The Thursday night (9:00pm ET) match up for week 4 of the 2012 college football season is an exciting one as the 25th ranked Cougars of BYU (2-1) travel to Boise, ID to take on the host Broncos of Boise St. (1-1) out of the Mountain West Conference. BYU is 1-2 ATS this season, losing outright at Utah last week 24-21 as a 3.5 point favorite, and failing to cover against Weber St. the week before as a 38.5 point favorite in a 45-13 victory. Boise St. is 2-0 ATS this season, defeating Miami of Ohio 39-12 last week at home, and losing their opener to Michigan St. on the road in week one 17-13, as the Spartans failed to cover the 8.5 point line.
The Cougars once again have a potent passing attack that ranks 36th among FBS teams at 272 yards per game and averages 32 points per game to rank 55th nationally in scoring offense. Senior quarterback Riley Nelson has thrown for 735 yards with 5 TDs and 2 INTs on the season, after tossing 19 TDs with only 7 INTs last season. The BYU defense has been a surprise so far this season, ranking 20th in scoring defense with 14.3 PPG allowed and 9th in total defense with an average of 241 YPG allowed.
Boise State features a new trigger man for their spread offense this season in junior QB Joe Southwick, who has been simply adequate in replacing the departed Kellen Moore, throwing for 473 yards and 2 TDs for an offense that has not been up to its usual standards with 402.5 YPG through two games. One game was against the tough Michigan St. defense, so Southwick should not be judged too harshly in the early going.
BYU vs. Boise State Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
BYU Cougars +7.5
@ Boise State Broncos -7.5
Over 49 (-110)
Under 49 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
BYU vs. Boise State Pick:
BYU is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games against Mountain West Conference teams, 7-2 ATS in their last 9 non-conference games and 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall. Boise St. is 41-18-1 ATS in their last 60 games against teams with a winning record, and 2-6 ATS in their last 8 home games. The over is 4-0 in BYU’s last 4 road games. The under is 4-1 in Boise State’s last 5 games overall and 8-3-1 in the Broncos’ last 12 home games. The last meeting between the two teams was a 28-27 Boise St. win at home in 2004, the Broncos also routed BYU 50-12 in Provo, UT the previous season.
These two teams have traditionally been known for throwing the ball all over the field and scoring points at will no matter who they play, but that has not been the case thus far in 2012. It is hard to judge who Boise St. really is this season, as they struggled offensively against the rugged Michigan State defense, but piled up 599 yards of total offense against an out-classed MAC team in Miami of Ohio. They should fall somewhere in the middle in this game against a BYU defense that has looked good so far while facing teams of varying levels of competition. Utah was held to 245 yards of total offense in a losing effort last week, and the vaunted “Air Raid” offense of Mike Leach and Washington St was held to 224 total yards in the opener, so the Cougars can shut down passing-oriented offenses. The Broncos are another story though, Boise St. scored under 35 points at home one time last season, and they have not scored less than 30 points in a home game since 2008. The call here is that Boise will hit their stride with Southwick at QB and that the teams will combine to push the total over a low number of 49 for two passing-oriented offenses with a history of high point totals. Take the over at any number posted of 50 and under.
PICK = Over 49