Fresno State Bulldogs (6-6 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. Boise State Broncos (10-2 SU, 7-5 ATS)
College Football Week 15
Date and Time: Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 10:00PM EST
Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
by Scott, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: FRES +19.5/BSU -19.5
Over/Under Total: Off
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On Saturday, the Fresno State Bulldogs come into Albertsons Stadium to face the Boise State Broncos in the Mountain West Conference championship game. Boise State will be in the friendly confines of their blue-turf home stadium on the heels of 7 straight wins and a very successful 10-win season. Fresno State won the West division, despite a 6-6 overall record. They are big 19.5-point underdogs in this conference title game.
Under first-year coach Bryan Harsin, the Broncos have gotten back to their winning ways and while not making the national splash they did several seasons ago, they are clearly the class of the Mountain West. On Saturday, they continued their sizzling form with a 50-19 win over Utah State. They lost their season opener against Ole Miss and several weeks later, they lost at Air Force. Other than that, its been all wins and a conference record of 7-1. Since losing to Air Force, Boise State has scored 303 points in their last 7 games. They are the 9th top-scoring offense in the nation and as of late, have really stepped in up a notch.
At 6-6, there is only so much you can say about Fresno State. But after 3 games, it looked like 2014 would be a disaster. They were 0-3 and had been outscored 166-59. Since then, they won three in a row, lost three in a row, then won three in a row, including a 28-21 win over Hawaii. Its been a strange season–a collection of 3-game winning and losing streaks. At times, Fresno has looked ragged and quite mediocre. At their best, theyre a pretty scrappy team that can take opponents by surprise.
On October 17, these teams met on this same field, with Boise State taking a 37-27 win. The game was tied going into the 4th quarter, before Boise State pulled away late. The Broncos relied heavily on RB Jay Ajayi, who ran for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ajayi enters this game with 1619 yards and a massive 24 TD runs. Against Utah State on Saturday, Ajayi ran for 5 touchdowns and had 229 yards on the ground. He also has 4 TD catches and will be the most dangerous weapon on the field again this week. The Bulldogs didnt do a very good job of stopping him the first time around and Ajayi should be a big factor in this game.
Fresno State had some success in the first game and was in it until late. That bodes pretty well for a team getting nearly 20 points. They counter with RB Marteze Waller, who has 1269 yards and 11 TD runs. He had 164 yards against Boise the first time around and looks forward to another big game. QB Brian Burrell has been decent, though hes been a major comedown from Derek Carr. He has thrown for 21 touchdowns and run for 3 more. Along with Waller, they have tough Josh Quezada picking up the hard yardage. And they have a very good wide receiver in Josh Harper, who has 76 catches.
For the Broncos, they have been boosted by the excellent 2014 season of QB Grant Hedrick. who is really blossoming in this offense. He is completing nearly 72% of his passes and while he was prone to throwing picks at points this season, he has been adept at moving this offense and making this team its most-dangerous since the glory days of Kellen Moore. With nearly 500 yards on the ground with 6 touchdowns, hes a versatile threat. He has a lot of weapons at his disposal in Thomas Sperbeck and Shane Williams-Rhodes. Ajayi has also caught 45 balls, while Jake Roh also chips in with timely production. Its a versatile group of differently-talented playmakers.
Fresno has done well considering they have a defense that fails to shine in any area. They are 102nd against the pass and 107th against the run. Their D is ranked 115th in the nation. They are allowing an average of 33 points per game, while scoring an average of just 29.2 per game. But in all fairness, those numbers were inflated by their first three games against opposition where they were out of their element. They have been better against conference opponents. But by losing to teams like UNLV and Wyoming, two teams with a combined record of 6-19, it becomes obvious why they are such big underdogs heading into this game.
After beating this team by just ten points, some may be taken aback that the spread is nearly double that margin for the conference title game. Boise State has been playing better and is more in-sync than they were a few months ago. And Fresno has been mostly pretty shabby on the road. So it would hardly register as much of a surprise if Boise State laid a beating on Fresno. But I look for a gutsy Fresno squad to hang in there much as they did in the first game, at least well enough to cover the big number.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Fresno State Bulldogs plus 19.5 points.