Fiesta Bowl College Football Pick: Boise State +3 vs. Arizona

Willie Bee

Thursday, December 11, 2014 2:13 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 2:13 PM UTC

The Fiesta Bowl has a real western feel to it with Pac-12 runner-up Arizona taking on MWC winner Boise State. Read on for a preview and free college football pick.

You'll have to excuse me for a moment or two while I finish this plate of crow. Yum, yum, and a big thanks go out to Bryan Harsin and the Boise State Broncos for serving it up so deliciously.

You see, back in March, I picked the Broncos to be a program on the way down for a few years. Yet here they are, part of the New Year's Six in the new College Football Playoff lineup and looking for their 12th win under the 1st-year head coach.

Boise State will tangle with the Arizona Wildcats in this year's Fiesta Bowl that has dropped the corn chip sponsor and instead conned some electronics manufacturer to throw in a lot of money. I'm guessing this will not be of much interest to a large chunk of the East and Midwest as those folks prepare for their New Year's Even night out, the kickoff coming a little after 4 PM (ET). But it should be a big hit in the West and Southwest, and the sports books believe it will be a tight, entertaining affair.

At least that's the face they're putting on with the early numbers. Arizona began the college football betting proceedings at -4, but the 'Cats are now giving up just 3 with that spread showing signs of getting even tighter.

SBR's live college football odds first reported a 69 point total for the 1st-ever meeting between Boise State and Arizona, and that is where the total still stands.


Broncos Tow 8-Game Win Steak Into Bowl Season
The College Football Playoff selection committee is no doubt thankful that Air Force upset Boise State on the final Saturday of September. Favored by 13, the Broncs turned it over seven times -- SEVEN! -- in losing by 14 to the Falcons. Had Harsin's team won that one, the CFP voters would've been explaining to another 1-loss team without big TV pull why they weren't in the gridiron's version of the Final Four.

Compounding that defeat for Boise State was the offense suffering a big blow with the loss of wide receiver Matt Miller to a season-ending ankle injury. Miller is the all-time leader in receptions at Boise State (244), 28 of them this year before the injury.

The loss to Air Force left the Broncos 3-2 to begin the season after beginning with a 35-13 setback in Atlanta to Ole Miss in Week 1, so my early prognostication was looking good.  What followed was an 8-game win streak for BSU and the Mountain West Conference crown, however, beating West Division winner Fresno State twice along the way.


Will 'Cats Get A Home Feel In House Of Their Rivals?
Arizona couldn't beat Oregon twice for the Pac-12 title like Boise did with Fresno. The Wildcats pulled off one of the season's biggest upsets as 3-TD underdogs to the Ducks in Eugene to begin October, but couldn't match that feat in the conference championship this past week. Oregon pretty much chewed up and spit out Rich Rodriguez and his gang, 51-13, to gain a little double-revenge following the Wildcats' similar upset in 2013.

The Wildcats bring a well-balanced offense into this tussle, averaging nearly 184 yards per game on the ground and another 277 through the air. They also ranked in the top 25 in the country in turnover margin (+8), giving it away only 16 times during the 2014 campaign while freshman QB Anu Solomon recorded a fine 27:7 TD-to-interception ratio without a pick in his last three games.

There isn't any reason for Arizona fans not to show up in Tucson, but will they really feel at home playing on the home turf of rival Arizona State. The roof in Tucson also guarantees weather won't be a factor.

This will be just the second team from the Big 5 conferences that Boise State has faced, and first since meeting Ole Miss in late-August. The Broncos have a defense that's capable of slowing the Wildcats, and an offense proficient enough to churn out some points against an Arizona defense that ranked in the bottom 20% of the country. I'm taking the points for my free college football pick in the Fiesta Bowl.

College Football Pick: Boise State +3 at 5Dimes

Season: 61-43-1 (+13.70)

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