The Boise State Broncos may lead the Group of 5 teams in the College Football Playoff ranking, but they may not control their own destiny. It all depends on how the committee views a team that may not even win its own division. Boise State can ill afford a slip-up this week as a four-touchdown favorite against the UNLV Rebels and they’ll also need to beat Air Force on the road next week. It will also take a New Mexico win over Wyoming, otherwise the Broncos will miss the Mountain West Conference title game. They’ll take things one step at a time, beginning with what should be a bloodbath on the blue turf.
UNLV vs. Boise State College Football Preview
Date/Time: Friday November 18, 9:00 p.m. ET
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: Boise State -28
If UNLV can pull off the unthinkable this week in Boise, the Rebels would be in position to seize their first bowl berth since 2013 and just their second since 2000, but that’s a tall order. The Rebels are 4-6 in Tony Sanchez’s second season and did a good job playing spoiler with their triple-overtime triumph over Wyoming as more than a touchdown underdog last week. That win moved UNLV to 4-6 straight up and 5-5 against the number. Boise State is 9-1 straight up, but they’ve been a bankroll burner for ATS bettors. The Broncos are just 3-7 against the spread and covered for the first time since the first week of October last time out on the road at Hawaii. The Broncos will be favored by double digits for the 10th time this season in this game.
With a rebel yell, UNLV threw a wrench into the Mountain Division standings last week. It’s possible that the Rebels found their quarterback in the process. After bouncing back and forth between Johnny Stanton and Dalton Sneed, Kurt Palandech got his second straight shot to lead the Rebels and lead he did. Palandech was 20-of-32 for 252 yards and three touchdowns through the air and had 16 carries for 157 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The junior from Illinois will answer the call this week against a much tougher defense. The two-headed backfield monster of Charles Williams and Lexington Thomas has averaged well over five yards per pop on the year and has combined for 11 touchdowns. The Rebels are running for 5.7 yards per carry. Unfortunately, the win came at a major cost. Star wide receiver Devonte Boyd broke his arm and his 2016 season is finished. UNLV was pretty one-dimensional to begin with, with 443 rushes against 252 passes, but it’s going to be even more one-sided now.
Giving up 66 points in a triple-overtime game is going to skew some numbers, but UNLV wasn’t a good defense before that game was even played. The Rebels have now given up over 35 points per game and 427 yards per contest. There have been some big gains this year, especially against the run, where the Rebels have only allowed 4.3 yards per carry. Unfortunately, they’ve allowed nearly 15 yards per catch. The defense played a ton last week against Wyoming and now the Rebels have a short week to turn around and play a physical, bruising Boise State offense.
Boise State Broncos:
It’s hard to find things that Boise State fails to do well. Brett Rypien hasn’t set the world ablaze like some people thought he would this season, but he’s quietly had a fine season. Rypien has completed 65 percent of his throws with a 22/6 TD/INT ratio. All of those numbers are up a little bit from last season when he started as a true freshman. The big story for the Boise offense is Jeremy McNichols, who has rushed for 1,369 yards and 5.7 yards per carry. He has 18 touchdown carries on the year. The true junior has two more games plus a bowl game to accumulate yards this season. If he returns for his senior season, he has a great shot at becoming the program’s all-time leading rusher. He also has 31 catches for 428 yards in the passing game. Thomas Sperbeck is a 1,000-yard receiver for the second straight season. He’s now the program’s all-time leading receiver, passing recent stars like Austin Pettis and Titus Young.
The Boise defense hasn’t been as stout as we’ve seen in recent years, but they are still one of the better groups in this conference. The Broncos have given up 22 points per game and 389 yards per contest. That’s up from last season’s 20.2 points per game and 318 yards per game. They’ve regressed back to 2014 levels, which is still great for this conference, where next to nobody plays defense. The Broncos have beaten opponents by an average of 16 points per game in conference play, but they have given up 5.8 yards per play against MWC opponents.
College Football Free Pick: UNLV Rebels +28
This game is a massive mismatch on paper and UNLV deserves all 28 points that they are getting against the spread. It’s a terrible spot for UNLV with a short week coming off of one of the biggest wins in recent memory for the program. It’s not a great spot for Boise State either, who now has all the pressure as the top Group of 5 team in the CFP rankings. They also have a big game in Colorado Springs next Friday. Teams have been able to run on Boise State and they haven’t faced a whole lot of dual-threat quarterbacks, so that can neutralize some of their advantages in the trenches. UNLV may be able to keep this close or find the backdoor as long as they protect the football.
Kyle Hunter went 7-2 last Saturday in college football and is 61-26 (70%) in his last 87 totals selections. Grab ALL of his college football and NFL totals for just $300 for the rest of the season. Want college hoops? Get all NCAA BB totals for the season for $400. Contact Kyle- Email kyle@huntersportspicks.