|BYU Odds||-4.5 [BET NOW]|
|Boise State Odds||+4.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-160 / +135 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||62.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Friday, 9:45 p.m. ET|
It’s been 30 years since BYU entered a regular-season game with legitimate national championship aspirations. Led by Ty Detmer, the Cougars opened the 1990 season with four straight wins, including an upset of defending national champion Miami in Provo. The Cougars rose to No. 4 in the national polls but fell to Oregon in Eugene by 16 points in late September. They have been trying to claw their way back to the top of the mountain ever since.
On Friday night in Boise, Brigham Young finds itself in unfamiliar territory. If it wins, — and wins decisively — the Cougars have a compelling argument for their inclusion in the College Football Playoff committee’s top four when it announces the first rankings on Nov. 24.
Boise State, meanwhile, can catapult into the top 15 if it can defend its home field against the undefeated Cougars. A win like this would give BSU a puncher’s chance to secure the Group of Five’s automatic bid to a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Will the stakes elicit tight play from the Broncos and Cougars, or should we strap in for a thrilling shootout? The numbers bear out the latter on the Smurf Turf in Idaho’s capital city.
Boise State Broncos
Boise State proved last week it can move the ball up and down the field with backup quarterback Jack Sears leading the way. The USC graduate transfer and former four-star recruit is the highest-rated quarterback to ever start a game for the Broncos.
Against Air Force, he wasted little time — 10 seconds to be precise — proving that he wasn’t just another highly-touted recruit who couldn’t hack it. On the very first play of his first start for the Broncos, he connected on a deep shot (43 air yards) to CT Thomas. This would become a theme throughout the game, as Sears gave an already highly efficient offense an explosive element that has been missing since the Kellen Moore days.
When Bryan Harsin took over in 2014, the former Boise offensive coordinator doubled down on some of the trademark characteristics of the Boise State offensive brand. Tons of formations, pre-snap motion, tight end/H-Back involvement, and misdirection led to 8.3 average yards per attempt (YPA) between 2014 and 2019. This put the Broncos right around 20th in the country on an annual basis.
This season, something is different. Through two games, Boise’s YPA is up to 10.8 (fifth), and it’s not sacrificing efficiency for big plays. The Broncos rank top-10 nationally in Finishing Drives, red zone efficiency, completion percentage and interception rate. Beyond the stats, it’s also plain to see that Sears is a threat to beat the defense deep, and the Boise staff is setting him up with aggressive play calls.
If Sears indeed gets the starting nod for the second straight week, I anticipate another strong offensive performance against a BYU defense that allowed 310 passing yards against Houston three weeks ago.
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Boise State’s air prowess has been on full display through two games, but Zach Wilson’s aerial work has been captivating audiences for months. Wilson has been a revelation for the Cougars, posting the following numbers:
- 86.3 Total QBR (ninth)
- 198.7 QB Rating (seventh)
- 74.6 Competition % (sixth)
- 11.2 YPA (fifth)
- 19:2 TD-INT Ratio
Despite the fact that the Cougars don’t push tempo (80th in Pace), they’re averaging 44.4 points per game.
When this offensive output is paired with an impressive defensive Havoc rating (18.16%, 28th), it’s easy to envision a high-scoring affair. Digging deeper into BYU’s play this season, the offensive stats skew even higher in the first 30 minutes. The Cougars are averaging 26 points in the first half this season, which has pushed six of their seven games over the first-half total. The first-half over has hit in both of Boise State’s games as well, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this game gets off to a fast start.
Betting Analysis & Pick
With mild temperatures and calm wind conditions forecasted for this ranked battle at Albertsons Stadium, the stage is set for a track meet. Both offenses have the potential to score in the 40s if everything is clicking, which is why the total is a safer play than a side in this spot. I do lean BYU, tailing the big money that has been placed on the Cougars in the past 48 hours. As of publication, 75% of the handle on this matchup is BYU money.
Pick: Over 61 / BYU-2.5 (Lean)