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Originally published Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 7:12 PM

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Huskies back at football practice, with Las Vegas a hot topic

Nothing is official yet, but all signs point to a contest against Boise State

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Sark's right to reinforce the Stanford win. That's the historical standard of the Husk... MORE
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Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said the Huskies displayed no sign of an Apple Cup hangover when they returned to the practice field Saturday for the first time since losing to Washington State.

"I thought it was pretty spirited for giving them a week off," he said.

The Huskies practiced for about an hour and 45 minutes, and while they still don't officially know where they are heading, all signs continue to point to the city where hangovers are notoriously harder to shrug off — Las Vegas.

All bowls will be finalized Sunday with conference title games wrapping up Saturday and the BCS field set Sunday.

And while everything seems to point to Vegas for UW, Sarkisian said after practice, until everything is signed, a little bit of uncertainty remains.

But one bowl official confirmed speculation that UW appears headed to the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 22, likely to play Boise State.

"The rumors we've heard is Vegas wants the Huskies," said Doug Kelly, a spokesman for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, which has the choice following the Las Vegas Bowl. "We would have liked to have entertained the idea of Washington, as well, but they pick ahead of us. We just have to wait and see what happens (Sunday)."

Kelly said his bowl was moving forward with the idea it would choose either Arizona or Arizona State.

There has been some speculation that the Las Vegas Bowl has wavered back and forth all week on UW or Arizona.

Las Vegas Bowl spokesman Mark Wallington acknowledged earlier in the week that the bowl committee was pretty evenly split between the two schools. But speculation in the past few days has been that the Vegas bowl has leaned toward UW.

Boise State (10-2) appeared to wrap up the other side of the Las Vegas Bowl when it completed its regular season with a 27-21 victory over Nevada to win a share of the Mountain West Conference title.

Boise State, though, is still in the running for a possible shot at the BCS, and Vegas Bowl officials said they could not name their pairing until Boise State's BCS status was clear.

Most considered BSU's shot at a BCS bowl to be unlikely. But Boise State's victory over Nevada coupled with defeats by a few teams ahead of it such as Kent State and UCLA kept those hopes alive.

If Boise State was to somehow be pulled into the BCS, then the Vegas Bowl would invite Fresno State, which also won a share of the MWC and finished 9-3 overall.

And if for some reason things changed and UW did not go to Vegas, it would then land in either the Kraft Fight Hunger (Dec. 29 in San Francisco against Navy) or New Mexico (Dec. 15 in Albuquerque against Nevada).

Washington and Boise State are set to open the 2013 season in the first game in the renovated Husky Stadium on Aug. 30. During a radio interview earlier this week, Sarkisian said it would be "awesome" to play Boise State in a bowl game.

Washington and Boise State have played just once, a 24-10 UW victory in 2007 at Husky Stadium.

The Broncos have won 10 or more games every season since 2005 in emerging as one of the most consistent college football programs in the nation.

Such consistency is what Sarkisian wants to see out of the Huskies. While the loss to WSU was a dim end to the regular season, Sarkisian said the Huskies watched Stanford win the Pac-12 title game Friday and was reminded of a season highlight — UW's 17-13 victory over the Cardinal in September.

"We talked about (that) we were the one team in the conference that beat them, and the only other team in the country that beat Stanford is Notre Dame, who's playing for the national championship, and that came down to an inch, and possibly a bad call," Sarkisian said. "So, I think we're aware of what we're capable of ... when you beat the conference champ and you're the only team to say that you can, that's a standard that we can play to, and now consistently we need to be able to play to that level."

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

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