This week’s pre­dic­tions

The Idaho Statesman - - Sports -

Boise State is a 2.5-point un­der­dog Fri­day night against Fresno State — the first time in 19 years that the Bron­cos have been home un­der­dogs in a con­fer­ence game. The over/un­der is 54, a num­ber the teams didn’t ap­proach when they played in the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale in Fresno and Moun­tain West cham­pi­onship game in Boise last year. The home team won both games.

Fresno State in the next nine days has a chance to prove it’s bet­ter than Boise State and San Diego State, the two pro­grams that have com­bined to win the past four Moun­tain West cham­pi­onship games. Fresno State beat both of them in the reg­u­lar sea­son last year.

Boise State hopes to prove that it’s still the team to beat.

The key matchup could be the Bron­cos’ bat­tered but re­silient de­fense against the Bull­dogs’ im­prov­ing of­fense. Line­backer Ri­ley Whim­pey will be the eighth de­fen­sive starter to miss at least one game, and his torn ACL marked the sec­ond time this year that the Bron­cos’ lead­ing tack­ler was lost for the sea­son.

My pick (7-2 straight up, 3-6 ATS):

The Bull­dogs outscored the Bron­cos 42-34 on ag­gre­gate in back-to-back meet­ings last sea­son — and Fresno State def­i­nitely comes into this game with more mo­men­tum. I’m a lit­tle sus­pect of the Bull­dogs be­cause of the weak sched­ule, but the met­rics say this de­fense is fan­tas­tic re­gard­less. That’s a prob­lem for Boise State’s in­con­sis­tent of­fense, which will need quar­ter­back Brett Ryp­ien to play one of the best games of his ca­reer. Ryp­ien threw 61 passes against Fresno State last year with­out a touch­down. De­fen­sively, the Bron­cos have been ab­so­lutely rav­aged by in­juries — and that’ll be the dif­fer­ence on Fri­day night.

Fresno State 27, Boise State 20

Fresno State per­spec­tive, from Robert Kuwada of The Fresno Bee (op­po­nent view is 8-1, 4-5):

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