Three teams ruled the Mountain West all season and Boise State is hoping to finish on top in the MWC Championship Game after beating Utah State last weekend. Fresno State was never a doubt for this spot and will be looking for an upset in Round 2 on the blue turf. The Broncos were -2.5 point home favorites with an over/under of 52 as of Wednesday.
Unsurprisingly, it was a defensive battle when these teams met a few weeks ago. Boise ended up winning 24-17, but that came after being down 17-3 early in the third quarter. It took three long touchdown drives to turn things around and this matchup will likely be just as close. These teams are about as even at it gets with both having complete offenses for the MWC, but also stout defenses that rarely let anyone put up big totals.
ACCording to the numbers, Fresno has the better overall group, allowing just 13.5 points per Game and 3.5 yards per carry. Boise’s offense figured things out in the second half of the first meeting and it’s a wonder if they can carry that play over. Senior quarterback Brett Rypien (29 TDs, 7 INTs) was key in that win, completing 24-of-29 passes, but also rushing for 30 more. That efficiency was huge combined with running back Alexander Mattison going for 144 yards on 4.8 yards per carry. This offense may not be as explosive as some, but it has a great one-two punch that Fresno couldn’t figure out.
On the other side of that, Boise kind of figured out Fresno’s offense in the second half mostly because Fresno doesn’t have the same kind of ground Game. Neither Jordan Mims nor Ronnie Rivers has rushed for more than 500 yards this year and they combined for only 80 in the first matchup. Boise may not have as good of defense, but it’s a different group at home when its backs are against the wall and that could be what separates them again in this Game. Still, it’s hard to ignore what Fresno senior quarterback Marcus McMaryion has done with 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions on 8.97 yards per attempt. Playing in the MWC, it’s rare to see a quarterback with those kinds of numbers and he’s helped by top wide out KeeSean Johnson, who has 1,267 yards and eight touchdowns.
Boise State fell at home to SDSU earlier in the season, but has since beaten Fresno and Utah State, the other two best teams in the conference. Favored by less than a field goal, it’ll be hard to bet against Boise on the blue turf even if Fresno has the better overall defense. Boise is more balanced and that’s how it won the first Game.
The Bulldogs are 14-3 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 road Games. The Broncos are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five Conference Games, but only 7-15 ATS in their last 22 at home. The under has hit in the last Four meetings between these teams and the underdog has covered in the last six. Fresno State is 4-1 ATS in the last five.
Our Pick – Same season revenge can be sweet. We had Fresno as a Key Release the first time around and thought we had it nailed. Kudos to Boise for the come from behind win.
But beating a good team twice in one year is very difficult. With the season Fresno has had, we just can’t see them letting this one slip away. More importantly, Our numbers and Our model support that feeling, predicting a straight up Fresno win. Fresno State +2.5