Boise State Broncos (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, College Football Week 1, Saturday, September 3, 2011, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
by Scotty L, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Betting Odds: BSU -3/UGA +3
The Broncos of Boise State travel to Georgia to take on the Bulldogs in an interesting encounter on Saturday, September 3 to kick off the 2011 season. The Broncos are in the top-ten in the polls, after a 12-1 season, while the Bulldogs have been getting some play in the top-25. That might surprise some people who will note Georgias 6-7 mark last year, capped off by a loss to Central Florida in a lowly bowl game. Thats not the Georgia we know.
Georgia got off to slow start last year, losing 4 of its first 5 as growing pains were felt. Freshman quarterback Aaron Murray took some time to get his bearings, but when he did, the Bulldogs started winning some games. He finished the season with over 3000 yards passing with 24 touchdowns against only 8 picks. His progression is supposed to continue this season.
The Bulldogs lost A.J. Greenwho was selected 4th overall in the draft. The offensive line returns at full strength, as do a pair of big backs who should be better after a year under their belt. Caleb King and Washaun Ealy averaged over 5 yards a carry, but never quite turned it loose. If some key players continue to develop on offense and they can find some guys to fill the holes in the passing game, this offense could be pretty good.
The defense returns 9 starters, including beastly linebacker Julian Houston. With so much returning talent, a coach on the hot-seat, and the prestige and pride of a historically great program, the stars seem to be lining up for a good yearmaybe 9-10 wins. Mark Richt has been at the helm for a decade. The growing pains from last season should be over. Its time to produce.
Boise St., which is often criticized for a soft schedule, gets a pretty stiff test in their opener. Last season, they also dispatched a tough opponent away from home in beating Virginia Tech to open the season. The Broncos lost some key talent, but there might be enough still in place to make for a special year. Offensive playmakers like Avery, Pettis, and Young are gone. Kellen Moore might struggle at first to find his new support system, but the return of RB Doug Martin should help. Martin rushed for over 1200 yards and caught 28 balls.
You have to hand it to Kellen Moore. The senior quarterback has enjoyed a fabulous career. In the past 2 seasons, he has thrown 74 touchdowns against only 9 interceptions. Some of the guys he depended on to achieve those lofty stats are gone, but there is little reason to think a program like Boise St. doesnt have a gaggle of talent waiting in the wings. Still, guys like Linehan, Bolderwijn, TE Kyle Efaw, and veteran WR Tyler Shoemaker will need to amplify the level of their game to fill in the holes in the passing attack.
The Broncos have a new offensive coordinator they will need to deal with, in addition to a potentially iffy right side of the O-line. People think about Boise State and they think of its high-flying offense, but its actually the D that might be truly special. With its depth and experience, they will wreak havoc on many offenses this year, relieving the pressure on offense. The escalation of the defensive power of this team should make up for any little losses felt on the other side of the ball.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Georgia should be better this year. In addition, they are playing in Atlanta. Lets not overestimate the trials of road play when it comes to Boise St., however. Many have this image of the Broncos being a terror at homeas they run wild on the blue field. It might be surprising to some that Boise has the top scoring road offense over the past two seasons.
Im not skeptical of the murmurings of a Bulldogs resurgence this season. The stars are lining up well for them. But theyre trying to get to a place where the Broncos already are. While improvement is expected, it would be fairly surprising to see a 6-7 team from last year open up like gangbusters this season. Georgia is 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games as an underdog and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games in September. Conversely, Boise St. is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 September games. Boise State minus the 3 points is my prediction.