The 2015-16 bowl circuit turns to San Diego this afternoon for the Poinsettia Bowl with the Boise State Broncos facing the Northern Illinois Huskies. The Broncos and Huskies, in recent years, have gotten a taste of the top BCS Bowls. Northern Illinois was pasted by Florida State in the Orange Bowl by a score of 31-10 in 2013. The Huskies have had to battle adversity with their quarterback situation as a result of injuries, so it could have been a much better season than a trip to the Poinsettia Bowl for Northern Illinois if they had their starter at the controls for a whole year. As it was, the Huskies had to finish the season on their third string quarterback in the MAC Championship. They didn’t stand a chance, as the offense was held back resulting in a 34-14 final for Bowling Green. Looking at the current state of the teams, it probably would have been a better matchup if Toledo went to the championship instead of Northern Illinois. But, you can’t really control injuries and Northern Illinois fell victim to the injury bug at the worst position possible.
Starter Drew Hare starting the year and was out of commission by early November. Hare was looking good in the offense, passing for 14 touchdowns and 4 interceptions with 252 yards rushing. NIU even came close to defeating Ohio State in week 3, 20-13. Like I said, it could have been better for Northern Illinois. A win against the Buckeyes would have made their season regardless of future results anyway. However, a win against Boise State would be a nice way to finish up the year.
The Broncos came into the season with plenty of excitement and promise. Many expected them to run the tables in the Mountain West Conference. The end result was Boise State not even making it to the conference championship game. Regardless of what happens in this game, it is going to be a disappointing season for the Broncos. Like the Huskies, this season could have been a lot more than what it was. Boise State’s signal caller, Brett Rypien, has faced adversity this season with injuries as well, but has leveled out and finished the season on a high note. In the last two games he passed for 3 touchdowns, no interceptions, and 434 yards passing. In total the freshman has thrown for 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Look for him to have a big year next season. He’ll look to get the momentum started for next season already against Northern Illinois.
Boise State Broncos vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Poinsettia Bowl Betting Odds:
Boise State -9.5(-110)
vs. Northern Illinois +9.5(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Boise State vs. Northern Illinois Pick:
This is just the start for Rypien. I expect big numbers out of him in the foreseeable future. Remember the name. Today he has a challenge on his hands against the Huskies’ defense. They have held some good offenses down this season, like they did Ohio State. However, what Huskies’ defense is going to show up? Because they’ve played some strong games on defense, and then looked out of sync in others. Northern Illinois will have backup quarterback Ryan Graham for the bowl. He played well when he took over for Hare, passing for 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions and 153 yards rushing. In the last three games he played Graham was beginning to heat up, which made it even more difficult for him to have to sit out. Graham will be back for this one, though.
The Huskies have scored 33 points per game this season while giving up 25.5 a game. As I said, there are games where the Huskies look like a top defense, others they look like it’s different players on the field. Graham has looked good, but has only passed for 150 yards per game. The rush defense for Boise State is pretty stout, allowing 117 yards per game on the ground. Conversely, the Huskies are capable of being exploited on the ground, as they have given up 167 yards per game. With a healthy Rypien at quarterback, I think Boise is going to get ahead early and NIU is going to need to try to come back through the air. That isn’t their game. They average a healthy 205 yards per game rushing, but Boise has the talent to slow down that aspect of their game. The line has gone up by a point in favor of the Broncos since the opening. I think the books are on to something and I’m seeing a 14 point win for Boise State.
PICK: BOISE STATE -9.5 (-110)