The Boise State Broncos will be a long way from the blue turf when they take on the Virginia Cavaliers on Friday night in Charlottesville. The Broncos will also be making the long road trip with a new face and a new voice under center. Mike London’s been on the hot seat for a long time at UVA. Would an upset win here turn the temperature down a bit?
Boise State at Virginia
Date/Time: Friday, September 25 8:00 pm ET
College Football Betting Favorite: Boise State -2.5
Bryan Harsin fell to 3-3 ATS as road chalk with Boise’s Week 2 loss to BYU. They entered the fourth quarter with a 24-14 lead and couldn’t get the job done. Speaking of not getting the job done, Mike London narrowly missed an upset that could have saved his job when UVA lost in the final minute at home to Notre Dame two weeks ago. A close win over William & Mary last week didn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Brett Rypien will make his first career start as a true freshman when this game kicks off on Friday night. Nephew of former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien, the 6-foot-2, 185 lbs. QB was cool, calm, and collected last week against a severely overmatched Idaho State team. Rypien finished 8-of-9 for 126 yards and then exited the game with a comfortable lead. Bryan Harsin will rely heavily on the run this week with sophomore Jeremy McNichols and senior Kelsey Young. McNichols and Young, a Stanford transfer, combined for five rushing touchdowns and 107 yards on 23 attempts against the Bengals. McNichols has seven rushing scores on the season, but he has only averaged 3.8 yards per carry on his 54 tries.
The Boise State defense was gashed by big plays against BYU. The Cougars had 309 passing yards on just 17 completions. Other than that game, the Broncos haven’t been tested much because Washington is in shambles under former head coach Chris Petersen and Idaho State was outclassed. The Broncos did hold BYU to just 1.8 yards per carry and should be able to control the line of scrimmage this week as well. Boise State returned 17 starters from last year’s team, so the travel to an unfamiliar venue shouldn’t be that big of an issue.
Brett Rypien was one of the top quarterback recruits in the state of Washington, so the talent should be there, even if Bryan Harsin has to rely on it a lot quicker than he wanted to.
Greyson Lambert transferred to Georgia and that left junior Matt Johns in charge of the offense. All in all, Johns hasn’t played that bad this season, considering Virginia started the year with a trip to UCLA and a home game against Notre Dame. Johns threw just one interception over two games and then threw two interceptions against William & Mary, but he did complete 17 of his 23 tosses. One thing to note about Virginia’s offense is that running back Taquan Mizzell is the second-leading receiver and leading rusher. Mizzell has 17 catches, second only to Canaan Severin, who has 19. If Boise State can neutralize Mizzell, who has 56 touches through three games, it’s hard to see Virginia moving the ball a whole lot.
Mike London’s defense played admirably against UCLA and Notre Dame, all things considered. They gave up 34 points in each of those games, but they were a clear underdog in both of them as well. Only one of the top six tacklers from last season returned and that’s the unit’s best player, Quin Blanding. The true sophomore was one of the top safety recruits in the country and decided on Virginia. This will be a stiff test for the Virginia front because Boise State is very physical in the trenches. William & Mary was 7-of-19 on third down and ran for 145 yards, so the Cavaliers better bring a better effort this week.
A loss here would drop Virginia to 1-3 and they would be in line to miss a bowl game for the fourth straight year on London’s watch. This is a big game for the program and for London’s job security.
Boise State Broncos vs. Virginia Cavaliers Free Pick: Boise State -2.5
That was probably a letdown spot against William & Mary for UVA, but that certainly wasn’t the kind of performance that would make me want to back the Cavaliers. Brett Rypien actually brings a lot of unknowns into this game, because there’s not going to be a whole lot of film on him. That should help the Broncos and they should go out on the road and cover this number. Boise State at BYU, in a brutal road environment, was -2.5. The travel is a factor that accounts for maybe a couple points, but BYU and Virginia are not that close from a power ratings standpoint.
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Good luck this season!