College Football Picks ATS/Total: Utah State vs. Boise State

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 1:18 PM GMT

A spot in the Mountain West Championship Game is on the line Saturday night in Idaho as Boise State hosts Utah State . The Broncos are 8.5-point favorites on NCAAF odds with a total of 55.5.

Clinching Scenarios
Boise State, Colorado State and Utah State all enter this weekend at 6-1 in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West. Let's start with the simplest clinching opportunity first. If Boise State wins this game, it will play in the MWC Championship Game. It also would host it -- the game is held at the site of the school with the highest College Football Playoff selection committee ranking. That surely will be whichever team wins the Mountain Division.

Boise is in with a win because obviously Utah State would add a loss and even if Colorado State wins at Air Force on Friday, the Rams lost 37-24 at Boise State early this season. However, CSU beat Utah State 16-13 on Oct. 18 so the Aggies need a Rams loss (very possible) and victory here to win the division.

The West Division is a total mess with San Diego State and Fresno State atop it at 4-3, and Nevada and Hawaii at 3-4. Here's how that works. Fresno State will win the division if it beats Hawaii on Saturday in Fresno. The Bulldogs should as they are 11-point favorites at sportsbooks. If Fresno State loses, San Diego State can win the division by beating San Jose State on Saturday in San Diego. If both lose, Hawaii could win the division but would obviously need to beat Fresno and also have Nevada lose Saturday at UNLV. If Hawaii and Nevada win and San Diego State loses, the three finish at 4-4 with Fresno State and FSU wins the tiebreaker. Got all that?

Boise State is the -200 favorite to win the conference championship at sportsbooks. USU is +1500 on NCAA football odds.

 

The Matchup
Boise State (9-2 overall) opened the season with a very respectable neutral-site loss to Ole Miss and the only other defeat was at Air Force in late September. Since then the Broncos have largely rolled in winning six straight. They haven't scored less than 37 points in that stretch. BSU put up 63 in last week's blowout win in Wyoming that really must have excited first-year Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin. Why? The team's ninth win triggered an automatic one-year contract extension that will be worth at least $1.45 million to Harsin.

The Broncos have one of the best players you may not have heard of in running back Jay Ajayi. He rushed for 110 yards and two scores last week and also had a 73-yard screen pass touchdown. The junior from Texas has carried 276 times for 1,390 yards and 19 scores while catching 44 balls for 535 yards and four touchdowns. The Broncos rank eighth nationally in total offense, putting up an average of 513.4 yards per game. Boise State ranks first in the Mountain West and ninth in the nation in scoring offense (40.0 ppg). QB Grant Hedrick ranks No. 2 nationally with a completion percentage of 71.3. He is prone to interceptions, however, throwing four each in the losses to Ole Miss and Air Force.

That Boise offense will be tested by a very good Utah State defense. USU (9-3 overall) ranks first in the Mountain West and 10th in the nation in scoring defense (18.3 ppg). No team has scored more than 21 on the Aggies since Sept. 13. Senior linebacker Zach Vigil ranks first in the Mountain West and ninth in the nation in tackles for loss (1.54 per game), second in the MW and eighth in the nation in tackles (11.1 per game) overall. Utah State's defense has forced 28 turnovers in its last 11 games overall and has scored four touchdowns this season.

The Utah State offense is nowhere near as potent as Boise's, but the Aggies have a keeper in freshman QB Kent Myers, who is 4-0 as starter. On the season, Myers is 58-of-79 (.734) passing for 639 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in five games. He has also rushed for 197 yards on 30 carries with three touchdowns.

Boise State is 6-5 against the spread at sportsbooks this season and 8-3 'over/under.' Utah State is 6-6 ATS and 6-6 'over/under' on NCAA football odds.

 

All-Time Series
Boise State won 34-23 at Utah State last season. Neither current starting QB played. Ajayi had 22 carries for 109 yards and a score. The Aggies are 4-14 all time against the Broncos, with the last victory coming at home in 1997. Utah State is 2-7 at Boise but hasn't played there since 2010.


Free NCAAF picks:  Boise State and the 'under' is our NCAA football pick for this late Saturday game, even though Utah State has won 13 of its past 14 conference road games (only two under Myers). The Broncos have covered seven of their past nine at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The 'under' is 6-1 at sportsbooks in USU's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. 

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