It's true that - with the exception of two bad quarters in Reno on November 26 - our Boise State Broncos played a season worthy of going to the Rose Bowl. TCU was just a little better than us, and they're going instead.
But this BSU fan is pleased with the Broncos' consolation prize - and when the "must-see bowl game" lists come out in the next day or two and the final story of this season is written, I'm betting that the Las Vegas Bowl will rank above the Fiesta Bowl and the Cotton Bowl. Forget the BCS and its forced qualifiers. (8-4 UConn in the Fiesta Bowl? Really?!?) Update: Indeed, ESPN ranks the Vegas Bowl #7 out of 35 games, higher than the Fiesta Bowl.
The biggest plus is probably the date. BSU fans hated just about everything about the idea of playing in San Francisco: the goofy name of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, the idea of driving over Donner Pass to get there (Las Vegas is a mere 15 miles closer, but a bit less of a white-knuckle trip), and especially the prospect of playing 7-5 Boston College.
But the date was the worst aspect: At this point, our guys deserve to have a short break for finals and play their bowl game. By January 9, most fans are going to be bowled out, ready for the Oregon-Auburn BCS title game. (Go Ducks!) People will have been back on the job and students will have been back in school for a week. The Idaho Legislature starts January 10. Aside from being the final holiday buzz kill, that fact alone means many Boiseans would've had a hard time making a bowl trip to the Bay Area.
But on December 22? It's just the fifth day and the fifth game of bowl season, and the Vegas Bowl will be the first Top 20 match-up. Fans nationwide will watch this game, and Boise State fans - even those disappointed by the pick - ought to consider making the drive. There is no cheaper week to visit Vegas, and you can be home in time for Christmas.
My family usually plans trips months ahead, but we made a snap decision Sunday to go to this game. My husband and daughter were already off of work and school, and I can get away from my job, too. My family - all but me - loves Las Vegas. ("This is the only time you'll catch me voluntarily saying, 'Let's go to Vegas,'"I told them.) We nabbed a rental car for under $90 for four days and we see plenty of name-brand Strip hotel rooms in the $50-60 range (with even-cheaper rooms abundantly available). Game tickets are $62 with all fees included; not a bargain, but not much more than a BSU home game. Most of all, we'll be there for the Broncos.