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The Sheraton Hawaii Bowl game is more of a vacation for these teams considering the lofty preseason expectations for each of them. Both were ranked in the Top 25 in the AP Polls yet are nowhere close to the rankings now. Boise State will be led by interim coach Bob Gregory (LBs coach) as Chris Petersen is gone. The Broncos recently hired Bryan Harsin, but he will coach Arkansas State in their bowl game. Oregon State received a lot of the early money in this game (93% at sportsbook.com) and are currently -3 point favorites at 5 dimes sportsbook.
Boise State finished 8-4 with all losses coming on the road to teams with a winning record. There's no harm in that, but that means they didn't really beat anyone of relevance besides Utah State back in October. Colorado State was also a decent win, but maybe not of Pac-12 caliber. The Broncos opened the season by getting smashed 38-6 by Washington.
There isn't much to say about Oregon State as they are on a five-game losing streak to finish with a 6-6 record. Granted all five of their opponents were some of the best in the Pac-12, but it's not a great way to end the season. The Beavers started the year with a loss to FCS school Eastern Washington. Their best wins were probably against Utah and San Diego State which isn't saying much. In the battle of Oregon, the Beavers fell short losing 36-35 to the Ducks in their last game.
In similar opponents, OSU won at SDSU 34-30, and BSU recently lost to them 34-31 in OT. Against Washington, they were both beaten handedly.
The Broncos still haven't said who their starting QB is going to be as Grant Hedrick came in for Joe Southwick due to injury halfway through the year and has played well. Even though Southwick returned for the final game, Hedrick still got the start. Both had very similar numbers on the year, so it wouldn't be surprising if the younger Hedrick got the start. Wide receiver Matt Miller (934 yards, 11 TDs) is expected to get a ton of targets as fellow leading receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes (702 yards, six TDs) is questionable due to an ankle injury. That said, Boise State is a power-running team led by Jay Ajayi who has 1,328 yards and 17 TDs for the season. Expect at least 20 carries for Ajayi if not more.
Oregon State's defense is a question mark allowing 32 points per game so there's no telling what will happen here. If they don't come ready to play, Ajayi could run all over them.
Along those lines, Boise State's defense is a far cry from previous seasons often giving up loads of points to worthy teams. The only reason their points allowed per game is at 24 is because of teams like Southern Miss and Wyoming on their schedule. Against Fresno State, a similar pass-heavy team, the Broncos allowed 41 points.
And that's part of the reason the Beavers are only 6-6. They cannot run the ball at all averaging 3.2 yards per carry as a team. It's mostly a hot-hand deal in the backfield between Terron Ward and Storm Woods. The two have combined for only 837 yards and nine TDs. Oregon State is all about the passing game with Sean Mannion, who has 4,403 yards to go with 36 TDs and 14 INTs. The problem lately for Mannion is that he's throwing tons of interceptions with 11 in his last four games. Boise State's pass defense will be a step down from that of Mannion's recent opponents, so a big game may be coming. And of course there's his top target Brandin Cooks who has a ridiculous 120 receptions for 1,670 yards and 15 TDs. Stopping him is close to impossible.
Unless Oregon State's defense actually shows up, there should be plenty of points in this one for both teams.
The Broncos are 6-1 ATS in their last seven neutral site games and have covered in four of their last five bowl games. The Beavers are just 1-4 ATS in their last five vs. the MWC and have not covered in four straight non-conference games. In the last five meeting between these schools, dating back to 2003, the Broncos are 3-1-1 ATS.
Opinion Only - Oregon State -3 - was going to use this game as a 1* play but decided against it. The feeling here is that the Oregon State lack of a running game could come into play here and hurt the Beavers. I was leaning towards Oregon State to begin with based solely on their high powered passing game. These bowl games often end up to be wild shootouts and in this particular game, I'd prefer to have a kid like Oregon State QB Mannion on my side. I just think Oregon State is better equipped to win a shootout.
It was just a lean, but what was going to push this game over the top to become an official play was the suspension of Boise St QB Joe Southwick and not necessarily because of his play on the field. After all, he missed 5 games and only returned for their final game of the year.
But the reason behind the suspension and the circumstances surrounding it could tell a bigger story. The kid was suspended for peeing off the balcony of the hotel. Figure that one out. I don't know what your experience has been, but in my travels, usually when someone is peeing of a balcony, there's alcohol involved. Perhaps the Boise players have been enjoying Hawaii a bit too much. The incident, and the suspension suggest perhaps that Boise State Assistant Bob Gregory doesn't have control over this team.
One has to wonder if this would have happened had Chris Petersen still been on board. To make matters worse, Southwick returned home and immediately took to the airwaves to clear his name, saying he was basically thrown under the bus by teammates and is innocent of the accusations.
All of this has to be a distraction for Boise St. You don't want your University in the news for a negative incident like this. It makes the "lean" on Oregon State even stronger in my eyes, but I'm going to pass the game.
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