Note: I’m splitting my weekly pregame column into two parts this week. Below is my prediction. Here is the main column, about Boise State’s quarterback situation.
The Boise State football team lost 28-17 on Saturday at Fresno State.
The Broncos are favored by 9 1/2 points over the Bulldogs this Saturday in the Mountain West championship game at Albertsons Stadium.
That means Las Vegas oddsmakers expect a 20-point change in the outcome. The only significant difference? The game will be played in Boise instead of Fresno.
At first glance, that seems nutty.
Upon further review, it seems even nuttier.
First of all, home-field advantage in college football generally is considered an advantage of two to three points. If you take three points away from Fresno State’s performance last week and give them to Boise State, that’s still a five-point edge for Fresno State. And Boise State has been overvalued as a home team by oddsmakers for a couple years (3-12 ATS in the past 15 home games).
Second, there was nothing fluky about Fresno State’s win. The Bulldogs never trailed, they outgained the Broncos 431-401, they held the Broncos to 107 rushing yards and neither team committed a turnover.
According to Football Study Hall, Boise State’s win expectancy based on key stats from that game was 13 percent. The Broncos got beat — period.
So will the Broncos — who were 7-point favorites last week — suddenly dominate the Bulldogs this week? Not likely.
But will they win? I’m saying yes.
I go back to the first 25 minutes of last week’s game. Boise State got the ball four times. Each time, the Broncos crossed the Bulldogs’ 40-yard line. The results: touchdown, missed field goal, failed sneak on fourth-and-a-foot, and a punt. The punt came after a 26-yard catch to the 14-yard line was wiped out by a 15-yard illegal block. Points on any of those last three drives would have given the Broncos the lead and perhaps changed the flow of the game.
I expect the Broncos to do a better job finishing their drives this week and get at least one turnover — just enough to get the job done.
Boise State 27, Fresno State 24
• • •
Out of curiosity, I added up my results for the season:
Straight up: 9-3, same as Boise State. I picked the Broncos to beat Fresno State and Virginia and to lose vs. San Diego State.
Against the spread: 6-6. I was on a nice roll of 5-1 ATS going into the Fresno State game but was way off in that one.
Mountain West Football Championship
When: 5:45 p.m. Saturday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)
TV: ESPN (Adam Amin, Dusty Dvoracek, Molly McGrath)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 9-3, 7-1; Fresno State 9-3, 7-1 (Fresno State beat Boise State 28-17 last Saturday in Fresno)
Series: Boise State leads 13-6
Vegas line: Boise State by 9 1/2
Kickoff weather: Low 40s, rain
Tickets: $40 in main stadium and south end zone, $20 in north end zone; student tickets free; student guest tickets $9. Available at BroncoSports.com/tickets, 208-426-4737 or at the Athletic Ticket Office on the west side of Albertsons Stadium. Boise State reported 20,500 tickets out on Thursday morning.