Bowl season is upon us, and it all starts this Saturday with a docket of five games. The Las Vegas Bowl is the first decent bowl, the first two on Saturday are rather forgettable. They feel more like Tuesday or Wednesday night games than actual bowls. We’re going to skip right over them and go to Las Vegas where the Boise State Broncos and Oregon Ducks meet. Not a bad matchup at all for one of the smaller bowl games.
This is a rematch from 2009, a game that most people remember if they follow college football. It was the season opener, and Boise State and Oregon were both highly regarded teams. Boise State ultimately won 19-8. More people remember what happened after the game, rather that what took place on the field. LaGarrette Blount KO’d a Bronco when he wasn’t looking during a scuffle following the game. That is what everyone remembers.
Blount rushed for just -5 yards in that game, so one could argue he was a bit frustrated. It certainly raised questions about his character at the draft, including other off the field issues he had at Oregon. A lot has changed for Boise State and Oregon since then. Oregon went to the National Championship and has had a ton of success. Boise State on the hand hasn’t been able to capture the same success since Kellen Moore was at quarterback. Chris Petersen was a tremendous coach as well, he got the most out of 3-star recruits. Boise wasn’t attracting top-flight high schoolers, they had to make it work, and they made it work well.
Brett Rypien was expected to be the next big thing at Boise State, the guy who was going to step in and be the next face of the Broncos. Rypien has been a fine quarterback, but hasn’t lived up to lofty expectations. He isn’t putting up Kellen Moore numbers in the least, which is what a lot of people were waiting for. However, in his defense, this isn’t the same team overall. Moore had a couple of excellent receivers to go to, like Titus Young and Austin Pettis. They aren’t as stacked in that regard now. They do, however, have a defense behind them and just won the Mountain West. They don’t need Rypien to put up monster numbers. Let’s get to our Las Vegas Bowl pick below.
Boise State Broncos vs. Oregon Ducks Betting Odds:
Boise State +7.5(-110)
vs. Oregon -7.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Boise State vs. Oregon Pick:
It was a short stay for Willie Taggart at the University of Oregon. After just one year, Taggart packed his bags up and took the vacant job at the Florida State. It was a surprising move to see Jimbo Fisher jump ship to Texas A&M, and then it was surprising to see Taggart move on to FSU. Not really given the circumstances, it’s his dream job, but who really thought he was going to be gone after this season? It seemed like he was going to be at Oregon for the foreseeable future, he seemed to fit the system in Eugene. Mario Cristobal will take over as the head coach. Cristobal did a nice job turning around FIU in his last head coaching gig.
Oregon is a different animal than FIU, though. It’s going to be interesting to see how he does here. Cristobal will get his first chance as head coach of the Oregon Ducks in the Las Vegas Bowl. Star runner, Royce Freeman, will not participate in this game as he shifts his focus to the NFL instead. He isn’t going to risk injury in what is a glorified exhibition game. Oregon will have a healthy Justin Herbert, though. The Ducks’ offense is vastly different when they have Herbert at the controls. They were dormant without Herbert, but as soon as he came back, there was an instant boost.
The Ducks finished the regular season with 454 yards per game for 25th in the nation. Royce Freeman was a big part of their offense. He rushed for an impressive 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. Oregon has others waiting behind him, so they should be good on the running back situation moving forward. It certainly hurts their value in this game, though. Herbert passed for 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in a year that was plagued by a broken collarbone earlier. Keep an eye on him in 2018, he will have Heisman aspirations.
Boise State will counter the Oregon offense with a pretty physical defense. They’re allowing just 22.5 points per game this season. Like I said, they don’t need Rypien to be like Kellen Moore to win football games. Don’t get me wrong, this is nothing like the Kellen Moore era. They were a better team then, but their defense has been top-notice. Along with 22.5 points allowed per game, they’re giving up 337 yards per game, 23rd in the country. Rypien has thrown 14 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. In bowl games, you must look at motivation. The motivational edge has to be with Boise State.
They always like showing they can compete with the big boys, and here’s their best opponent of the year. I don’t see much motivation on the Oregon side. They just lost their head coach and the players are none too happy about it. The extended break could very well work against their offense which is predicated around timing. I can certainly see Oregon winning, but 7.5 is a few too many points for me. Remember not to go crazy during bowl season. I treat them more as recreational plays before the top-tier bowls, and the playoff come around.
PICK: BOISE STATE +7.5 (-110)