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Boise State Broncos vs. Oregon Ducks Point Spread - Pick

Boise State Broncos (10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. Oregon Ducks (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS)
Las Vegas Bowl
Date/Time: Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 3:30PM EST
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: ABC

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: BSU +7.5/ORE -7.5
Over/Under Total: 59.5

On December 16, the Boise State Broncos take on the Oregon Ducks in the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium. The Mountain West champion Broncos look to close the season with a nice win over a dangerous Pac-12 team in the Ducks. But according to oddsmakers, a Mountain West champion with ten wins is only good for being a 7.5-point dog to a middling Pac-12 Conference squad. Oregon last saw action on November 25 with a 69-10 romp over in-state rivals the Oregon State Beavers. The Broncos last played on the 2nd of December, beating Fresno State 17-14 in the conference title game.

Boise State looked ragged to start the season, following a 2-2 start that included a monumental collapse in what looked to be a sure win against Washington State and a 19-point loss to Virginia. But they got it together and went on a run of 7 straight wins, with some nice ones along the way. They hit a wall with Fresno State and got the rare opportunity to make that loss right the following week in the MWC title game, which they did. All told, they finished the season with flair and have some decent momentum heading into this matchup.

On offense, the Broncos aren't as high-flying a group as some Boise State teams we've seen in recent seasons. They still can make it happen, though, with quarterback Brett Rypien, WR Cedrick Wilson, and other nice pieces on this side of the ball. Rypien has a lot of experience and showed a lot of guts this season by finishing strongly after so many tough early-season moments. Wilson has gone for 1290 in the air and has a playmaking knack, which he also flaunts in the return game. Sean Modster, AJ Richardson, and Jake Roh are also useful pieces. Alex Mattison has run for over 1000 yards, while adding a nice component in the short-pass game. Mattison and Roh are iffy for this game even with the extra time to get ready and having them in there would be a big help.

The Boise St. defense might be the best part of the team. Again, the early-season presented some challenges, but they overcame them and went on an extended run of allowing very little to opposing defenses. They acquitted themselves well against offenses like Fresno and San Diego State, though Oregon could be a little more-explosive, especially on the ground, than the teams they have faced this season. After giving up a lot in a high-scoring shootout win over Colorado State, they have been more-stout and they will now try to flex their muscles at a higher level. And they have some of the playmaking ability to do it. LB Leighton Vander Esch is a force in the middle, with big help and a nice pass-rush from Jabril Frazier and Curtis Weaver along the line. Tyler Horton has three picks and Kekoa Nawahine is also a force in the secondary. Can this unit contain all the Ducks' weapons?

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Oregon scored two wins to close the regular season at 7-5, a campaign that saw some nice moments and some rocky ones, as well. They are one of the teams facing a coaching change, with Willie Taggart off to Florida State. The Ducks hired from within, meaning they will be with new coach Mario Cristobal for this game. Cristobal served as offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator and it'll interesting to see how it will all resonate. Cristobal is apparently well-liked, so maybe what on the surface looks like a drawback will have an energizing affect on the team. Helping their position is a strong finish to what was a hard season, along with getting QB Justin Herbert back the last few weeks, which has helped the offense put up a combined 117 points in their last two games.

It's not so much that Herbert gives the Ducks some high-flying aerial offense, but his presence is helpful. He can keep mistakes to a minimum and has more of a knack for generating positivity on this offense. He ran in a TD in his last game and has been bringing out more of a desultory receiving crew where the leading ball-catcher on the team is below 400 yards receiving. The run-game has been what has kept the Oregon offense dangerous this season and we saw that in the last game, with Kani Benoit and Royce Freeman both running for exactly 122 yards. Freeman has a big 1475 yards on the season, with both he and Benoit having found the end zone 13 times.

In giving up 28 points a game, the Oregon defense hasn't been what anyone would call "good" perhaps, but they've shown decent signs of late. It's important to consider the teams they faced and to ponder how Boise State's defense would look numbers-wise if subjected to the same opposition Oregon had to face this season in a conference where there are very few lay-ups. They have good players on all levels, with some leaky areas, as well. Corners Arrion Springs and Udo Amadi have been useful in the secondary. Linebackers Troy Dye and Jonha Moi have gotten after quarterbacks this season, aided up-front by Jalen Jelks and Henry Mondeaux. Again, they haven't been great, but they've faced a handful of offenses that can surpass whatever Boise State brings to the table on offense.

Granted, it's not hard to picture Oregon winning this game. And while we don't want to get caught up in principles that kind of remove a true matchup-analysis from the equation, but some things line up well for a Boise cover. They're getting better than a TD at a MWC venue as conference champions against a so-so Pac-12 team. It's a spot in which they can thrive. The lack of overall horsepower on offense is a concern if this becomes a foot-race, but I see the Broncos keeping this one respectable en route to a cover.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Boise State Broncos plus 7.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Boise State vs. Oregon game from the comfort of home by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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