Boise State-UL Lafayette
Time: NOON EDT
Spread: BOI -19
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Boise State Broncos finished last season 9-4 with a 5-3 Mountain West mark. The team knocked off Northern Illinois in impressive 55-7 fashion at its Poinsettia Bowl game. Building momentum on that should be in order with nine returning starters and an experienced excellent QB in sophomore Brett Rypien.
Rypien made first-team All-Mountain West in his first NCAA season, and he has a great WR to launch the ball to in senior Thomas Sperbeck. Behind him is a strong running back in tailback Jeremy McNichols.
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Head coach Bryan Harsin is 21-6 at Boise State and 28-11 overall in his four years of coaching, and he is one of the best play-callers in Boise State history.
The team lost coordinators the last two seasons, but Zak Hill takes over as co-coordinator with long-time assistant Scott Huff. Rypien began last year on a redshirt track, and he threw for 20 TD passes while managing 304.8 passing yards per game. His arm is strong but needs more accuracy and consistency in 2016.
The Broncos averaged 501.5 yards per game last season, though, ranking No. 15 in the nation and consistently proving to be a huge problem for Mountain West opponents’ defenses. There is a lack of depth at QB behind Rypien, but if he stays healthy Boise State should be putting up big numbers again offensively.
It is defensively where things will be far dicier maybe with just four returning starters. Two of those four starters are in the secondary in CB Jonathan Moxey and S Chanceller James. Both are seniors, but the defense lacks a lot of experience outside of that tandem.
The Poinsettia Bowl was the high point for the defense though, when it allowed just 33 yards while blanking Northern Illinois. Strong games like that were not uncommon for Boise, which ranked No. 18 in scoring defense and No. 12 in yards allowed (20.2 points and 318.3 yards per game).
The Broncos roster turnaround will make this something of a transition year, and it lacks depth at many key positions. Five changes in offensive play callers have not helped, and the team is on its third defensive coordinator in four years. Even so, this is still a team that will be tough in the MAC if it can address some rather glaring issues. Week 1 should be an easy matchup this week though against UL-Lafayette, as 19-point favorites at oddsmaker 5dimes.
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UL-Lafayette finished last season 4-8 after four seasons of sanctioned football in which it vacated a total of 22 wins. Getting the program back on track has proved tricky with a lot of inconsistency for the Ragin Cajuns. Can they be in the mix for the Sun Belt title in 2016? It depends.
They had an easy path to a Bowl last year, but clearly fell far short of that. The team was 4-4 before dropping its final four games due to a banged up defense. The offense also was not as explosive or consistent as it usually is, and as the year went on the defense only got worse.
RB Elijah McGuire and QB Jalen Nixon are going to be counted upon heavily with QB Brooks Haack graduated and most of the main WRs gone as well. The OL also lost three starters, so this offense is going to have a lot of problems, especially early in the season.
Defensively, the secondary is stacked and could be the best in the Sun Belt. This is a decent team in a pitiful conference that could eke out nine wins on talent alone. But there are plenty of issues to be addressed by head coach Mark Hudspeth, and the Ragin Cajuns program has been in disarray with NCAA sanctions for half-decade now.
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