Fresno State-Boise State Betting Preview: Are the Broncos Being Undervalued?
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Marcus McMaryion and Andrew Van Buren
Fresno State-Boise State Betting Odds, Pick
- Odds: Fresno State -2.5
- Over/Under: 53.5
- Time: 10:15 p.m ET
- TV: ESPN2
Fresno State has been on quite the run, vaulting itself into the College Football Playoff Top 25 with an 8-1 record. The Bulldogs are also 8-1 against the spread, which is tied for the best mark in the country.
Boise State is an underdog on its home field for the first time since 2001 and needs a win to keep pace with Utah State in the Mountain West’s Mountain Division.
>> All odds as of 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.
Fresno About to Step up in Class
Fresno State has played one of the weakest schedules in the country. And while the defense is really, really good, its metrics (and therefore the line on this game) are probably a bit inflated.
The Bulldogs have played only four units ranked in the top half of FBS in S&P+ on offense or defense:
- Minnesota Defense (62)
- Toledo Offense (19)
- Hawaii Offense (54)
- Wyoming Defense (42)
Here are their performances against each of the four. They’re well-below Fresno’s season averages, and these games are included in those averages.
Still, the Bulldogs Are Blowing Everyone out
The sign of a good team isn’t always wins and losses; it’s what you do in those wins and losses. And Fresno State has looked dominant against bad competition.
Per S&P+, the Bulldogs had a postgame win expectancy of at least 97% in every game but a loss to Minnesota (60%). That means if you gave each team an equal amount of luck and played the game 100 times, Fresno State would win at least 97 out of 100.
The adjusted scoring margins tell the same story. With the exception of Minnesota, Fresno deserved to win all its games by at least 18 points.
But Is Boise Undervalued Here?
What is not to love about Boise State in this spot against Fresno State?
Fresno is riding high, ranked No. 7 in S&P+ and 23rd in the College Football Playoff rankings, but The Action Network’s power ratings disagree with both, ranking the Bulldogs 31st with a projected spread of -1 against Boise State.
Fresno State has a strength of schedule rank of 128th in FBS, with its toughest competition coming in a loss to Minnesota and a win over Toledo. Boise State is 34th in S&P+ and 40th in our power ratings, and will serve as the toughest test for the Bulldogs all season.
Boise Defense Should Stop the Run
The Boise State defense should feast against the Fresno State rushing attack.
The Bulldogs rank 113th in opportunity rate and 90th in stuff rate, indicating they have problems in short yardage gains or keeping defenders out of their backfield. Meanwhile the Broncos’ defense ranks ranks 21st and 33rd in those respective categories.
Fresno will rely on the arm of quarterback Marcus McMaryion, who boasts a 20-to-3 interception-to-touchdown ratio. Boise should play decent pass defense — the Broncos rank 56th in passing downs — but a defensive line sack rate of second in the nation will keep McMaryion on the run.
Grab the +3 on the Broncos if it’s still out there. Boise has won 10 of the past 12 games straight-up in this series.
Collin’s Pick: Boise State +2.5/3
I agree that’s the cap here. Fresno won’t be able to do much on the ground, forcing the offense into passing situations, and Boise can get to the quarterback. The Bulldogs’ defensive (and overall) metrics look great across the board, but they really haven’t played anybody all season.
Neither team has great special teams, but Boise has one of the worst units in the nation. The Broncos’ punting is especially horrid, and that’s where Fresno really excels, ranking No. 1 in the nation in punt efficiency.
If Boise can’t get to the QB and move the ball through the air, Fresno will dominate field position on the back (or should I say leg) of its advantages in the punting game.
Trends to Know
By John Ewing
The Broncos are 31-31-1 against the spread under head coach Bryan Harsin, but only 11-19 ATS at home.
By Evan Abrams
Boise State has not been listed as a home underdog on the blue turf since Sept. 8, 2001 against Washington State. That was 111 home games ago. It was also the Broncos’ first season in the WAC after transitioning from the Big West. Boise State lost that game, 41-20.
Since then, the Broncos are 105-6 SU at home.
Since 2005, Boise State has received less than 50% spread tickets at home only 17 times. Boise State is 16-1 SU, but just 8-9 ATS due to the fact that 13 of the 17 games listed the Broncos as double-digit favorites.
Boise State survived at home against BYU last week (21-16) as a 11.5-point favorite, avoiding two home losses in three games for the Broncos.
Over the past decade, when Boise State plays at home the week after failing to cover the spread on the blue turf, the Broncos are only 2-6 ATS. But only two of those eight games had Boise listed as less than a double-digit favorite.