Thursday College Football Picks: BYU at Boise State Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 9/18/2012
Get used to seeing Brigham Young and Boise State on the same field as the schools, located just 380 miles apart, begin a 12-season home-and-home series Thursday night on the Broncos’ blue turf. It will be just the third meeting overall between the former Mountain West rivals, with the last coming in 2004. Of course, BYU is now an independent in football, while Boise State is leaving the MWC for the Big East in 2013.
BYU (2-1) fell out of the Associated Press Top 25 following last week’s crushing 24-21 loss to Utah in the Holy War. The Cougars had a shot to tie the game on a 51-yard yard field goal with seconds left, but it was blocked by Utah stud defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. Everyone thought the game was over, including the Utah fans in Rice-Eccles Stadium, so they stormed the field. But the clock hadn’t officially run out. Thus, the Utes were penalized 15 yards. So BYU switched kickers, but a 36-yard attempt pinged off the upright.
The Cougars were terrific defensively in holding Utah to 245 total yards. It was the ninth consecutive game that BYU held its opponent under 300 yards. But the Cougars had 12 penalties and two turnovers vs. the Utes. They also lost starting right guard Houston Reynolds for the season with a torn Achilles’.
Boise State had a bye week after its season-opening loss at Michigan State, which knocked BSU out of the Top 25. But it is back at No. 24 in the AP poll after Saturday’s 39-12 home win over Miami (Ohio). Running back D.J. Harper, who seemingly has been in Boise for about a decade, had 162 yards and three scores on 16 carries. QB Joe Southwick, trying to fill the huge shoes of Kellen Moore, struggled vs. the Spartans but was much better vs. Miami, going 24-of-31 for 309 yards, two scores and a pick. Needless to say, the BYU defense is a tad better than Miami’s. By the way, in that Miami game Boise State took the field with a losing record for the first time in seven years.
BYU at Boise State Betting Storylines
This quick of a turnaround will be unfamiliar for both teams. It’s the first time since 2008 that the Cougars have played a Saturday-Thursday back-to-back. They are 3-1 overall in those type of games under coach Bronco Mendenhall. Boise State will be playing on this short of rest for the first time since 2005. Boise State is 33-4 all-time in regular-season games played on days other than Saturday. It is 4-1 on Thursdays.
BYU is not going to let Harper win this game – the Cougars are allowing just 91.5 rushing yards per game since Mendenhall added defensive coordinator duties to his responsibilities back in 2010. In that stretch (23 games), only Alabama has been better against the run. This year, BYU ranks sixth in the nation in rushing defense (53 yards per game), ninth in total defense (241 ypg) and 20th in scoring defense (14.3 points per game). It will be up to Southwick.
Boise State has one of the top home-field advantages in the nation, going 75-3 on the blue turf this century. That’s easily the best mark in the nation. It hasn’t lost a September home game since 2001. BYU didn’t react well to playing in Utah’s hostile environment on Saturday as it had several false start penalties and two bad center-QB snaps, including one that was returned 47 yards by the Utes for a touchdown.
BYU at Boise State Betting Odds and Trends
The Broncos opened as 7.5-point favorites, according to college football odds, with the total at 48.5 on WagerWeb. BYU is 2-1 ATS this season (0-1 on road), while BSU is 1-1 ATS (1-0 at home). “Over/under” records: BYU 1-1, BSU 0-2.
BYU is 5-2 ATS in its past seven Thursday games. The Cougars have covered just two of their past 10 September games. Boise State is 4-0 ATS in its past four Thursday games. The Broncos have covered 10 of their past 12 September games. They are 1-5 ATS in their past six games after a win. The over is 4-0 in BYU’s past four road games. The under is 9-3-1 in Boise State’s past 13 nonconference games.
Thursday College Football Picks: BYU at Boise State Predictions
For sure I love the under, as Boise State leads the Mountain West and ranks 24th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 14.5 points per game. The Broncos don’t make the kind of mistakes that BYU did last week. They have just six penalties through two games and haven’t allowed a sack – the school always ranks among the national leaders in protecting the QB.
The fact that Boise State had 15 days between games No. 1 and No. 2 likely means that it was able to game-plan some for BYU – I doubt that Miami (Ohio) scared Chris Petersen and Co. much. Perhaps that explains why BSU trailed 9-8 late in the second quarter. Also, remember that BYU players couldn’t do team activities/practice on Sunday because of the school’s Mormon beliefs. So that’s one fewer day of practice. I really wish this line was at seven and probably would hold off to see if it drops there – there’s really no difference between 7.5 and, say, 8. But go Boise State and the under.
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