It’s the start of bowl season in college football with a stop in the Silver State. The #25 Boise State Broncos battle the Oregon Ducks in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday, December 16. Boise State defeated then-#25 Fresno State 17-14 in the Mountain West title game back on December 2. Oregon won their final two games of the regular season, including a 69-10 whipping of Oregon State in the Civil War on November 25. The Broncos won the only two previous meetings between the schools, including a 19-8 win on the blue turf at home in the last matchup on September 3, 2009.
Boise State Broncos Seek 11th Win of Season
Boise State bounced back from their regular season finale loss to Fresno State by upending the Bulldogs in the Mountain West title game. The Broncos are 10-3 on the year and look for their 11th win of the season here. Boise State trailed 14-10 after three quarters before covering 90 yards in seven plays over 3:03 to score the winning touchdown with 4:42 to play. The Broncos held a 364-309 advantage in total offense and had a slim 30:32 to 29:28 advantage in time of possession in the game. Both teams finished with 19 first downs while Boise State forced the game’s only turnover.
The Broncos stand 44th in the FBS in passing offense (254.5 yards per game) and 89th in rushing (145.9 yards per game) this season. Despite the weak offensive numbers, Boise State is 39th in scoring offense with 32.1 points per game while the team is 35th in scoring defense with 22.5 points per game allowed. Montell Cozart is 59 of 93 passing for 747 yards with 10 touchdowns against one interception: he is third on the team with 361 rushing yards plus four scores. Brett Rypien is 197 of 310 for 2,515 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions: he was hurt against Washington State and missed the New Mexico game before returning against Virginia. Alexander Mattison (209 carries, 1074 yards, 12 TD) and Ryan Wolpin (99 carries, 377 yards, 4 TD) are the top two backs in the run game. Cedrick Wilson is the team’s top receiver with 73 receptions for 1,290 yards plus six scores. A.J. Richardson (33 receptions, 494 yards, two TD) and Jake Roh (39 catches, 410 yards, nine TD) are other targets. Haden Hoggarth has hit all 52 extra points and 17 of 21 field goal attempts with a long of 41.
Oregon Ducks Start Coaching Search Over Again
Oregon won their last two games of the regular season to finish the year 7-5 but was a victim of the coaching carousel. The Ducks signed Willie Taggart away from South Florida last year to run the program but on Tuesday, he bailed to take the job at Florida State. Mario Cristobal will coach the team on an interim basis. Against Oregon State, Oregon blew open a 17-7 game by outscoring the Beavers 35-0 in the second quarter and rolled to victory. The Ducks had a 577-211 edge in total offense, 28 first downs to the Beavers’ 15 and forced three turnovers, including a pick six, while not committing a turnover.
The Ducks enter this contest 97th in the FBS in passing offense with 186.3 yards per game and 8th in rushing as they put up 268 yards per game on the ground. Oregon is 18th in the nation in scoring offense with 36.7 points per contest and are 76th in scoring defense by allowing 28.3 points a game. Justin Herbert has completed 113 of 170 passes for 1,750 yards with 13 touchdown passes against three interceptions while adding 166 yards plus five scores on the ground. He broke his collarbone against Cal and missed five games before returning against Arizona on November 18. Taylor Alie, who is next in line, has hit 19 of 27 passes for 134 yards plus an interception while adding 41 yards plus a score on the ground. Braxton Burmeister is 44 of 77 for 330 yards with two touchdowns against six interceptions while rushing for 102 yards and three scores. Royce Freeman leads the Ducks this season with 244 carries for 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns. Kani Benoit chips in 80 carries for 573 yards and 10 scores as a solid second back. Dillon Mitchell leads Oregon with 33 receptions for 374 yards plus four scores. Charles Nelson (30 grabs, team-high 392 yards, TD) and Johnny Johnson III (19 catches, 284 yards, TD) are solid secondary passing targets. Aidan Schneider has hit all 59 extra points and nine of 12 field goal attempts with a long of 42.
- Broncos are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win
- Broncos are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game
- Ducks are 0-7 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game
- Ducks are 0-7 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points
Oregon showed some signs of life with the return of Herbert for the final two games as the Ducks could finally throw the ball again, something that was lacking while he was out of the mix. The Ducks have to be concerned about their focus with Taggart leaving the program just 10 days before the bowl game. Boise State is a tough team with plenty of experience to lean on. The Broncos don’t pile up the points but they can take advantage of mismatches and wear teams down. Look for the Broncos to come up with the win here as Oregon is a bit distracted by their coaching situation.
Pick: Boise State Broncos +7.5
Oregon will be interesting to watch: will they maintain running the Blur offense with Taggart not there or will Cristobal go with a different, more tamped down scheme? The Ducks have one of the most dynamic running backs in the nation with Freeman but the passing game lagged behind. Herbert’s return helped but one has to wonder how successful the aerial assault will be against a veteran Boise State squad. Rypien played well down the stretch: does he have enough in his arm to hit Wilson and company to spring an upset here?
The under is 4-1 in the Broncos’ last 5 vs. a team with a winning record. Oregon has seen the under go 4-1 in their last 5 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game, 8-2 in their last 10 games following a straight up win, 4-1 in their last 5 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points and 4-1 in their last five against teams with a winning record. Defense carries the day here as Boise State’s bend but don’t break mentality slows the Ducks enough to keep this one under the total.