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Virginia Cavaliers vs. Boise State Broncos Point Spread - Pick

Virginia Cavaliers (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Boise State Broncos (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date/Time: Friday September 22, 2017 at 8PM EST
Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
TV: ESPN2

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: UVA +12.5/BSU -12.5
Over/Under Total: 51

The Virginia Cavaliers make the trip to Idaho to face Boise State in week four college football action on Friday. Boise St. played last Thursday, beating New Mexico at home, 28-14. It helped atone for a brutal loss the previous week to Washington State when they collapsed epically. They look forward to now hosting a team they beat on the road two years ago, 56-14. A lot has changed since then. Virginia prevailed on Saturday in a 38-18 win over Connecticut to take their record to 2-1. Can they spring the upset in Boise?

This is a strange Boise team. At their best, they look to have a lot of the traits of a typically-good Broncos team—a potent offense with a quarterback who is better than any in the conference, along with a defense packed with different playmakers. It's just that the application of those talents has been uneven so far this season. Still, they are 2-1 ATS, but to lose that Washington St. game was a high crime and the short week seemed to affect them against New Mexico as they won, but failed to cover the spread. The offense labored for much of the game and they look for better this week, eight days separated from that game.

With Brett Rypien apparently suffering a concussion against Washington State, Montell Cozart was giving the starting gig. He had already been getting some playing time and is a burgeoning dual-threat, but his performance wasn't good enough to usurp the third-year starter in Brett Rypien (questionable), who just so happened to have one of his best games against this Virginia team two seasons ago on the road. In Thursday's win over New Mexico, Cozart ran the ball well, picking up 71 yards. Between Alexander Mattison and Ryan Wolpin, the gaping void left by Jeremy McNichols looms large. When looking at a tip-top Boise St. team, you usually see a game-changing playmaker or two and that's not so much the case on this squad. Tight end Jake Roh was big against UNM, hauling in a pair of TD receptions, but Cozart wasn't really able to bring out the best in his playmakers on a consistent basis.

The defense for Boise State has been wildly erratic, already in just a three-game window. In game one against Troy, the "D" grew better over the course of the game. With a 31-10 lead the following week against the Cougars, the opposite occurred with a colossal meltdown. Last Thursday, they were pretty good, with 7 of New Mexico's 14 points coming late on a meaningless score. They held the dangerous New Mexico option run to less than 4 yards a carry. Leader of the defense, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, had an interception and was all over the field. With guys like Tyson Maeva, Reid Harrison-Ducros, and a pair of nice safeties in Kekoa Nawahine and Cameron Hartsfield, there are some good players on this side of the ball. It's still hard not to take them to task for finding a way to lose that Cougars game, but against this level team, the defense stands out as being pretty good.

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Following a perfunctory week one win over William & Mary and a loss to Indiana, Virginia takes to the road for the first time this season. The offense offered some good signs on Saturday, especially in the passing game. They showed they could be a dangerous foe for anyone who overlooks them on a given day. After a 2-10 record in Bronco Mendenhall's first season at the helm, he looks for better this season and they've already equaled their win-total of 2016.

Cavaliers Quarterback Kurt Benkert looks better this season in his senior year. On Saturday, he threw for a school-record 455 yards with three touchdowns. After struggling to run the ball in the first two games of the season, the run-game also sprung to life, averaging 5.5 yards a run and led by Jordan Ellis, who had 95 yards and a touchdown. Olamide Zaccheaus also had some useful runs and also had 122 yards and a TD aerially. Senior receivers Doni Dowling and Andre Levrone were also big, both going over 100 yards and a touchdown reception. We saw some better play up-front, but based on how they played in the first two weeks, the jury is still out.

The Virginia defense once again relies on the top-tackling tandem last season in the ACC. Linebacker Micah Kiser and free safety Quin Blanding are great assets on the defense, but much of their time is spent making up for the deficiencies around them. Kiser had two sacks on Saturday and freshman Brenton Nelson, a good running mate with Blanding, picked off a pass and had some nice plays on the afternoon. This is a good test for this group. Boise State's offense has been slow to click this season, but the Cavaliers "D" should still be pushed to its limit. And a Virginia cover comes down a lot to this group. If they can keep Boise State under 40 points, a cover is in the cards. If they show they are not up-to-snuff and allow the Broncos to march up and down the field, it's going to be tough.

I see the week-plus of off-time being good for a Boise team that had been put through the ringer physically and emotionally. They should be a bit more-refreshed back at home. But scoring a conclusive win and seeing their QB set a school record in passing should have Virginia is a nice position or at least feeling pretty good about themselves. And while I can picture a gritty performance from the Cavaliers this week, I see Boise gaining steam late en route to the cover.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Boise State Broncos minus 12.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Cavaliers vs. Broncos game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!

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