Boise State vs. San Diego State Odds, Picks & Predictions: Bet Broncos to Cover in Rock Fight on Friday (Nov. 26)
Tyler Ingham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: George Holani.
- The Boise State Broncos (-3) and San Diego State Aztecs kick off Black Friday's college football slate at Noon ET on CBS.
- San Diego State boasts a 10-1 overall record this season but just a middling ATS record. Meanwhile, the Broncos are surging, winners in four consecutive games.
- Boise State has covered the spread in six of its last eight games. Should we expect that trend to continue on Friday?
Boise State vs. San Diego State Odds
|Boise State Odds|
-110o / -110u
|San Diego State Odds|
-110o / -110u
Nothing like a noon ET kick to get things started on Black Friday as you lay on your couch with a plate full of Thanksgiving leftovers and a pocket full of betting tickets. That’s, of course, if you’re on the East Coast.
How about a 9 a.m. local start time for everyone on the West Coast? That’s exactly what we have here when San Diego State “hosts” Boise State a few hours from campus at its 2021 home location in Carson, California.
Turkey breakfast burritos, anyone?
I’ll be interested to see how the early time impacts the play on the field since it’s not like we have a huge dataset of 9 a.m. kickoffs. I can’t imagine many fans will be in attendance early in the morning on Black Friday two hours from campus.
San Diego State should be wide awake for this matchup with so much on the line. The Aztecs can clinch the West Division with a victory and punch their ticket to the Mountain West Conference Championship game to take on Utah State (most likely) or Air Force.
Although, it’s worth noting that San Diego State could already have the division locked up if San Jose State beats Fresno State on Thursday. The Aztecs would also host the championship as long as Air Force doesn’t lose at home to UNLV.
Speaking of an Air Force loss, that’s what Boise State needs (in addition to a victory) to win the Mountain Division. Unfortunately for Broncos fans, that’s not very likely considering the Falcons are 18-point favorites.
In case you’re curious, if both Air Force and Utah State (-15.5 at New Mexico) win, the Mountain division winner would still depend on Boise’s result. Air Force needs Boise to win, while Utah State needs the Broncos to lose.
So, who has the edge in this Mountain West breakfast brawl on the West Coast to kick off the Friday afternoon slate? Let’s take a closer look.
Boise State Closing Strong
Sitting at 7-4 on the season, Boise State has had a disappointing overall season for its lofty standards. However, the Broncos have really come on of late, winning four straight after a seemingly very productive bye week.
The improvement as the season has progressed shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise with a brand new coaching staff. This past offseason, Andy Avalos took over as head coach and brought in new defensive assistants and new offensive coordinator Tim Plough.
Avalos is a brilliant defensive mind, so I’m not shocked to see the defense really turn it on in recent weeks. Since the bye week, if you remove two garbage-time touchdowns, the Broncos have only allowed eight points per game. That includes an absolute rout of then-ranked Fresno State on the road and a historic performance against New Mexico.
Been finishing two stories for tomorrow’s @TheIdahoPress, but Boise State completes 37-0 shutout of New Mexico on Senior Night.
First shutout since Hawaii in 2015, and the 101 yards allowed is fewest since 2015 Poinsettia Bowl when Northern Illinois had 33.
— B.J. Rains (@BJRains) November 21, 2021
Not only has the team caught on to the new scheme, but Avalos also made a few personnel changes in the secondary that have paid dividends with increased playing time for Caleb Biggers and Kaonohi Kaniho at cornerback.
The defensive line also got healthier overall from a depth perspective, which has led to an improvement against the run.
The defense also had to deal with a number of key players being lost for important stretches due to targeting calls earlier in the season:
- Star safety JL Skinner, who leads the team in tackles and has a shot to play at the next level, got thrown out in the first half against both Colorado State and BYU. He was replaced by a former walk-on.
- A targeting suspension also kept stud linebacker Riley Whimpey out of the first half against Oklahoma State. After allowing 21 points in the first half, it’s no coincidence the Broncos shut out the Pokes in the second half once their defensive leader returned.
- Starting nickelback Kekaula Kaniho missed the first half against UTEP due to a targeting call.
(To any Boise State fans reading this, I apologize for bringing that Oklahoma State game up, as I know the officials robbed you of a victory due to an egregious inadvertent whistle.)
Bottom line, this very talented defense is now healthy and appears to have fully grasped the Avalos scheme. I now rate this unit in the top-30 nationally and it should continue trending upward.
The offense, led by quarterback Hank Bachmeier, has performed at about an average national level. The Broncos really struggle to run the ball with their backs, primarily due to an offensive line that has struggled to generate a push up front.
Boise State’s O-Line ranks 88th in Line Yards and will now have to make do without preseason All-Mountain West guard Jake Stetz, who suffered an injury last week. Stetz is not only the leader up front, he also had transitioned to center after a pair of injuries at the position.
Donte Harrington, one of three centers Boise has used this year, recently returned from injury and finished the game for Stetz last week. He should get the nod there once again, but it’s a significant drop-off.
While the rushing attack has improved recently with a healthy George Holani and Plough finding new ways to get receivers involved in the ground game — the offense still goes as the passing attack goes. It’s a team that prefers to pass and periodically use tempo.
The offense’s success will all fall on the shoulders of Bachmeier and star wide receiver Khalil Shakir, who has already eclipsed 1,000 yards on the season. Shakir is not only the clear alpha dog of a wide receiver group that has lost some key pieces, but he’s also a dangerous return man and contributes in the run game.
