Fresno State at Boise State
November 8, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's Note: Brian Edwards easily cashed a winner on last night's 'under' (69) in Wake Forest's 27-23 upset win at N.C. St. Since Oct. 13, Brian's guaranteed picks have hit at a 10-3 clip (76.9%, +6.7 Units), so don't miss out on his next pay-if-it-wins-only selection for tonight!
Boise State hasn’t been a home underdog since facing Boston College in the 2005 Humanitarian Bowl in the last game of the Dan Hawkins Era. The Broncos haven’t been home ‘dogs in a regular-season game since the 2001 opener vs. Washington St., and they haven’t been home puppies in a conference game since taking on Nevada in 1999.
Nevertheless, Bryan Harsin’s team will be in that role Friday night at Bronco Stadium when Fresno State (8-1 straight up, 8-1 against the spread) comes calling in a rematch of last year’s Mountain West Conference Championship Game at this same venue on the smurf turf.
As of early Thursday night, most betting shops had Fresno State installed as a 2.5-point road favorite with a total of 53. BSU was +125 on the money line (risk $100 to win $125).
Jeff Tedford returned to his alma mater after a dreadful 1-11 campaign in 2016. He quickly turned Fresno State into just the second FBS team to go from double-digit losses to double-digit wins in the span of one season. Since Tedford took over, Fresno State has compiled an incredible 18-5 SU record to go with a 18-3-2 ATS mark.
Two of the losses came in back-to-back weeks last year at top-ranked Alabama and at sixth-ranked Washington. The Bulldogs took the cash in both instances, however.
Fresno State opened the season with a 79-13 home win over Idaho before dropping a 21-14 decision at Minnesota in Week 2. Since then, the Bulldogs have won seven games in a row both SU and ATS, with each victory coming by at least 18 points. They’re off a 48-3 win at UNLV as 27-point road ‘chalk.’
Senior QB Marcus McMaryion, the transfer from Oregon State who is in his second season as a starter at FS, completed 26-of-35 passes for 274 yards and two TDs with one interception. He also rushed for 39 yards on seven attempts. KeeSean Johnson had eight receptions for 97 yards, while Michiah Quick had five catches for 49 yards.
FS is ranked 11th in the country in scoring with its 40.4 points-per-game average. McMaryion has connected on 70.9 percent of his passes for 2,416 yards with a 20/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has rushed for 157 yards and seven scores, averaging 3.7 yards per carry.
Johnson, a first-team All-MWC selection in 2017, is on his way to duplicating those honors. He has 62 receptions for 858 yards and six TDs. Jared Rice has 38 catches for 477 yards and three TDs, while Jamire Jordan has caught 20 balls for 279 yards and two TDs.
Sophomore RB Jordan Mims has rushed for 306 yards and four TDs, in addition to making 19 catches for 274 yards and two TDs. Another sophomore RB, Ronnie Rivers, has 265 rushing yards and five TDs with a 5.9 YPC average. Rivers has 10 catches for 167 yards and two TDs.
FSU is ranked 14th in the nation in total defense, 16th at defending the pass, 30th in run defense and second in scoring ‘D’ (12.3 points per game). This unit is led by junior LB Jeff Allison, who has recorded 84 tackles, three tackles for loss, two interceptions for 27 return yards, two QB hurries, one pass broken up and 0.5 sacks.
Tedford’s bunch is 4-1 both SU and ATS in five road games, including a 38-14 win at UCLA, a 21-3 victory at Nevada and a 38-7 triumph at New Mexico. As a road favorite on Tedford’s watch, the Bulldogs have produced a 5-0-2 spread record.
Boise State (7-2 SU, 4-4-1 ATS) is 4-1 in league play, trailing Utah St. by one game in the MWC’s Mountain Division. The Broncos will host the Aggies in both team’s regular-season finale on Nov. 24, so they need a win over FSU to keep control of their own destiny to get back to the MWC Championship Game.
Since dropping a 19-13 decision to San Diego St. as a 13.5-point home favorite on Oct. 13, BSU has won four consecutive games. However, the Broncos have merely one cover in that span and are mired in a 1-3-1 ATS slide. They failed to get the money in last week’s 21-16 win over BYU as 11.5-point home ‘chalk.’
BSU jumped out ahead of the number in the first quarter, going ahead 14-0 on an Alexander Mattison one-yard TD run and a seven-yard TD pass from Brett Rypien to A.J. Richardson. The Cougars would get a pair of field goals in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 14-6 at halftime. Then when Zach Wilson scored on a four-yard TD run midway through the third quarter, BYU was down by only one point.
Boise St. would answer with a Mattison three-yard TD run with 1:44 left in the third quarter. BYU got a 41-yard FG with 6:32 remaining, but that was as close as it would get. The 37 combined points went way ‘under’ the 53.5-point tally.
Mattison rushed for 89 yards and two scores on 25 carries, in addition to catching five balls for 40 receiving yards. Rypien completed 23-of-35 passes for 214 yards with one TD and an interception. Richardson had four catches for 53 yards and one TD.
Rypien is second in school history in career passing yards behind only Kellen Moore. He has completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 2,779 yards with a 24/6 TD-INT ratio this year. Senior WR Sean Modster has 45 receptions for 660 yards and four TDs, while Richardson has 39 grabs for 653 yards and eight TDs. Junior WR John Hightower has 30 catches for 496 yards and six TDs, while C.T. Thomas has 30 receptions for 397 yards and three TDs.
