BY JASON VONDERSMITH/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Las Vegas Bowl berth disrupts Ducks recruiting, but they get a chance to beat a ranked team

The Oregon Ducks will play 25th-ranked Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, and they'll be instructed to behave off the field, their head coach on Sunday said.

"Leave your money home," said Willie Taggart, half-jokingly.

The Ducks, of course, entered Monday presumably not knowing whether Taggart would be their coach, since he was linked to the Florida State opening. But it'll be an interesting matchup of Northwest teams for many reasons:

• The coaching subplot could still be lingering.

• The recruiting aspect — with an early signing period Dec. 20-22 — figures in, as recruiting has been disrupted for both staffs.

• With Chris Petersen, now the University of Washington football boss, as Boise State coach, the Broncos beat UO in 2008 and 2009. The '09 game ended with LeGarrette Blount's infamous punch of Byron Hout in Chip Kelly's first game as Oregon head coach.

• Oregon's 2006, 38-8 Vegas Bowl loss to BYU basically served as impetus for the resurgence/rededication of the program that soared to great heights, which included Kelly's hiring as offensive coordinator.

• Will Ducks senior running back Royce Freeman play, or skip the game as he prepares for NFL showcasing?

• Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, who has a 41-12 record with the Broncos, reportedly was interviewed for the position that eventually went to Taggart (who has a 47-50 career record) last year about this time.

• The Ducks will be staying at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, site of the horrific Oct. 1 mass shooting.

CROSBY• It'll be a homecoming for star offensive left tackle Tyrell Crosby, who hails from Henderson, Nevada (and who'll presumably play, as another NFL prospect).

Oregon hasn't faced a top-25 opponent at full strength, and the Ducks lost to Washington State, Stanford and Washington as part of four losses without injured quarterback Justin Herbert in which opponents outscored them 151-34.

The Ducks (7-5) rebounded to beat Arizona, 48-28, for their sixth win and bowl eligibility, and then cleaned up on woeful, one-win Oregon State, 69-10.

"It's always good to go against really good competition," Taggart said Sunday. "It'll give us a good idea of where we're at with our football team."

After taking the weekdays off for finals week, and for coaches to go recruiting, the Ducks are scheduled to resume practice Saturday.

They have practiced three days already and, should they practice once each day until the Dec. 16 game, they'd still come up short of the 15 practices allotted to them for bowl preparation, an unfortunate situation for the rebuilding program and its younger players.

The Broncos (10-3) beat Fresno State 17-14 last weekend for the Mountain West title. They are led by junior QB Brett Rypien, the nephew of former NFL QB and Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien. Brett Rypien has thrown for 2,515 yards and 14 TDs (with four interceptions), while completing 63.5 percent of his passes. Alex Mattison has rushed for 1,074 yards (5.1 per carry) and 12 TDs.

The Broncos are averaging 32.1 points per game on offense and giving up 22.5.

The teams had two common opponents. Boise State blew a lead and lost in three overtimes at Washington State, 47-44; the Ducks lost to WSU at Autzen Stadium, 33-10. Oregon blew out Wyoming on the road, 49-13; the Broncos beat Wyoming 24-14 at home.

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