Virginia Cavaliers (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Boise State Broncos (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date/Time: Friday, September 22, 2017 at 8PM EST
Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
TV: ESPN 2
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UVA +13/BSU -13
Over/Under Total: 51
On Friday from Albertsons Stadium on the blue-field, the Virginia Cavaliers come to Idaho to face the Boise State Broncos in week 4 action. The Cavaliers were able to push their record to 2-1 on Saturday with a 38-18 win over UConn, with a lot of offensive production along the way. Boise also prevailed last week, notching a 28-14 Thursday win over New Mexico in MWC action. It was a necessary development for a Boise team that was still recovering from an epic collapse the previous week to Washington State. Having 8 days until this game should aid a Boise bunch that has been run a little ragged already in the young college football season.
This is not an easy road spot for Virginia, in a faraway location out of conference. This is their first road game of the season and to their credit, the Bronco Mendenhall-led Cavaliers have already equaled their win total from last season. The win over Connecticut is not earth-shattering perhaps, but the offense showed a lot of energy and it looks like theyre at least ready to take a small step forward after a rough first season under their new coach, who at BYU, earned some experience against Boise.
Weve seen some better overall form from Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert this season, especially on Saturday. The senior set a school passing record with 455 yards, along with three touchdown passes. Getting this offense moving is a big development for anyone who saw Virginia labor so badly on this side of the ball last season. The ground-game also sprung to life with Jordan Ellis and Olamide Zaccheaus adding some nice work on the ground, while Zaccheaus also had 122 yards through the air with a TD score. They have a nice 1-2 punch at receiver with Doni Dowling and Andre Levrone, who were both over 100 yards on Saturday. Still, wins over William & Mary and Connecticut, which sandwich a 17-point loss at home to Indiana isnt grounds for a parade. Its fair to say, however, that theyre better than last season.
The Virginia defense is not the most-bankable group, but they have some things going for it. Safety Quin Blanding and LB Micah Kiser are a top tackling duo in the ACC. If anything, they are able to at least make up for some of the shortcomings around them on the defense. Kiser registered a pair of sacks on Saturday with freshman safety Brenton Nelson offering promise through the first few games. He had a pick against the Huskies. They will be pressed this week in their first road game and well see how well they hold up. A lot depends on Boise. Against the offense that has trouble getting into high-gear, this defense could thrive in spots. But if Boise hits its stride in this game, it could get ugly.
Things have been slow to click for the Broncos thus far in the season. The collapse against Washington State where they blew a huge lead late was awful and after that draining game, they had to face New Mexico on the short week and it showed. The quarterback situation is a bit muddled. Dual-threat Montell Cozart had been getting worked into the rotation and took over as a starter when Brett Rypien went down with a head injury to the Cougars the previous week. One of Rypiens best-ever games came against this very Cavaliers team in 2015. Cozart can run the ball well and connected with versatile tight end Jake Roh for two TD passes. But Cozart was hardly impressive enough to usurp Rypien should he be ready to return this week. This group still has talent and can put up points, but the void of Jeremy McNichols is really being felt as finding a go-to running back has proven to be problematic. Alexander Mattison and Ryan Wolpin just cant fill that void.
Even more erratic has been the Boise State defense, going from rigid to downright exploitable without warning. They completely collapsed against Washington State, but held firm against the potent New Mexico run-game. The potential loss of Tyson Moa after an arrest could hurt, but there are good players on this side of the ball. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is a legit playmaker and had a pick against the Lobos. Guys like Tyson Maeva and Reid Harrison-Ducros are also playmakers, with good safety play from Cameron Hartsfield and Kekoa Nawahine. They might not shine consistently against the better teams they play and the WSU collapse still looms large. Against the easier teams they face, however, they should be in pretty good shape.
While it is a Friday game, Boise St. last played on Thursday, so the full week and a day of rest should help after they expended a lot of energy in the first three weeks of the season. Virginia is up against it in a tough road spot, a little out of their element in Idaho. Well see if Virginia can take whatever progress theyve shown on both sides of the ball and have it transfer to this setting. I just see a better effort from Boise State, as they pull away late for the win and cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Boise State Broncos minus 13 points. Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at a sportsbook where it WILL work for deposits and take advantage of their 100% signup bonus on your first deposit up to $100! (Example: Deposit $100 and they’ll give you an extra $100 FREE!) Find this great offer at Intertops Sportsbook.