College Football Predictions and Picks: Boise State vs. Virginia Tech Betting Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 9/6/2010
Ten years ago Boise State was a novelty act. They were that random team that dozens of stoned or drunken bettors would either chase or double down on at the end of another hazy college football Saturday. They were a sideshow, and they would have been considered an urban myth if the money people had won on them hadn’t been so real.
“Dude, there’s this team out West that plays on blue turf and scores about 60 points per game. Bet on them and the ‘over’ and it’s a gimme. I swear to god. It’s awesome.”
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And now, just a decade later, if Boise State wins its opening game it could have the inside track to a National Championship. They have since provided one of the best bowl upsets in college history and are now an offensive powerhouse and national presence. In just under three presidential terms they have transformed the face of mid-major football and are leading the charge against the mighty BCS monopoly.
And on Monday night they are hoping to take it a step further.
No. 5 Boise State takes on No. 6 Virginia Tech at 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 6 in Landover, Md. in the biggest game of the opening college football weekend. The Broncos are not only the higher ranked team but they are also the favorites, laying out 1.5 points to the Hokies. The total is set at 50.5, which is actually down from an open of 53.0.
That the Broncos are favored is only a surprise to those people that haven’t been following the sport over the last few years. They are the higher ranked team – which matters not one bit on the field, but makes a difference at the window – and because they are still a bit of a novelty the books know they’ll be a big draw on game day.
But they are also laying the points because they are the better team.
Boise State has 20 starters and a majority of its two-deep back from a team that went undefeated last year while finishing No. 4 in the country. Seven of those starters are of the three-year variety, including quarterback and Heisman candidate Kellen Moore. The Broncos own a 14-game winning streak and are just two points away from having won 27 straight games over the last two seasons. The average margin of victory during that time: 25 points.
Last year Boise State laid an ass kicking on eventual Pac-10 champion Oregon in the season opener. That was their fourth win in their last five attempts against a BCS opponent, and that includes a victory at Autzen against the Ducks back in 2008 and the Fiesta Bowl victory in 2006.
Of course, last year’s opener was played on the Smurf Turf in Boise. However, their victory was no less impressive. Boise State physically dominated the Ducks in that one and outgained the visitors by over 200 yards. I very distinctly recall that they should have won by a much larger margin (I had a play on Boise that night and had to sweat it out a bit). So I have zero doubts about Boise State’s ability to match up with the ultra-athletic Hokies. Virginia Tech wants to play a speed game. And while they may be, overall, a bit bigger than Boise State they aren’t any larger then some of the clubs the Broncos have handled over the past few seasons.
This game will be played in FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins. So while the Broncos don’t have to travel to Blacksburg I doubt anything about the crowd at this neutral site game will be neutral. This is definitely Hokie Country, and I think the fact that Virginia Tech is actually an underdog will energize the crowd even further. I’m expecting it to be around 90 percent Tech fans and they should definitely let their presence be known. The game is on grass, which is “off surface” for the turf-treading Broncos.
But neither grass nor crowd noise aren’t going to put points on the board for the Hokies. But Tyrod Taylor will. The senior is in his third year as starting quarterback for Tech. He has slowly matured from a frantic, run-first athlete into a legit dual-threat signal caller. By all accounts he has looked exceptional this summer and he’s poised for a big final year.
It also helps that experience and talent at the skill positions surrounds Taylor. Running back Ryan Williams was a first team freshman All-American last year and both of Tech’s starting wideouts are three-year starters. Tech scored 36 or more points in each of its final four games to end last season and they were held below 31 points in just three of their last 10 contests in 2009.
Both offenses are state-of-the-art, so the winner of this one will likely be the team whose defense can generate the most stops or turnovers. And despite the pedigree of Tech’s defense, led by legendary defensive coordinator Bud Foster, the Broncos seem to have an edge on this side of the ball.
Virginia Tech has just four starters back from last year’s squad and only two of them are in the front seven. Foster loves to blitz and throw all kinds of exotic pressure at the opposition, but that actually could play right into Boise’s hands. Moore has an incredible football IQ and excels at working quickly to counter pressure. The Boise offense is all about misdirection, and if Virginia Tech tries to sell out with blitzing in order to apply pressure then I think the Broncos will find more than enough opportunities to break off big plays. Look for plenty of traps, counters, and reverses in the early ground attack, as well as several screens and rollouts in the passing game plan.
The Broncos have had the entire offseason to prepare for Virginia Tech’s schemes. And vice versa. The emotion and anticipation of this game is swelling, and that should give a slight edge to the more “experienced” club. But who, exactly, is that? Virginia Tech, as a program, is much more experienced playing in and winning these types of games. Hokies coach Frank Beamer is one of the best in the business and Foster will have something good cooked up for Boise. But the Broncos have more experienced players, with a severe edge on the defensive side of the ball. They have played in and won their share of big games over the last few years and this program knows that they have a shot at something once in a lifetime. But Tech is also playing in its backyard and doesn’t want to get embarrassed.
Boise State is a stellar 17-7-1 against the college football point spread in their last 25 games and 4-1 ATS in their last five games at a neutral site. They are also 7-1 ATS in their last eight nonconference affairs. Tech covered its last five games to close last season, but the Hokies are just 4-9 ATS in their last 13 September games. It’s interesting to note that the total is diving down – considering all of the love for the offenses – which indicates to me that the sharp money is expecting more defense than the public.
According to several line tracking sites, this is one of the most bet on games of the weekend. And to this point the money is split nearly 50-50. It makes sense, given that there are any number of angles for college football predictions that seem “reliable” on this game. But in the end there will be one winner, one loser, and a whole lot of tickets being finalized one way or another.
And no matter what happens one thing is 100 percent for certain: college football is back, baby, in a BIG way. And it’s going to be a great game.
Robert Ferringo is a writer and a professional college football and NFL handicapper for Doc’s Sports. Last year he brought home +62.5 Units for his clients for NFL picks and he is regarded as one of the top totals players in the sport. He guarantees a winning football season this year or he will work for free until you turn a profit. You can sign up for his college football and NFL picks and get more information here.
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