College Football Betting Picks: Washington Huskies at #23 Boise State Broncos

Washington Huskies at #23 Boise State Broncos
Bronco Stadium – Boise, Idaho
Friday, September 4, 2015, 10:15 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Boise State -10 1/2
Current Line: Boise State -11
Opening Total: 57 1/2
Current Total: 55 1/2
Opening Money Line: BSU -455 / Washington +378
Current Money Line: BSU -440 / Washington +367

Boise State is a 10.5 point favorite over former coach Chris Petersen and the Washington Huskies.
Boise State is an 11 point favorite over former coach Chris Petersen and the Washington Huskies.

Chris Petersen coached the Boise State Broncos for eight seasons before leaving for the Washington Huskies last year. Now, Petersen returns to Boise as he brings his Huskies to the blue turf in the season opener for both schools.

This is the fourth meeting between Boise State and Washington. The Huskies lead the series 2-1. This is the first meeting between the teams in Boise. The Broncos won the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl but lost in Seattle in the season opener in 2013 38-6. The Huskies also won in Seattle in 2007.

Washington went 8-5 in the regular season including 4-5 in the Pac 12 North in the first season under Petersen. Washington did not beat one team who had a winning record last year. Washington would end up losing to Oklahoma State 30-22 in the Cactus Bowl to fall to 8-6 on the season.

Boise State went 12-2 under first year coach Bryan Harsin. Harsin who had been the school’s long time offensive coordinator before becoming the OC at Texas and head coach at Arkansas State. After three seasons of being away from the school, Harsin returned as head coach when Petersen left the school. Harsin continued the success Petersen had started as the only losses came to Ole Miss and Air Force. The Broncos ended the season on a 9 game winning streak including 28-14 over Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship game. Boise State would qualify for one of the New Year’s Six Bowl games and upset Arizona 38-30 in the Fiesta Bowl.

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Last season, the offense wasn’t spectacular by any means for Washington. The Huskies averaged 389 yards and 30 points per game. The passing game ranked 11th in the Pac 12 at 200 yards per game. Washington gave up 411 yards per game on defense last year. The Huskies were #123 out of 128 FBS teams in pass defense allowing 287 yards per game but #22 in rush defense at 124 yards per game. Washington allowed only 25 points a game because they forced 29 turnovers last year.

The Huskies will have to break in a new starter at quarterback because last year’s quarterback Cyler Miles had to end his football career because of a hip injury. Miles threw for 2,367 yards with 17 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and also rushed for 307 yards with 4 touchdowns. Three players were competing in the spring, including junior Jeff Lindquist, redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels and true freshman Jake Browning.  Lindquist started the season opener at Hawaii last year and is the only quarterback on the roster with FBS game experience. Petersen has yet to announce his starter.

Regardless of who the quarterback is, the Huskies will lean heavily on the running game with a pair of talented running backs. Dwayne Washington had 132 carries for 697 yards and 9 touchdowns, plus 15 catches. Washington has breakaway speed and had four touchdown runs of 51 yards or more in the second half of the season when he took over as the starter.  Lavon Coleman had 138 carries for 565 yards and a touchdown, along with 9 catches. Look for Washington to get most of the carries if he can stay healthy.

Jaydon Mickens will be the go-to receiver again after making 60 catches for 617 yards and 4 touchdowns. However, the receiving unit took a hit when John Ross III suffered a leg injury in May and will miss the 2015 season. He had 17 catches for 371 yards and 4 touchdowns, and also rushed for a touchdown. He was expected to move to wide receiver full time after starting at cornerback last season. Tight end Joshua Perkins had 25 catches for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns last year and is back for his senior season. Dante Pettis had 17 catches for 259 yards and a touchdown, and also returned a punt for a touchdown. DiAndre Campbell (San Francisco 49ers) and Kasen Williams (Seattle Seahawks) are both in the NFL now.

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Last year, the Broncos averaged 494 yards per game on offense including 280 passing and 214 rushing yards. Boise State averaged 40 points a game. The Broncos were in the top 14 nationally in total offense and scoring. Last year, the Boise State defense allowed 375 yards per game including 233 passing and 143 rushing yards. The Broncos allowed 27 points per game. BSU was +7 in turnovers in 2014.

Quarterback Grant Hedrick has graduated. Last year, he threw for 3,696 yards with 23 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, and he also rushed for 592 yards on 155 carries with 8 touchdowns. Sophomore Ryan Finley will take over for Hedrick. However, an April arrest for illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors, could lead to disciplinary action. Finley threw for 161 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception in limited action last year behind Hedrick.

Running back Jay Ajayi is now with the Miami Dolphins. He had 347 carries for 1,823 yards with 28 touchdowns, along with 50 catches for 535 yards and 4 touchdowns. If he had played for one of the Power Five schools then he would have almost certainly been a Heisman contender with those kinds of numbers. Sophomore Jeremy McNichols is the favorite to replace Ajayi. He played both receiver and running back last season. He rushed for 159 yards with a touchdown, and also had 15 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown. Kelsey Young,a graduate transfer from Stanford is eligible to play for Boise State this season. He was the second leading rusher for the Cardinal in 2014 with 331 yards. He and his younger brother Cory, a redshirt freshman,  will get plenty of carries as well.

Receiver Thomas Sperbeck is back after making 51 catches for 877 yards and 3 touchdowns, and even throwing a touchdown pass. Shane Williams-Rhodes had 68 catches for 585 yards with 7 touchdowns, and also rushed for 179 yards on 15 carries. The Broncos must replace receiver Matt Miller who had 28 catches for 461 yards and 3 touchdowns, and also threw a touchdown pass. Chaz Anderson also returns after making 21 catches for 456 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tight end Jake Roh is also back after making 35 catches for 408 yards and 2 touchdowns. Boise sometimes uses a two tight end set and Holden Huff will get some targets after making 10 catches last year.

Washington is 1-4 ATS in non-conference and Friday games. Boise State is 4-0 ATS in non-conference games, 5-1 in September and 19-9 in Friday games.

While Washington is rebuilding with only 9 starters back, Boise returns 17 starters and should compete for a New Year’s Six Bowl berth again. Boise should win this game rather easily.

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  1. I stopped reading when you typed: “Harsin continued the success Petersen had STARTED” ….. Boise State had been successful for 10 years prior to Petersen’s tenure as head coach. There are too many people who imply or literally state that Boise State BECAME successful under coach Pete and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Please rewrite the article and state the facts that Boise has been successful regardless of the head coach for over a decade, then you’re article will be useful.
    Thank you!

  2. You are right, Boise State was successful under former coaches Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins. I should have said Boise State didn’t become a household name nationally until the upset over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in 2006, in the first season under Petersen. Much like people associate the success of Gonzaga basketball to Mark Few when they were first successful under Dan Monson.

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