2013 Hawaii Bowl Picks: Boise State vs. Oregon State Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 12/19/2013
While Santa is loading up his sleigh and starting on one heck of a road trip, the Beavers and Broncos will be clashing in sunny Hawaii. It certainly isn’t the best bowl game of the season — and given the Dec. 24 date, there is no reason to expect it would be — but there are plenty of storylines to make this one an interesting handicapping puzzle.
You can’t exactly call these two programs fierce rivals — or even teams that are particularly interesting to each other. They are just 500 miles apart, though, and this will be their sixth meeting of the last decade, so there is more interest here than there could be with a lot of matchups. From an outside perspective it is actually an interesting matchup because Boise State has been far more successful lately than their major-conference opponent, and there is really no reason that should be the case.
Hawaii Bowl Boise State vs. Oregon State Betting Storylines
Chris Petersen has been the face of the Broncos, and despite much attention from bigger programs it never seemed like he would leave Boise. Finally, though, the timing was right earlier this month, and Petersen took a very lucrative offer from Washington. It’s a good fit for him, but it puts Boise State into transition heading into this game. Linebackers coach Bob Gregory will be the interim head coach for this bowl game — their first new head man in 104 games and eight years. Petersen’s staff has largely stayed in place to coach the game as well. While these situations can always be challenging for teams in bowl games, there is a better-than-normal chance that things will be fine here and that the team will remain focused and be prepared. The biggest reason for that is that the school moved quickly to maintain stability and replace Petersen quickly and effectively. Bryan Harsin, a former Boise State assistant and most recently the head coach at Arkansas State, has been named head coach. He has started to assemble his staff, and it is heavy on former Boise State coaches and players. The team is in good hands, and they know it. Harsin isn’t coaching this game, but he is visible on campus, and players will be playing to impress him and set themselves up for next year.
It was as if the Beavers played two seasons this year. Over the first half they were mostly brilliant. They rebounded from a mystifying opening loss to Eastern Washington to win six straight and score points in bulk. But then they took the last five off, losing all five games and only rarely being competitive. Their best game over that stretch came in the Civil War when they lost to Oregon by a single point. It is no coincidence that their struggles came as their conference schedule got much tougher — besides Oregon they lost to Stanford, USC, Arizona State and Washington. The offense really struggled when they were losing. The pass-heavy attack averaged 145 fewer yards and nearly three fewer touchdowns per game when they were playing better teams. While much has been written about the collapse of this team and what it means for their mental state, the bigger issue to me is that it shows us that the team just isn’t very good. They are good enough to beat underwhelming teams, but when they face a real test they just aren’t deep or talented enough to be up for it.
Despite the late struggles of the Beavers, this is a serious mismatch at QB. Oregon State junior QB Sean Mannion is an aerial assassin. He threw for more than 4,400 yards with 36 touchdowns and just 14 picks. He was far less effective in his final five games, but he still averaged more than 280 yards per game over that stretch. He can throw the ball very well, and he is given every opportunity to do so in this offense. The Broncos have just the 93rd-ranked defense in the country against the pass, and they were vulnerable against big passers — Derek Carr went for 460 yards and four touchdowns in Boise State’s loss to Fresno State. Mannion should have a good day. The same can’t necessarily be said for whoever starts for Boise State. We don’t even know who we will see. Joe Southwick was the starter for much of the season, but he missed four games late in the year with a broken ankle. He returned for the season finale, but he only played for one drive, which is a clear sign he wasn’t completely healthy. Grant Hedrick took over when Southwick was out, and he will start if Southwick isn’t ready. Neither guy is incompetent or particularly inspiring. If it turns into a shootout — if Oregon State can establish themselves early, in other words — then the Broncos are going to have issues.
Hawaii Bowl Boise State vs. Oregon State Odds and Betting Trends
We have seen a major swing in the odds with this one. Boise State opened as 2.5-point favorites. Thanks to the departure of Petersen, though, Oregon State is now favored by a full field goal. The public is overwhelmingly on the Broncos, with more than 80 percent of bets coming in on them. The total opened at 65 and has fallen slightly to 64.
The Broncos are 6-1 ATS in their last seven neutral-site games. Oregon State is 0-4 ATS in their last four nonconference games. Boise State is 3-1-1 ATS in the last five meetings between the teams. Oregon State has gone “over” the total is each of their last four neutral-site games.
Hawaii Bowl Picks: Boise State vs. Oregon State Betting Predictions
I have gone back and forth on this one. Oregon State is going to be able to throw the ball and score some points. The Broncos are reasonably competent offensively, though, and Oregon State doesn’t exactly present a steel wall defensively. The loss of Petersen is a big story, but the smooth transition and the fact that the assistants are in place means that, to me, that is an angle that is easy for bettors to overcompensate for. Ultimately, this is a close game, and I thought that the opening line was quite accurate. That means that the big move has created some value and the Broncos have become an attractive play. No matter what, though, this should be a very fun game to watch as we wait for the big guy to come down the chimney.
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