Boise State’s Bryan Harsin on BYU quarterback, Bronco defense and Brett Rypien
For two programs that broke onto the national scene with dynamic offenses in the high-scoring WAC, Boise State and BYU have played a series of surprisingly low-scoring affairs.
Only once have both teams scored 30 points in the eight previous meetings — a 55-30 Boise State win in 2014.
The last three years, the teams have combined for 59, 55 and 31 points.
Las Vegas oddsmakers expect more of the same when they meet at 8:15 p.m. Saturday at Albertsons Stadium (ESPN2). The over/under is just 55 points. Boise State (6-2) is favored to win by 13 points. The Broncos are 2-4 against the spread in the current series with the Cougars, which began in 2012.
This week’s predictions
My pick (6-2 straight up, 3-5 ATS): Take out that win against Wisconsin, and there’d be nothing to like about BYU’s resume coming into this game. The Cougars (4-4) have scored 30 points against an FBS team just once — and that was against Hawaii. The offense averages a meager 5.05 yards per play, which ranks 112th nationally. The defense is solid but will face a red-hot Boise State QB Brett Rypien, who since halftime of the Nevada game has been fantastic. He’s up to 11th nationally in pass efficiency and tied for eighth in passing touchdowns. He’ll stay hot. Boise State 34, BYU 20
BYU perspective, from Jared Lloyd of the Daily Herald (opponent view is 7-1, 4-4): This BYU football team is playing so many young players that its fortunes have been wildly inconsistent. This is a Cougar team that has shown flashes of brilliance but has undermined those with costly errors. BYU hasn’t been able to convert third downs on offense or to stop opponents who can attack both on the ground and through the air. Both of those factors don’t bode well for the Cougars as they try to get their first win ever at Albertsons Stadium. Boise State 37, BYU 17
Bonus BYU perspective, from Brandon Gurney of the Deseret News: The only consistent thing about BYU this year has been its inconsistency, which makes it a fool’s errand to predict how the team will perform any given week. The team has shown better on the road than at home over the past two years and usually comes off losses with improved form. That said, BYU has never beaten Boise State at Albertsons Stadium and that doesn’t look to change this year. Boise State 31, BYU 16
Betting expert Lee Sterling of Paramount Sports, who appears Thursdays on KTIK (6-2, 4-4): “Rypien, so tough to figure. He can look great some weeks and awful the next. ... He’s too up and down for me. When you think he’s in a groove, poof, it goes up in smoke. BYU, 4-4, I think you’re going to get their best effort. ... This is where they do their best work. As a road underdog, they’re 7-3 (against the spread).” Boise State 27, BYU 21
College football spotlight
National game of the week — No. 1 Alabama (-15) at No. 3 LSU, 6 p.m. Saturday, CBS: The Tigers are much more battle-tested than the Crimson Tide. They’ll give Tua Mania a scare. Alabama 27, LSU 24
Mountain West game of the week — Air Force at Army (-7), 10 a.m. Saturday, CBS Sports Network: The Mountain West title race is down to four teams, and none of them are playing a fellow contender. So check out Air Force against a good Army team. Army 31, Air Force 17
Pac-12 game of the week — California at No. 8 Washington State (-10), 8:45 p.m. Saturday, ESPN: Can the Cougars handle the hype? Can the Bears repeat last week’s stunning upset of Washington? Washington State 31, California 13
Chadd Cripe is the Idaho Statesman’s sports columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @chaddcripe on Twitter.