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Boise State

vs.

Fresno State

Friday Night

Free College

Football Pick

9/19/13

This is the game that coaches talk about in the offseason; this is the one that truly matters for both teams. With both schools set as favorites in their respective divisions in the MWC, we could see a rematch of the two at the end of the year in the conference championship game. Whoever wins this one will get the confidence that they can win in the next meeting.

Boise State has had the edge in this matchup, winning the last seven meetings and covering in all of them. Of course, this may be the best team Fresno State has fielded in quite some time coming off a 9-4 season and hoping for more in 2013. The last time the Bulldogs were favorites in this matchup was 2005, and that was also the last time they won and covered. This year, they are -4 point favorites at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.

As both squads have a lot of returning players, it's useful to look at last year's matchup in which the Broncos won 20-10. BSU used its ground game to control the tempo after getting out to a 17-0 first-half lead. They rushed for 215 yards, while the Bulldogs could only muster 56 total rushing yards as a team. Even with an improved Joe Southwick at quarterback, Boise State will likely lean heavily on running back Jay Ajayi in this one.

Southwick may be coming off one of his best games ever as a QB, completing 27-of-29 passes for 287 yards and 53 rushing yards against Air Force last weekend, so you can't forget about him. It's also worth noting that Ajayi ran for 125 yards and four TDs in that game. However, things haven't gone that well all season for the Broncos. In their first road game of the season, they were dominated by Washington, 38-6. Boise State is a much different team playing at home on the blue turf. If this game were in Boise, the Broncos would likely be favorites.

Instead, it's not and the Bulldogs get to play at home where they haven't lost since 2011. Led by Derek Carr at the helm, this team can score with anyone. In their first game of the season, Carr exploded for five touchdowns on 52-of-73 passing in a 52-51 overtime win over Rutgers. With all that passing, it also means the Bulldogs are a poor rushing team. Through two games, their best rusher has just 94 yards on 25 carries. If they were to lose against Boise State, that would likely be the reason. It's tough to beat good teams without any semblance of a running game. Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse are great out wide, but will they be enough?

There's no doubt this game will come down to the wire, as Boise State should be able to move the ball against a perennial disappointing defense. This year's total will likely surpass last year's 30 points, but it may come down to a defensive stop in the fourth quarter. Fresno State hasn't made many defensive stops in the last few years, which is why it's still a tentative Top 25 squad.

Boise State is 1-5 ATS in its last six games overall and just 3-12 ATS in its last 15 conference games. Fresno State has covered in five straight conference games and is 6-2 ATS in its last eight home games. The favorite has covered in 11 straight meetings between these teams, but 10 of those have been from the Broncos. However, none of those included a senior Derek Carr at quarterback, playing in one of the biggest games of his college career.

Typically, our model requires 4 games of data in order to use it's predictions with confidence. We start running the scores with this years data starting week 3. In this matchup, Boise has played 3 games and Fresno just 2. So, really not enough data here. That being said, the model says Boise State 46-40. Again, too early to rely on the model, but we agree with it here. In fact, when we started this article, the line was +4. Now, it's +3. Still like it. Boise St +3

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