2014 Fiesta Bowl Picks: Arizona vs. Boise State Odds and Expert Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 12/15/2014
Wednesday, Dec. 31, 4 p.m. ET - University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
Outside of the playoff games, there is no bowl game this year that I am more excited about than the Fiesta Bowl. It's not the best matchup, but it has the best chance to be thrilling. Boise State has a long history of thrilling and often surprising bowl performances. They shine in December and January. Arizona is a fearless squad who overachieved their way into the Pac-12 Championship Game. They are far from perfect, but they have exciting players on both sides of the ball and a truly fearless offensive coach. There is little chance that this one is going to be dull. It will be a heck of a way to say goodbye to the year, so sit back, have a couple of drinks while watching, and use this as the perfect warmup for your party later in the night.
Fiesta Bowl: Arizona vs. Boise State Storylines
Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright has been lauded this year. He recently claimed the Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the top defensive player in the country - an award he now shares with guys like Warren Sapp, Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey, Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Ndamukong Suh and others. While he is unquestionably impressive, it would be a mistake to assume that his greatness means that he plays on a great defense. In fact, they are far from great - they rank 102nd in the country in total yards allowed and a dismal 121st in passing yards. It doesn't mean that they give up a ton of points in every game, but they are unquestionably vulnerable.
Boise State's defense ranks better statistically, but there are a couple reasons for concern. First, Ole Miss was the only ranked team that Boise State faced, and the Rebels scored 35 points. Outside of that they played a fairly weak schedule, so they weren't tested as much as other teams - and not as much as they will likely be by Arizona. Second, some teams that aren't nearly as strong as Arizona offensively have scored a lot of points - Nevada scored 46 and New Mexico tallied 49, for example. Arizona redshirt freshman QB Anu Solomon has been excellent this year - 3,458 yards with 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. It's not hard imagining him having a good day against these Broncos. The potential for scoring in this one has me salivating.
Arizona is a solid team when it comes to turnover margin - in the top quarter of teams in the country. That could be a big factor here. When Boise State has lost games this year it has largely been because they have turned the ball over excessively. When they lost to Ole Miss in their opener, QB Grant Hedrick threw four picks. That loss was fairly acceptable, but the later loss to Air Force was a bit of a disaster. The two quarterbacks who played threw five interceptions, and two more fumbles were lost. Despite all of that, the Broncos lost only 28-14, so it was obviously a very winnable game for them if they had taken care of business. If Arizona can win the turnover battle then they will be in good shape.
Fiesta Bowl: Arizona vs. Boise State Betting Odds and Trends
The game opened with Arizona favored by 4.5 points. About two-thirds of bettors have backed the Wildcats, yet the line has dropped all of the way to the key number of three points. That's a clear sign that the sharp money has been hitting the Broncos and doing so aggressively. The total opened high at 68.5, and is now even higher at 69.5.
The Broncos are 0-4 ATS in their last four games played in December and 1-4 ATS in their last five games against the Pac-12. Arizona is 1-8 ATS in their last nine games played on grass and 1-5 ATS in their last six games played in December. The Wildcats are 6-14 ATS in their last 20 against teams with winning records.
2014 Fiesta Bowl Picks: Arizona vs. Boise State Expert Betting Predictions
When I first saw this line, I assumed that it was going to climb. If it had settled at six points or so then this was going to be a reasonably tough game to pick. At three points, though, I have no issues. Arizona has been tested by a tougher schedule, has better coaching, and I like their quarterback more. Only giving up a field goal makes the Wildcats attractive and the clear pick here.
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