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ESPN Thursday Night
Boise State hosts BYU in this weeks Thursday Night ESPN College Football action. The game opened Boise State -7 at 5 Dimes Sportsbook and has nudged a half point to -7.5 as of Monday morning when this is being written. The early betting trends at the worlds largest sportsbook, sportsbook.ag favor Boise State as 85% of the early action is on the Broncos. Also note, the first book on the planet to post lines each week is betonline. Their openers are posted a good 3 hours before any other book, anywhere. They opened Boise State -4.5!
BYU was set to come into this game with a 3-0 record, ready to upset a ranked opponent in Boise State (currently No. 24 in the AP Poll). Unfortunately, things didn't go so easy for them losing as road favorites last weekend to Utah, 24-21. While they didn't play bad, the Cougars should have won actually, missing two field goal chances late in the game. A 51-yarder was blocked, but after the crowd rushed prematurely onto the field, they got another chance and missed a 36-yarder. Unlucky, one would say.
No matter, BYU was still able to able to hold the Utes to just 49 yards rushing on 35 carries which is a positive. That run defense will be needed against Boise State after D.J. Harper went for 162 yards last weekend on the ground on just 16 carries. He finished with four of the team's total five TDs (three on the ground) in the game.
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In his first year as a starter, BSU QB Joe Southwick looked better, albeit against a lesser opponent in Miami (OH), throwing for 304 yards and two TDs. He struggled all game vs. Michigan State in the opening week of games throwing for 169 yards with less than a 50% completion rate and an interception. Harper also only had eight rushing yards against the Spartans which is another reason the offense was only able to muster six points for them in the game.
Each team is led by their defense, and it should turn out to be a rather low-scoring game, much like the BYU-Utah and BSU-MSU games. The key for BYU will be to limit turnovers and be able to get some kind of running game going. The Cougars were okay against Utah, going for 106 total rushing yards, but Riley Nelson also threw an interception which led to points for Utah in the third quarter. Cody Hoffman and Kaneakua Friel continue to be Nelson's main targets in the passing game. The two have combined for 476 of 816 team yards and six of the team's seven receiving TDs. If the Broncos know what's good for them, they will mark these two guys very closely.
Boise State is very much in the same area as BYU is. If Harper can move the ball on the ground, Southwick can't turn it over if they want to don't want this came going down to the wire.
Generally at home, Boise State is heavily favored. The only problem is that they are usually favored by too much. They are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight home games. BSU is usually favored for a reason though, and that can be seen in their 83-3 record at home since the 1999 season. That is just three losses at home since the 1999 season! BYU definitely has their work cut out for them.
The good news for the Cougars is that they are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games and 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall. However, those numbers are kind of deceiving as those two losses against the spread have come in their last two games.
BYU has given every indication that it's going to be a competitive football team this year, while, from our viewpoint, Boise State is down a notch. This looks to us like a close one, decided late, in which case, we'll grab the +7.5 while we can. BYU +7.5
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