KHALIL SHAKIR IS NOT HUMAN.
A one-handed grab on a ball that was just thrown up into double coverage.
I don’t know how many players in college football make this catch…pic.twitter.com/lLyBQBM8c4
— Jay Tust (@KTVBSportsGuy) October 2, 2021
I’m sure San Diego State will try to take Shakir out of the game by any means necessary, but that’s easier said than done.
San Diego State Has an Identity, At Least
This is a very similar San Diego State team to the one we’ve seen over the past few years — an absolutely dominant defense and an almost equally abhorrent offense. Per my latest power ratings, I have the Aztec defense rated just outside the top 10 nationally, while the offense sits right around 110th.
San Diego State recently made a change at quarterback by going with Lucas Johnson, who does bring an added dimension to the offense with his legs. However, he’s severely limited through the air and doesn’t have many weapons on the outside to help him out.
The Aztecs want to play slow and run the ball (13th in Rush Rate) when on offense. If they can’t move it — and they usually can’t — they are perfectly fine playing the field-position game and relying on their elite defense. Think of the Ravens and Bears teams from the early 2000s if you follow the NFL.
The one difference with this year’s San Diego State is the Punt God aka Matt Araiza, who’s having one of the most dominant punting seasons in college football history. Oh, did I mention he also kicks field goals and does kickoffs well?
It might be hard to believe, but he’s the most important player on the Aztecs from a point spread perspective…by far. He’s on pace to shatter multiple NCAA records.
Plus, an elite punter is even more valuable to a bad offensive team like SDSU, which punts frequently. He’s arguably worth anywhere in the range of 3-4 points to the spread. Just insane. He is an absolute weapon that has won SDSU multiple games this year.
We can sum up his total SPP to get an estimate of his total value, which adds up to 21.5 SPP. This only trails Michael Dickson’s 2017, but on 22 less punts. With a single punt return TD which cost him 3.3 SPP alone. This is bananas.
Araiza by himself has saved SDSU ~3 TDs. pic.twitter.com/KQwSA1ivdf
— Conor “DJ Hackett” McAnalytics (@ConorMcQ5) November 17, 2021
On defense, San Diego State’s base 3-3-5 gives up absolutely nothing on the ground, which has been the case for years. Don’t expect Boise to get much of anything with a traditional rushing attack. I doubt the Broncos even try to run much.
The Aztec secondary has graded out excellent this season, but they’ve faced an extremely easy schedule of opposing pass offenses. The few competent passing attacks (Fresno, Nevada) they played had success through the air. Even UNLV’s third-string QB had a decent game last week against the Aztecs.
Therefore, I do have some lingering questions about a secondary that lost three key members this offseason in cornerback Darren Hall (Fourth Round, Falcons), safety Tariq Thompson (signed with Bills in free agency) and safety Dwayne Johnson Jr. (signed with Falcons in free agency).
Overall, SDSU prefers to grind out low-scoring games by the skin of its teeth. It’s what it has done all year. Just take a look at these close victories in 2021:
- 33-31 vs. Utah in triple overtime
- 19-13 vs. SJSU in double overtime
- 20-14 at Air Force
- 17-10 at Hawaii
- 23-21 vs. Nevada
- 28-20 at UNLV
Yes, the Aztecs are 6-0 in one-possession games, including two in multiple overtimes. They’ve been quite fortunate, to say the least.
Their lone loss came against Fresno State by double digits, and their only wins by more than one possession came against Towson, Arizona, New Mexico State — a bad FCS team and two FBS teams with a combined 2-20 record.
Boise State vs. San Diego State Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Boise State and San Diego State match up statistically:
Boise State Offense vs. San Diego State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
San Diego State Offense vs. Boise State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||12||11|
|Plays per Minute||47||116|
|Rush Rate||53.7% (74)||63.6% (13)|
Boise State vs. San Diego State Betting Pick
The odd start time certainly is a curveball. I’m not sure what to make of it, but maybe the offenses come out a little flat. Who really knows?
I personally like Boise and the under here. When I analyze these two teams, San Diego State has an elite defense, spectacular special teams and a horrific offense. Well, after some of the changes and performances of late, I’d argue Boise now has a very good top-25 caliber defense, outstanding special teams and an average offense.
With SDSU’s normally massive special teams edge neutralized a bit in this particular matchup — and a lack of any significant home-field advantage — I think this boils down to my belief that Boise will have an easier time moving the ball.
Essentially, the gap between San Diego State’s suffocating defense and Boise State’s average offense is much smaller than the Aztec’s putrid offense vs. the Broncos’ extremely underrated defense.
Plus, Boise’s run defense has thrived of late, which it can lean on in this particular matchup. Expect the Broncos’ excellent tackling safeties to come down into the box as most teams have done to stymy this SDSU offense in conference play.
Ultimately, I think Bachmeier and Shakir make just enough plays to pull out a victory in a very low-scoring game that San Diego State finally falls on the wrong side of. I expect both teams to play the field-position battle for long stretches.
Points will come at a premium, so I do prefer the moneyline to laying around -2.5.
Also, as I mentioned previously, San Diego State could potentially clinch the division on Thursday if Fresno State loses. Who knows how that impacts its motivation — if at all — but I could see the Aztecs coming out a bit flat for a 9 a.m. local kick in that scenario.
It’s a small factor that’s impossible to quantify, but just something worth noting that could potentially benefit Boise.