For some Boise State football fans, every week is a chance to bet on the Broncos.
But for many, there are only a select few chances — and this week presents one of them.
The Broncos (3-2) play Saturday at Nevada (3-3), the program’s first trip to Reno in four years. That means Bronco fans making the trip can place a bet legally on the blue and orange before the game at one of the many casinos that take sports bets.
That opportunity also exists when the Broncos play at UNLV, another once-every-four-years destination that comes back around in 2019, or in the Las Vegas Bowl.
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Of course, many people find other ways to wager on the Broncos — whether through illegal bookmakers, off-shore gambling sites or various football pool formats. Even off-shore sites and pools are legal gray areas in Idaho, where the definition of gambling includes “risking any money, credit, deposit or other thing of value for gain contingent in whole or in part upon ... the happening or outcome of an event, including a sporting event.”
And none of that is likely to change despite the Supreme Court’s much-ballyhooed decision earlier this year to scrap the federal ban on most sports betting outside the state of Nevada. New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia and Mississippi have since legalized sports betting — with Gov. Phil Murphy placing the first legal bet in New Jersey. Many other states are exploring the idea, and a tribal casino in New Mexico recently jumped on board.
But highly conservative Idaho is unlikely to join the sports-betting movement anytime soon — even as betting lines have become part of the national conversation across all media platforms that cover sports. The gambling prohibition is in the state Constitution (Article III, Section 20). The state reached an agreement in 2016 to end paid daily fantasy games in Idaho because those contests were considered gambling.
So if it’s legal betting on the Broncos you want, enjoy Reno this week.
Boise State is favored by 17 points. The over/under for total points is 60.5. Boise State is 3-2 against the spread (2-1 on the road). Nevada is 2-4 (1-2 at home). The teams have combined for six overs and five unders, so there isn’t a helpful trend there.
My pick (3-2 straight up, 2-3 ATS): Nevada’s defense has improved just in time for Boise State’s visit, and the Wolf Pack utilize the 3-3-5 scheme that has been problematic for the Broncos. The answer against that scheme generally is to run the ball successfully, but the Broncos haven’t done that this season. The Wolf Pack held Air Force to 25 points and Fresno State to 21 points the past two games after surrendering 98 points in the previous two games against Toledo and Oregon State. Offensively, Nevada’s Air Raid attack should be able to score points if quarterback Ty Gangi returns from injury. It’s all a bad combination for betting the favorite — except for this: Boise State, a strong road team in recent years (15-5 ATS on the road with QB Brett Rypien in the lineup), goes to Reno ticked after a home loss to San Diego State. Boise State 45, Nevada 20
Nevada perspective, from Duke Ritenhouse of the Reno Gazette Journal (opponent view is 4-1, 2-3): This is a much-improved Nevada team from the edition that started 0-5 a year ago, but the Broncos still represent a step up in class for the Wolf Pack. The biggest difference for Nevada has been the huge leaps made by the defense, which has played two outstanding games in a row — a win at Air Force, a loss to Fresno State — and is the type of confident, poised unit that hasn’t been seen in recent seasons. The questions for the Wolf Pack come on the offensive side, where the quarterback has not been decided, the offensive line is finally settling into shape and the running game is led by a freshman. The big question, of course, is who will direct the Air Raid offense. Backup Cristian Solano was effective at times last week in place of injured starter Ty Gangi, but Nevada had trouble sustaining drives (4-of-18 on third downs) and scored only three points. Gangi (thigh contusion) practiced this week, but Nevada has not named a starter for the Boise State game. Whoever does get the call will have to keep the chains moving; the Nevada defense can’t be asked to slow down Brett Rypien and Alexander Mattison forever. Boise State 31, Nevada 21
Betting expert Lee Sterling of Paramount Sports, who appears Thursdays on KTIK (3-2, 4-1): “Boise is one of the best plays historically after a loss. I think their offensive line ... they’re going to play with an edge here. Give me the better program here, something to prove here.” Boise State 48, Nevada 21
College football spotlight
National game of the week — No. 2 Georgia (-7.5) at No. 13 LSU, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS: The untested but talented Bulldogs will have to fight through the Tigers, who already have played three Top 25 teams. Georgia 24, LSU 20
Mountain West game of the week — Air Force at San Diego State (-11), 7 p.m. Friday, CBS Sports Network: Two teams coming off emotional wins — Air Force vs. Navy and San Diego State vs. Boise State. It’ll be a grinder. San Diego State 23, Air Force 17
Pac-12 game of the week — No. 7 Washington (-3) at No. 17 Oregon, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC: The Huskies haven’t quite clicked this season. The Ducks are hot. Oregon 31, Washington 30
Chadd Cripe is the Idaho Statesman’s sports columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @chaddcripe on Twitter.