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Las Vegas Bowl Pick

Arizona St. vs. Boise St.

12/15/11

Arizona State and Boise State square off in the Las Vegas Bowl on Thursday December 22nd in what promises to be a night filled with offensive fireworks. Boise State opened as a -13.5 point favorite at 5 Dimes and was bet up to -14 with a hefty total of 65.

This game has a little bit of everything and is a good example of the challenges presented to handicappers this time of year. For example, Arizona State fired coach Dennis Erickson at the end of the season, after the Sun Devils dropped 4 straight to end the year, but will let him coach in this game. What impact will that have? Is it a distraction? Will the team rally around their coach and try to send him out a winner?

How about Boise State? One missed field goal away from a perfect season and a BCS bowl. Now, they end up in a minor bowl game against a 6-6 team. Will they be motivated? Will they take Arizona State lightly? Will they want to send a message to the college football world to prove they were snubbed?

If you follow us regularly, you know we were happy to see Boise State lose a game. Their schedule simply doesn't cut it. They are a very good football team. But place them in a conference like the SEC and there's no way they go 11-1. When playing a major conference schedule, there are no soft spots. Injuries mount as the season progresses, it's brutal. That's not to say Boise State can't compete with and potentially beat any team in the country on any given day.

For us, this game hinges on the mental state of the Sun Devils. If they have thrown in the towel, it could get ugly. However, if they come in motivated at the chance to have a winning season and to send Erickson off with a win, you have to give them a look. They haven't lost a game by more than 14 points all season. In fact, they lost one game by 14 points and that was to Oregon, 41-27 and that game was played at Oregon. Now, logic would suggest that if they can stay within 14 of Oregon, they can stay within 14 of Boise State.

Arizona State can't stop anyone defensively. Boise State will score a bunch. But the Boise defense hasn't exactly been tested against that weak schedule. TCU scored 36 in their 36-35 upset win. Air Force scored 26 and San Diego State 35. Again, logic suggests Brock Osweiler and the Arizona State offense, ranked 25th overall in points scored and 12th passing (Boise 11th) will score some points. They are likely the best offensive team Boise has faced all year.

We're going to grab the two touchdowns here and hope for an entertaining game as Kellen Moore and Brock Osweiler trade TD passes all night long. It's the only way to go here. Hey, we could be down 4 touchdowns late in the game and still be alive. As we always say in these types of games, the back door is always open. Arizona State +14

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