petersen coached against his old team once before, losing 16-13 in Boise in 2015.
“That was different because every one of those (Boise) players, almost all of them, we were involved with,” Petersen said. “That was a really, really difficult situation to have to go back into Bronco Stadium.”
Petersen coached for Boise State against Washington in the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl, with the Broncos winning 28-26.
Petersen will go into his final game 54-26 at Washington. He’s led the Huskies to bowls in each of his six seasons, including the 2016 College Football Playoff. That team won the Pac-12 championship and finished 12-2 after losing to Alabama 24-7 in the CFP semifinal at the Peach Bowl.
The 55-year-old Petersen announced last week he would step down after the bowl. He plans to stay in the Washington athletic department in an advisory role. Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake takes over the program after the game.
AP Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed from Seattle.
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