(10-2, 7-4-1 ATS)
Boise State Broncos
(11-1, 8-4 ATS)
Remember when both the Utah Utes and Boise State Broncos were in the Top 5 in the country and were threatening to play for the BCS National Championship? Two losses for Utah and one by Boise State later, and these two have had their BCS dreams shattered. Fortunately for us, the college football betting fans, these two are able to play each other this year in the Las Vegas Bowl in what should be one of the better bowl tussles of the season.
Utah fell apart at the seams after getting destroyed by the TCU Horned Frogs on its home turf after starting off at 8-0. Now, QB Jordan Wynn, the youngster that really came alive in the Poinsettia Bowl against the Cal Golden Bears last year, is battling a shoulder injury that is going to cost him a chance to play in a bowl game for a second straight year. Instead, it will be up to QB Terrance Cain, the man that was originally the starter for this team two years ago, to wrap up his career in style. Cain posted some great numbers in relief of Wynn earlier this season, but in his final appearance of the season, he was picked off twice and just didn’t look like himself. Averaging 35.6 points per game versus 19.8 points per game against was impressive this year for the Utes, but we have to keep in mind that this was Mountain West competition, nothing like what they will run up against in this one. The only major teams outside of the MWC that were played this year were the Pitt Panthers, Iowa State Cyclones, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish. None are playing in illustrious bowl games this year, and the best of the bunch, the Golden Domers, absolutely crippled Utah 28-3 in South Bend.
We tend to believe that the Broncos deserved a nod in the BCS even though they had that one blunder on the year. It’s hard to imagine that this would be a Rose Bowl team right now if K Kyle Brotzman had nailed that field goal at the end of regulation against the Nevada Wolf Pack. Either way you slice it, this team was just downright awesome this year, and unlike Utah, which really didn’t prove much of anything, losing to the best team in its conference and not playing much else outside of it, Boise State took out the Virginia Tech Hokies and Oregon State Beavers, not to mention the Hawaii Warriors and Fresno State Bulldogs in the WAC. This team is probably a heck of a lot better than we think, as you don’t drop 521.4 yards per game, almost double what you allow, on opponents by accident. QB Kellen Moore was rightfully a Heisman Trophy finalist this year, and he can probably make himself the favorite to claim the award next year with a strong showing here in Sin City to finish up his junior campaign.
The bottom line here is that Boise State is just a tremendously better team right now than the Utes are. The only question is whether the Broncos really have the motivation to be here in Las Vegas or not. If they do, they’ll win by 30. If they don’t, anything could happen. However, if a 50-14 beat down of the Utah State Aggies in the regular season finale suggests anything, Utah is in a boatload of trouble.
MAACO Las Vegas Bowl Free Pick: Boise State Broncos -17