Mattison has run for a team-best 726 yards and 10 TDs while averaging 4.1 YPC. Hightower has rushed eight times for 163 yards and a pair of scores.
BSU has won three of its four home games while compiling a 2-2 spread record. This is obviously the first home underdog situation since Harsin took over for Chris Petersen in 2014.
When these schools met in last year’s regular-season finale, Fresno St. won by a 28-17 count as a seven-point home underdog. The victory gave FSU the MWC’s West Division title and forced a rematch in Boise the following week.
The 45 combined points in the first encounter at Bulldog Stadium dipped ‘under’ the 50-point total. McMaryion threw for 332 yards and two TDs without committing a turnover, while Johnson had six receptions for 119 yards and two TDs. Rypien threw for 278 yards without a TD or a pick, but Mattison was limited to 63 rushing yards and one TD on 15 totes.
BSU avenged the loss by winning 17-14 as a 9.5-point home ‘chalk’ in the MWC Championship Game the following week. The ‘under’ cashed for a third straight time in this rivalry when the 31 combined points dropped below the 50.5-point tally.
Fresno State led 14-10 at intermission, but the Broncos got the game-winning points on Ryan Wolpin’s two-yard TD run with 4:42 remaining. Rypien threw for 246 yards without committing a turnover, while Mattison ran for 50 yards and one TD on 14 attempts. McMaryion struggled by completing only 16-of-34 throws for 172 yards and zero TDs compared to one interception. He ran for 33 yards and two scores on seven carries.
The ‘under’ is 5-4 overall for FSU, 4-1 in its road assignments. The Bulldogs have watched their games average combined scores of 52.8 PPG.
The ‘over’ is 5-4 overall for BSU, 2-2 in its home outings. The Broncos have seen their games average combined scores of 61.7 PPG.
Kickoff is scheduled for 10:15 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Boise State LB Riley Whimpey will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL sustained in last week’s 21-16 home win over BYU. Whimpey was leading the Broncos in tackles with 55. He also had two sacks, one TFL, two QB hurries and one PBU.
-- The ‘over’ has hit at a 9-2 clip in BSU’s past 11 games played on Friday.
-- Ohio State is mired in a 0-5 ATS slide. As of Thursday night, the Buckeyes were 3.5-point road favorites for Saturday’s showdown at Michigan. They are 3.5-point home underdogs to Michigan in their regular-season finale at several books in Las Vegas and offshore.
-- The ‘over is on a 5-0 run for Louisville, which is a 21-point underdog for Friday’s game at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse. According to a report this week, as many as 20 U of L players have expressed interest in transferring when the season ends.
-- The ‘under’ is on a 5-0 run for California, which has held its past three foes to 36 combined points. Justin Wilcox owns a 10-4 ATS record as an underdog. The Golden Bears were five-point underdogs for Saturday’s game at Southern Cal, as of late Thursday.
-- The ‘over’ has cashed at a 5-1 clip for Notre Dame in its past six games. However, the ‘under’ is 4-1 for the Fighting Irish at home. They host FSU on Saturday and are expected to do so without star QB Ian Book (15/4 TD-INT ratio), who was ruled ‘out’ early Thursday due to an injury to his ribs. The ‘over’ is also on a 5-1 run for the Seminoles, who moved from 18-point underdogs to 16.5-point puppies after the new of Book’s injury broke. They’ve gone 1-3 both SU and ATS in four previous road assignments. This game will kick at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on NBC.
-- Utah QB Tyler Huntley is out for the season with a broken collarbone sustained in last week’s 38-20 loss at Arizona State. Huntley had completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 1,762 yards with a 12/6 TD-INT ratio. He had rushed for 304 yards and four TDs. Since four-star 2018 recruit Jack Tuttle decided to transfer last month, the back-up duties fall to RS freshman Jack Shelley, who has completed 6-of-14 passes for 99 yards with zero TDs and one interception. Shelley has 47 rushing yards on nine attempts. If Shelley gets injured, Kyle Whittingham would have to turn to WR Britain Covey or LB Chase Hansen, both of whom played QB in high school. Covey is the Utes’ top WR with 49 receptions for 529 yards and one TD. He has completed all three of his pass attempts for 71 yards and two TDs without an interception. The Utes had been on fire with four consecutive wins both SU and ATS (and by margins of 19, 32, 13 and 31 against Pac-12 competition) before going to ASU. Now they’re in bounce-back mode with Oregon coming to Rice-Eccles Stadium this weekend.
-- Stanford TE Kaden Smith has 44 receptions for 601 yards and two TDs for the season. The third-year sophomore is turning it up the past two weeks, catching 17 balls for 219 yards and two TDs. Smith and the Cardinal host Oregon St. this week. Smith’s 25-yard reception on a fourth-and-10 play was crucial in Stanford’s 15-14 come-from-behind win in Corvallis last season. His production will be even more important Saturday vs. Oregon St since the Cardinal will be without WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who is ‘out’ with an ankle injury. Whiteside has 48 receptions for 754 yards and 11 TDs.
-- Temple RB Ryquell Armstead is ‘questionable’ at Houston due to an ankle injury. Armstead has run for 768 yards and six TDs this season.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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