Boise State vs. Central Florida Pick ATS 9/2/21
Boise State Broncos (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Central Florida Knights (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
When: Thursday, September 2, 7 p.m.
Where: Bounce House, Orlando, Fla.
Point Spread: BOISE +5/UCF -5 (Bovada - Credit cards work there for deposits!)
Total: O/U 68.5
Two of the most successful mid-majors in the country finally get to take their shot at each other, although each will break in a new coach in this contest. Boise State has been the most successful Group of 5 teams by record over the past five years, owning a 48-13 record and never losing more than three games in a season. In that stretch, the Broncos have become a team that can play with the big boys, beating the likes of Florida State, Virginia, and Oregon State in the past five seasons.
UCF managed to do what Boise couldn’t by winning a national championship in 2017 and has been the gold standard for the Group of 5 because of it. The Knights have a 47-15 mark over the past five years and have traditionally beaten one Power 5 program a year ever since they got rolling. This time, the two powers are likely facing an elimination game as far as the New Year’s six bowls go because the loser is going to have a hard time being the best Group of 5 champion unless the winner slips up somewhere else along the way. That’s a pressure-packed situation for the season opener, but it’s nothing new for either of these two traditionally
How the Public is Betting the Boise State/Central Florida Game
If you like the Knights in this one, you might want to jump on them soon. The line has moved from -4 to -5 for Central Florida, and there are a few sportsbooks that already have the Knights at -5.5. The total has dropped slightly, coming down from 69.5 to 68.5.
Quarterback Jack Sears (lower body) is questionable.
Running back R.J. Harvey (knee) is out for the season.
When Boise State Has the Ball
Boise’s offense should be better than last season, if only because it’s hard to imagine the offense doing much worse than it did a year ago. By the Broncos’ lofty standards, Boise never got going in 2020, struggling badly in losses to BYU and San Jose State. The Broncos had no problems scoring on Utah State, Air Force, and Colorado State, but those aren’t really the kind of teams that Boise measures itself against.
This year, the Broncos have a wealth of experience at wide receiver, led by Khalil Shakir, who hauled in 52 passes for 719 yards and six scores a season ago. But the big questions are in the backfield, where Hank Bachmeier will have the job as long as he’s both healthy and productive. The Broncos’ sophomore signal-caller was adequate last season, but that was in part because the previous coaching staff wanted to limit his aggression with the football. If Bachmeier is able to be himself and make good decisions with the football, the Broncos have enough talent to put up some huge numbers. Having a healthy George Holani, who showed promise at running back in the opener last year before missing the campaign with a knee injury, would also help.
When Central Florida Has the Ball
Stopping Central Florida’s offense over the past four seasons has been like trying to hold back a tidal wave with a couple of sandbags. Dillon Gabriel picked up where McKenzie Milton left off and has been even more effective directing the Knights’ offense, as UCF scored 33 points or more in nine of 10 games last season. Incredibly, that was the Knights’ worst total of the past four seasons, as UCF has averaged 42, 43, 43, and 48 points per game over the past four campaigns.
The question with the Knights in 2021 is whether they can run the ball, as Greg McCrae and Otis Anderson are now gone, leaving the job to Bentavious Thompson. Thompson did rank second on the team in touchdowns and averaged 5.2 yards per carry, so there’s a good chance the running game will be just as solid as it was a season ago. That would be huge against Boise, which was pretty porous against the run a season ago and gave up 27.1 points per game. Having a reliable running game would also be huge for keeping the offense on the field for longer stretches; the Knights had no problem putting up points in 2020, but they often gave up too many points simply by staying on the field too long on defense.
Boise State isn’t an underdog very often, but when they are, betting the Broncos is usually a wise idea. Boise State has only been an underdog eight times in the past five seasons, and the Broncos are 6-2 SU and ATS when they’ve been the ones getting points. They also won’t have much of a problem adjusting to the time and travel, as they went through this two years ago when playing Florida State in Tallahassee.
UCF also isn’t a great option when trying to cover a small spread, as the Knights are just 2-4 ATS and have dropped two of their past six matches when they’ve tried to cover a spread of a touchdown or less. Central Florida has long been a team that dominates the teams it’s supposed to dominate but doesn’t quite get the job done for bettors when they actually have to play a quality opponent.
One thing you can count on from these teams is plenty of points. Neither team played much defense in 2020, and that’s likely to continue to an extent in this one. If the defenses continue to be like a sieve, 70 points is going to be an easy target for these teams to hit.
If the storms in the area roll through early on Thursday, it’ll be a bit cooler than expected. Right now, it’s expected to be around 81 degrees and cloudy at kickoff, with a few storms possible.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
Both teams are in great shape for big seasons, but Boise State seems to be in better shape than UCF, given that it’s got a more familiar new coaching staff than the Knights, as Gus Malzahn is a new addition to UCF, compared to former Boise assistant Andy Avalos returning as head coach.
The Knights are likely going to be a talented, fun team to watch throughout the year, but Boise seems a bit above them in this one. The Broncos have been here before, and the Knights’ defense doesn’t seem like it can slow down Boise’s experienced attack for four quarters. I’ll take Boise and the points in this one, and I think the over is also a strong play. Where you bettin’ on games this season? Make this the year you start being more efficient and saving money. Ditch your overpriced book that is socking you -110 odds on sides and totals. Replace them with a book that offers the very same bets at -105! Why pay more? Make the switch to BetAnySports! You’ll be so glad you did!