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Las Vegas Bowl Money Line & Preview: Oregon vs Boise State

Boise State Broncos (10-3) @ Oregon Ducks(7-5)

  • Where: Sam Boyd Stadium. Las Vegas, NV
  • When: December 16, 2017 3:30 pm EST
  • Spread: Boise State (+7.5) at Oregon (-7.5)
  • Moneyline: Boise State (+230) at Oregon (-270)
  • Over / Under: Over 59 (-110) vs Under 59 (-110)

There are very few lock-down, high-confidence upset picks out there. After all, 4/1 odds can’t pay off too often. But since the rewards for winning upset-picks are so handsome on the money line, it’s good to make sure you can at least win enough of your long-shot calls to stay afloat and keep looking for the jackpot.

To do that, one must avoid bad upset picks. The kind where everyone rolls their eyes halfway through the 2nd quarter as the favorites start to blow them out. “Of course,” we think in hindsight.

But what makes a bad hunch, a bad upset-special? It would help to flesh it out before Saturday. Sin City is hosting its annual bowl game, and the underdogs look like the sexiest gamble out there. Boise State is 10-3, ranked #25 and has a P5-quality QB and coaching staff, but Vegas odds-makers have made Oregon a substantial favorite.

Boise State vs Oregon: Hype-hype-hooray

It’s important to avoid jumping on the hype-train, but the underdogs are not media darlings. Boise State isn’t as glorified by the press as it used to be – in fact, the ’17 Broncos have gotten little attention for a 10-3 conference champion. Tenacious QB Brett Rypien has led a Boise State team that posted 40+ points in 4 straight games in late fall, then bested Fresno State in a weird home-and-home series to settle the Mountain West.

Oregon, meanwhile, isn’t getting the results that its brand is known for. The Ducks were extremely inconsistent in 2017 and have lost 4 of their last 7 games. With an extremely efficient QB in Justin Herbert and talented Royce Freeman to carry the ball, they’ve managed some nice wins over schools like Utah and Arizona. But the defense has been helpless against well-balanced attacks, and former head coach Willie Taggart skipped town for Tallahassee before bowl season could begin.

Las Vegas Bowl: Odds and Schedule Comparison

Click to wager on Boise State (+230) to win the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl and get a 50% sign-up bonus from Bovada Sportsbook.

Winning is persuasive, and the other pitfall of picking a ripe upset is strength-of-schedule.

Coaches get prickly on the subject, and everyone likes betting on a winner – even if their hands are full of cupcake and cream puff. Yet it remains that many a 10-3 mid-major record is not more impressive than an opponent’s 7-5 or 8-4 record out of the Power-5. Boise State has looked better than Oregon at several points this season, but is it just a mirage due to an easier slate?

Not if you count the common opponent. Boise State went head-to-head with Washington State in September and put on a clinic at the LOS, stuffing the Cougar ground game completely and not allowing a TD pass to Luke Falk in 34 attempts. Yes, the Broncos eventually lost 47-44 in 3 overtimes. But they battered WSU.

Compare that with the Ducks’ own loss to Washington State, a dismal 23-point defeat. QB Braxton Burmeister, who threw 2 picks in that contest, won’t be leading the team on Saturday. But Oregon also rushed for less than 3 ypc and saw its DBs bedazzled by a competent passing game once again.

Oregon vs Boise State: Coaching trends

Former OL coach and assistant OC Mario Cristobal has been installed as Oregon’s new HC going into the bowl game. That has ramped-up attention on the Ducks even more, but it doesn’t necessarily make them better.

If Cristobal follows the historical trend of former offensive line coaches trying to instill discipline and perfection on offense, the slightly-slower tempo could open the door for Boise State to give RB Alex Mattison more touches and make it a close game in the 4th quarter.

At that point, the 10-3 team will possess more confidence in crunch time.

Las Vegas Bowl Upset Pick: Boise State over Oregon

The Broncos’ pass rush and versatile offense make them a much-stronger opponent than the money line odds are giving them credit for. Consistency and a subdued media buzz is just what a mid-major powerhouse needs while preparing to face a Pac-12 team in transition.

Place your bet on Boise State to surprise in Vegas this weekend.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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