College Football Odds, Prediction, Pick for UTEP vs. Boise State: The Spread Bet to Make for Friday Night’s Showdown
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The Boise State Broncos.
College Football Week 2 Odds
-110o / -110u
|Boise State Odds|
-110o / -110u
Boise State looks to rebound from an opening weekend loss to UCF, when it hosts the 2-0 UTEP Miners on the Smurf Turf.
UTEP is off to a 2-0 start after beating New Mexico State and Bethune Cookman to open the season. Before this season, UTEP had won a total of only five games over the previous four seasons, so this is a massive improvement for Dana Dimel in his fourth year at the helm.
However, Boise State is a massive step up in competition, to say the least. We will see on Friday night if the Miners have turned a corner or not.
The good news for UTEP on offense is it brought back 78%, according to TARP, including starting quarterback Gavin Hardison, who has already thrown for four touchdowns and 11.07 yards per attempt — although that came against two cupcakes, so there’s not much to glean from those two performances.
However, Hardison is throwing to the best wide receiver tandem in Conference USA in Jacob Cowing and Justin Garrett, who have already combined for 300 yards and three touchdowns in their first two games.
They should be able to attack the weak point of the Boise State defense, which is its secondary.
Jacob Cowing with the NASTY grab pic.twitter.com/XgXIHO0OXw
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 29, 2021
On account they’ve been ahead for both games, the Miners offense has been rush heavy, running the ball 68% for 5.3 yards per carry, which is a massive step up from last season when they gained only 3.7 yards per carry.
The improvement should continue since UTEP has all five starters back on an offensive line that has been graded as the No. 11 run-blocking unit, per PFF, through its first two games.
Defense is the biggest question mark for the Miners this season.
Yes, they allowed only three points to New Mexico State, but their performance against Bethune Cookman was quite concerning. The Wildcats gained 7.1 yards per play and 9.8 yards per attempt through the air, and that’s going to be UTEP’s biggest downfall this season.
During the offseason, top cornerback Duron Lowe transferred to Liberty, leaving the Miner secondary with only two starters from last season, which was not ideal to begin with.
In 2020, UTEP’s secondary allowed 8.56 yards per attempt and was the 96th-ranked team in terms of coverage, per PFF. So, it’s going to be a long night trying the shut down Hank Bachmeier and Khalil Shakur.
However, the UTEP defensive line does have some talent, and if it can control the line of scrimmage against an average-at-best Boise State offensive line, it may have a chance.
The Miners return their entire defensive line from last season, a unit that ranked inside the top 50 in Defensive Line Yards and Havoc, so they will be a key in this game if the Miners are going to cover the big spread.
Boise State got the Andy Avalos era off to a bad start, losing 36-31, to UCF in Orlando after leading 24-14 at the half. Boise State gained a total of 59 yards in the second half after look unstoppable for most of the first.
It’ll hope to turn things around against a lesser opponent, but the question isn’t whether or not it’ll win. It’s whether it can cover a 26-point spread against an inferior opponent.
Over the past 10 years, the Blue Turf has not been magical at covering big spreads.
New offensive coordinator Tim Plough did not get off to a great start against UCF, as his high-flying offense gained only 4.4 yards per play.
Plough was recently the offensive coordinator at UC Davis, where he led the FCS in passing the past three seasons.
However, Saturday’s starter might be up in the air because Bachmeier did not look great running Plough’s offense, averaging only 6.74 yards per attempt and throwing one of the worst interceptions to end the game you’ll ever see.
Boise State snaps the ball from UCF’s 35, Hank Bachmeier throws a game sealing interception from UCF’s 33 or so
No flag, not even a mention of him being fully across the line of scrimmage when he throws the ball pic.twitter.com/OEYU9NtYzS
— Bad Sports Refs (@BadSportsRefs) September 3, 2021
Waiting to get his turn in USC transfer Jack Sears, who impressed in his limited time last season, earning a 93.3 PFF grade in 33 dropbacks.
Whoever is starting, though, will need to take advantage of the UTEP secondary and they should be able to since they have one of the best receivers in the country in Shakur.
Shakur was graded as the No. 9 receiver last season, per PFF, after catching 52 balls on 76 targets for 719 yards and six touchdowns in only seven games.
The problem for Boise State in this matchup will be in the trenches and in the run game.
Against UCF, it gained only 26 yards on 20 attempts. Boise State did bring back four offensive linemen, but it doesn’t look like the rushing attack is going to get better any time soon.
The Broncos ranked 110th in Offensive Line Yards, 123rd rushing explosiveness, and gained only 3.3 yards per carry in 2020. So, going up against a good UTEP defensive line is going to be a challenge.
Boise State was top-20 nationally in terms of Passing and Rushing Success Rate allowed last season, but it got torched by Gus Malzahn’s offense Sept. 2. Dillon Gabriel threw for four touchdowns and 8.6 yards per attempt, while UCF racked up 5.3 yards per carry on the ground.
The secondary is going to be a big issue for Boise State going forward because it lost its top two corners and was the 94th-ranked team in terms of coverage last season, per PFF.
With UTEP having an experienced quarterback and two of the best receivers in Conference USA, it should be able to throw the ball consistently on Friday night.
The front seven returns a lot of the talent and was good overall against the run last season, ranking top-40 in Defensive Line Yards, Stuff Rate, and Power Success Rate Allowed.
So, it will be interesting to see whether or not UTEP’s rushing attack can actually run the ball consistently against the Broncos’ front seven.
UTEP vs. Boise State Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how UTEP and Boise State match up statistically:
UTEP Offense vs. Boise State Defense
Boise State Offense vs. UTEP Defense
Pace of Play / Other
There are a couple of paths for UTEP to cover here.
First, it needs to throw the ball consistently on Boise State’s secondary, which it should have no problem doing since the Broncos are breaking in two new corners and owned a bottom-40 secondary in college football last season.
Secondly, it has to stop Boise State’s rushing attack, which it should be able to with its entire defensive line back from last season — a group that ranked 44th in Defensive Line Yards Allowed.
If the Miners succeed in those two areas, they should be able to cover the 26-point spread.
UTEP vs. Boise State Betting Pick
Boise State opened as a -27 favorite but has quickly been bet down to -25.5 at some books.
I have Boise State projected only as a -19.05 favorite, and if you look at Collin Wilson’s PRO Projections, he has Boise State projected as a -24.3 favorite.
As of writing, there’s still a +26.5 out there at BetMGM, which I think still has a little value.