Mountain West Championship Game
Date and Time: Saturday, December 2, 4:45 PM PT
Location: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID
Odds: BSU -9.5, O/U=50.5
Last week, Fresno beat Boise and gave the Broncos something legitimately to worry about. Except, maybe not so much: Boise State looked lackluster throughout the game with very little sense of urgency. Maybe they were thinking ahead to this week, maybe they were just cautious…and just maybe, Fresno State caught them completely and totally off-guard. Let’s answer a few questions for this week:
Why the hell is Boise favored by nearly 10 points, especially after losing last week?
You could argue that this is a case of betters trusting the Broncos to win more causing the spread to move a lot more in Boise State’s direction. You could also make a case for “home-team advantage” playing more than just the usual 3-points. Or it could be the fact that the Broncos didn’t give Fresno a lot of looks last week and are keeping surprises for this game? Whatever the case is, it seems as the odds favor the Broncos returning the 11-point favorite from last week.
Will the Milk Can be featured this game?
The “coveted” Mountain West Championship trophy is the big one this week, however since this is a rivalry game, the Milk Can is expected to make an appearance.
So who is really going to win this game?
This is the question we care about more than anything. Let’s look at it from the teams perspectives:
The Broncos were embarrassed last weekend, however season statistics favor the Broncos offensively. Marcus McMaryion and Brett Rypien have had very similar stats, thanks to Boise’s dual quarterback system (when you throw that factor in, Montell Cozart makes the Broncos passing game more dangerous). Alexander Mattison climbed to a slow start, however finished with over 1000 yards rushing on the season, even though as a team, Fresno State has accumulated more rushing yards than Boise State.
Defensively, Fresno State has a tendency to be very stingy on the ball. The Bulldogs give up less yardage both on the ground and through the air than the Broncos. One thing where Boise State has the advantage: turnovers. Both of these teams have significantly improved the turnover margin from last year, however the Broncos hold a slight advantage in terms of numbers of turnovers created.
When looking at special teams, both Jimmy Camacho and Haden Hoggarth have been spectacular for both teams this year, as have Quinn Skillin and Blake Cusick. The only significant difference for these teams really come with Avery WIlliams, Boise State’s return specialist who has two punt returns on the year. If Williams can take a return to the house, that might be the difference in the game.
I think we can expect Boise State to come out more energized than last week. However, I would not place bets on them covering the spread. The only reason why I am not choosing Fresno State to win this game is because Boise is a difficult place to play, even at only 60-70% capacity. Broncos – 34, Bulldogs – 31