Boise State Broncos (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (2-3 SU. 2-3 ATS), 9:00 p.m. EST, College Football Week 6, Friday October 7, 2011, Bulldog Stadium, Fresno, California, TV: ESPN
by Scotty L, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BSU -21/Fresno St. +21
The Boise State Broncos take their high-scoring act to Cali to face the Fresno St. Bulldogs. The Broncos are 4-0, looking to eventually get some consideration in the upper-reaches of the BCS. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are just trying to get their bearings and establish some positive momentum. As 21-point underdogs, not too many people like their chances in this matchup.
Fresno looked awful on Saturday against a visiting 1-3 Mississippi squad, losing 38-28. The defense showed almost zero clutch in the 4th quarter with the game on the line. It was just a bad home loss that can really set a team back. The Bulldogs have won two games and played Nebraska fairly tough on the road in a 42-29 loss. But those wins were over Division I-AA North Dakota and a down Idaho team, whose only win was against that same North Dakota team. And the fact that they needed a 4th-quarter score to beat North Dakota doesn’t help their case, either.
As is usually the case, Fresno has a QB with big stats. This year’s guy is Derek Carr—younger brother of the former Bulldogs star and NFL bust, David. But if Derek can be half as good as his brother; this offense could make some noise. Carr, with 1291 passing yards and 10 touchdowns is making strides as a first-year starter. 5’7” fireplug RB Robbie Rouse is back after an 1100-yard season. WRs Rashad Evans (23 receptions) and Jalen Saunders (17-463-4) have been Carr’s favorite targets. With an electric 27.2 yards per catch, Saunders could become a premier target if his chemistry with Carr continues to develop.
Boise State has given up 67 points in their 4 games and it’s worth noting that 51 of those have been in the second half. As is the case in their past two games, the issue is decided at halftime. The Broncos maybe stop trying as hard, which is understandable, allowing monster underdogs to cover at the end of games. It’s just the nature of the beast when betting big favorites.
But don’t expect Boise State to go into some mid-season swoon, which hasn’t happened during QB Kellen Moore’s tenure as quarterback. Bettors expecting the Broncos to coast during this sometimes-dreary and unchallenging part of the campaign are inevitably disappointed, as they have consistently covered the spread in these types of games. Last year, they thumped Fresno State 51-0. The ’09 game was closer, with the Bulldogs only losing by 17, but in ’08 Boise hammered them 61-10. Kellen Moore is successful against this team and accustomed to beating up on them, completing 62 of 87 passes for 9 touchdowns and one pick in 3 previous games.
Former Broncos standouts Austin Pettis and Titus Young were a big part of that 51-0 blowout last season, but thankfully for Boise State, players have stepped up to fill in the void. RB Doug Martin is solid in the backfield, adding 14 receptions. Pass catchers Mitch Burroughs and Matt Miller have combined for 40 receptions. And Tyler Shoemaker already has 6 touchdown catches among his 13 receptions. While Moore has 4 picks, nearly half of his total from the last 2 seasons combined, he is still completing passes at a deadly 73.9% with 14 touchdowns.
Again, the Broncos are a huge favorite, laying 3 touchdowns on the road. And they’re doing so against a team with a little offensive giddy-up. In light of two consecutive backdoor-covers, one should be hesitant. The problem for Fresno State is that they might not even be able to stop a Boise State team that stopped trying hard. They will probably put up some second-half points, putting a Boise cover under siege, but they will need some key stops and they might not get them.
Scotty L’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: BSU owns the stage on Friday night and a big game from Moore and friends should be expected, particularly against a Fresno defense that might be winging it. And while Fresno has some offensive potential, the Broncos “D” is as much a part of their success as the offense at this point. Look for a vintage Boise State performance en route to another cover. Take Boise State minus 21 points.
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