Boise State vs. UNLV College Football Picks: Bet Rebels to Cover +20 at Home

Darin Zank

Friday, October 30, 2015 9:02 PM UTC

Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 9:02 PM UTC

It might look like a mismatch on paper but this handicapper is wondering if there might be an upset against the college football odds when Boise State visits UNLV Saturday afternoon.

Broncos-Rebels Betting Odds
Most of the college football odds market opened this game with Boise State favored by 20 points, with an OVER/UNDER of right around 55. As of Friday morning that spread was holding steady, while the total now sat at 56.


The Situation
Boise State is 6-2 on the season, 4-4 ATS, after beating Wyoming last week 34-14 but coming up short against the spread as a 34-point favorite. The Broncos led the Cowboys 17-0 after one quarter and 34-7 after three, but took their foot off the gas and declined to score in the fourth. On the day BSU outgained Wyoming 418-233 and outrushed the Pokes 207-110, but in retrospect that 34-point spread was probably inflated by about a touchdown.

That's the problem with betting good teams at home; you're always battling inflated spreads.

Boise State opened this season with a 16-13 victory over Washington, then lost at BYU, then won four in a row both SU and ATS. But the Broncos then lost at Utah State 52-26 when they turned the ball over eight times! Boise State turned the ball over just once last week.

UNLV, meanwhile, is 2-5 SU this season but 4-3 ATS. The Rebs opened this campaign, their first under new head coach Tony Sanchez, with three straight losses, but two covers. They started off with a 38-30 defeat at Northern Illinois, but easily covered as 21-point dogs; they then lost at home to UCLA 37-3, missing the cover at +32; they then lost at Michigan 28-7 but covered at +34.

UNLV then won back-to-back games, beating Idaho State 80-8 (yes, that score is correct), then upsetting rival Nevada in Reno 23-17, taking that game outright as a six-point dog. Those two victories equaled last year's total.

Three weeks ago the Rebels, without their starting quarterback, rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to force overtime at San Jose State, but lost 33-27. And two weeks ago UNLV lost at Fresno State 31-28, after blowing a 14-point lead. The Rebs then had last week off.

Big-picture, Boise State went off as the favorite to win the MWC's Mountain Division this season, because it returned 17 starters from a team that went 12-2 last season. On the other end of the spectrum UNLV was supposed to finish last in the West Division because it only returned 10 starters from a team that went 2-11 last year. At 3-1 in conference play the Broncos are tied for the lead in the Mountain, while at 1-2 the Rebs sit in fourth place in the West.

These programs haven't met since Boise State beat UNLV back-to-back back in 2011-12 by scores of 48-21 and 32-7. But the Rebs covered both those games, as dogs of 42 and 28 points.


Broncos-Rebels, Statistically Speaking
Boise State has outgained opponents this season by a 456-266 yards-per-game margin, and outrushed foes 175-81. The Broncos have outgained and outrushed six of eight opponents this season.

UNLV has been outgained by a 420-371 margin, and outrushed 214-182. The Rebels have been outgained by six of seven opponents, but have won the ground battle in three of their last four games.


Injury Update
UNLV senior quarterback Blake Decker has missed the last two games – both losses – with a separated non-throwing shoulder, but reports indicate he could come back Saturday.

Over on the opposite sidelines Boise State is still playing without QB Ryan Finely, but freshman Brett Rypien has stepped in and thrown 10 touchdown passes, against four interceptions, over the last five games.


Broncos-Rebels Betting Analysis
Boise State isn't quite the monster at the moment it once was, while Coach Sanchez seems to have upgraded this UNLV program already. And the week off might help. This handicapper often likes taking the better teams when they play on the road, because home-field advantage is often over-rated, but in this spot we like the home dog for our college football picks.

College Football Pick: Rebels +20 (-108) at Pinnacle

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