Fresno State Bulldogs (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Boise State Broncos (9-3 SU, 9-2-1 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date/Time: Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 7:45PM EST
Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: FRES +9/BSU -9
Over/Under Total: 49
The Fresno State Bulldogs come to Albertsons Stadium on Saturday to face the Boise State Broncos for the Mountain West Conference Championship. Both teams are 9-3 and have covered the spread 8 times this season. In Fresno last week, these teams played, putting them in the unique spot to be facing the same team in consecutive weeks. Fresno was able to win their fourth in a row and eight in nine games with a 28-17 win over Boise. It was a competitive game, a back and forth battle until the fortunes went Fresnos way late. Can Boise do better on the blue field this week? Or will Fresno State continue to roll? Statistically, there wasnt much to separate the two teams, as things just went more the Bulldogs way at home.
In his first season at the helm, head coach Jeff Tedford has this Fresno State program heading in the right direction again. It was hard to tell early as they started the season 1-2, hammered by Alabama and Washington in tough road non-conference games. But once they got into Mountain West play, the wins started coming, as they have now won 8 of 9 and four straight, including the big win over Boise State. And since losing to Washington on the road, they have won all their games away from home, including a 27-3 win over a 10-win San Diego State team. They have great balance on defense, having given up an average of just over 17 points a game. And while their offense isnt explosive perhaps, its been good enough to get the Bulldogs to the top of the conference this season, something not a lot of people saw coming.
The Fresno offense isnt that explosive, but they are good enough and showed it against Boise on Saturday. Quarterback Marcus McMaryion threw for a career-high 332 yards. In his last 3 games, he has thrown 7 TD passes and is operating the aerial attack with more smoothness lately. They have a nice three-pack of backs with Jordan Mims, Josh Hokit, and Ronnie Rivers. All three can also be useful in the short-pass option. Through the air, McMaryion works well with KeeSean Johnson, who has 860 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with DaMari Scott, dangerous Jamire Jordan, and Jared Rice. McMaryion has also thrown just three picks on the season. Johnson was big against Boise last week with two TD passes.
Fresnos defense has been good this season, both against the run and the pass. The 17 points they gave up to Boise was right at their season average. Since losing to Washington, they have allowed over 21 points just once and that was just a 26-point allowance in a bizarre loss to UNLV. Up-front, they get a decent pass-rush from Tobenna Okeke and Malik Forrester. In the secondary, Jaron Bryant has been a difference-maker. In the middle, they get very active play from Jeffrey Allison and George Helmuth.
The loss to Fresno on Saturday was Boises first loss in their last 8 games. Like Fresno, some tough out-of-conference matchups led to a slow start to the season, before the Broncos kicked it into gear in MWC play. In the four games leading up to the loss to Fresno, they had scored a combined 185 points, showing that the Fresno defense is for real. Still, with road wins over San Diego State and Colorado State, a win over Wyoming, and a near-win over Washington State, Boise has been a little better against better teams. But it still didnt get them the win last week.
The Boise offense has been playing better, the loss to Fresno notwithstanding. Brett Rypien has been heating up and threw for 278 yards last week, though he had no touchdowns. A good Boise offense always flaunts a good running back and while they have struggled filling the void left by Jeremy McNichols, Alex Mattison has stepped up in recent weeks and has now surpassed 1000 yards, while adding some production as a short-pass option. Through the air, their main playmaker is Cedrick Wilson, who is now at 1142 yards. He had 7 catches for 134 yards last week and looks for another big showing this week.
The Boise defense has played with a wide range of form so far this season. They gave up a lot to Colorado State a few weeks ago, but prior to that, they gave up exactly 14 points four weeks in a row. And giving up 28 to Fresno on the road isnt even that bad, though they would like to slice some from that total at home this week. LB Leighton Vander Esch has been a major playmaker on this unit, making plays left and right. S Keko Nawahine is also a key playmaker, as he and CB Tyler Horton both have three picks on the season. Up-front, Curtis Weaver and Jabril Frazier have rushed the passer, though they didnt much on Saturday. This group looks to make more things happen this week at home.
Again, this is a strange spotfor the teams, fans, and bettors alike. Having played last week, Boise has more to prove in this spot and will need to find more answers to curtain Fresno QB Marcus McMaryion. Boise also benefits from this being at home, though Fresno has shined in that role as of late. And after the Bulldogs added a nearly-unprecedented eight wins to their previous seasons win-total, its important to take into account the inner-makeup of a team able to orchestrate such a drastic turnaround. And at the end of the day, I dont see the change in venue this week being worth 20 points. Im taking Fresno and the points.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Fresno State Bulldogs plus 9 points. Not all sportsbooks are created equal! Many are fly by night, poorly run and your loot is actually at risk. End that problem today by signing up at one of the web’s oldest and most trusted sportsbooks! Online for over 15 years, your credit card will work and you’ll also receive a 50% bonus up to $250 FREE at Bovada Sportsbook!