Boise State vs Washington Odds, Picks, Prediction: Huskies to Cruise?
Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Washington’s Devin Culp (left) and Rome Odunze (right).
Boise State vs Washington Odds
Expectations are high in Seattle because the Washington Huskies have the roster to not only win a Power Five conference but also make the College Football Playoff.
Kalen DeBoer enters his second season as head coach after an 11-2 record and an Alamo Bowl victory.
The Huskies were one of the biggest winners from a retention standpoint, returning more than 75%, per TARP, on both sides of the ball. Alongside USC, this is arguably the best quarterback and receiver unit West of the Mississippi River.
Before DeBoer can chase a conference title and a possible trip to the College Football Playoff, one of the best Group of Five programs will challenge Washington in Husky Stadium.
Boise State made positive strides in the offseason for returning experience on the offensive side of the ball, only to be canceled out by the numerous losses on the defense.
A new offensive coordinator is in place after Dirk Koetter served as the interim in 2022, accelerating a stagnant offense that ended the season with 35 points in a Frisco Bowl victory over North Texas.
The Broncos have not claimed a Mountain West title since 2019, but a cover or outright win against Washington would springboard Boise State into conference play.
Boise State struggled to put points on the board early in the 2022 campaign. The Broncos scored 27 combined points in losses to Oregon State and UTEP while posting just 61 in wins over New Mexico and UT Martin.
A jolt came for head coach Andy Avalos when former NFL coordinator Dirk Koetter took over play-calling duties.
Taylen Green took over starting duties at quarterback for the remainder of the season, posting 14 passing and 10 rushing touchdowns.
Just an absolutely perfect throw from Taylen Green.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 25, 2022
Koetter retired from his interim position, so Avalos turned to former Washington coordinator Bush Hamdan to call plays this season. During the 2018 and 2019 seasons on the Huskies' staff, Hamdan called primarily 12 personnel with a slight distribution lean toward the run.
Hamdan relies on the offensive line to call out blocking at the line of scrimmage with an aim to simplify the offense for Green. Garrett Curran has been tapped to play center for the Broncos after spending the majority of his college career as a guard and tackle.
The defense loses three of its top four tacklers, taking an experience hit in the linebacker unit. Less than 30% of pressures return from the defense a season ago, leaving the bulk of the duties to middle linebacker DJ Schramm. The senior racked up over 100 tackles while recording four quarterback hits and 11 tackles for loss in 2022.
The No. 1 question in DeBoer's second year is if the hype is justified for Washington.
The Huskies return the bulk of key players on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Michael Penix Jr. Washington finished the season as the best in FBS in terms of quality drives and available yards.
With 60 career passing touchdowns since the 2018 season, Penix will add to that total with Biletnikoff contender Rome Odunze.
Washington WR Rome Odunze with a gorgeous double move against UCLA last year
His stats in 2022 : 75 Rec 1,145 yards 7 TD
With a potential first round QB in Michael Penix Jr. returning, keep an eye on Odunze in that WR2 conversation for the 2024 draft. pic.twitter.com/AdluPuCsUN
— Jacob Lintner (@lintnermedia) August 24, 2023
The Huskies lost two of their top three tacklers from a year ago, but more than 75% of pass breakups and pressures will look to improve a Havoc ranking that fell outside the top 100. Washington produced a top-40 pass rush a season ago, as edge Bralen Trice returns nine sacks to the field.
The area of concern for the season comes in the secondary, specifically with minimal experience at cornerback with Elijah Jackson and Oklahoma State transfer Jabbar Muhammad.
Boise State vs Washington
Betting Pick & Prediction
There are expectations that Washington may have the best offense west of the Mississippi, which forces Boise State to find linebackers who are competent in covering Washington slot wide receiver Jalen McMillan.
The Huskies are one of the elite throwing teams in the country, ranking as the best overall squad in FBS in Havoc Allowed.
If there's a lesson from DeBoer's first year as head coach, it's that Washington won't lift a foot off the offensive pedal in the second half. The Huskies ranked third nationally in second-half scoring and 16th in fourth-quarter scoring, per Sport Source Analytics.
The bigger handicap is if Boise State's heavy rush attack will grind clock and limit Washington's number of possessions. The Huskies finished 26th in rushing yards allowed per attempt at 3.52, and they bring back defensive tackle Tuli Letuligasenoa and his 4.5 tackles for loss.
With questions surrounding the interior of the Boise State offensive line, there's an expectation that Washington's defense will do enough to jam running back George Holani in standard downs and chase Green from the pocket in passing downs.
Ultimately, the linebacker unit for Boise State enters the season projected as a mid-tier unit in the Mountain West. Coverage over the middle will be the biggest emphasis, as Penix will attack on slants, digs and crossers.
Don't expect DeBoer to let up in the second half with any lead. The former Fresno State coach is 9-1 against the spread in his career in nonconference games. Action Network projects Washington as 16.5-point favorites, giving the current market number value to back the Huskies.