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MWC Title Odds and Preview: Fresno State at Boise State

Fresno State Bulldogs(9-3) @ Boise State Broncos(9-3)

  • Where: Albertsons Stadium. Boise, ID
  • When: December 2, 2017 7:45 pm EST
  • Spread: Fresno State (+8.5) at Boise State (-8.5)
  • Moneyline: Fresno State (+270) at Boise State (-340)
  • Over / Under: Over 51 (-110) vs Under 51 (-110)

What is this Saturday’s biggest FBS game? Is it Georgia and Auburn, battling for a likely top seed in the College Football Playoff? How about Ohio State vs Wisconsin for the Big Ten crown? Don’t forget Oklahoma vs TCU, as the Sooners try to help return the Big 12 conference to prominence.

But for its players, the biggest might be the Mountain West Championship Game, in which the teams have very little to play for except a prestigious conference title.

Boise State and Fresno State each have 3 losses. When they met in a “preliminary” regular-season bout last weekend, one of the pair had to lose – and a loss knocked BSU out of any hope to contend for a Group of 5 New Year’s bid. No matter what happens, the Broncos and Bulldogs will each get a classy bowl trip in the postseason.

That leaves only the MWC trophy, and if you’re in the mood for 4 quarters of loose, let-it-all-hang-out pigskin, you’ve come to the right place.

But Vegas odds-makers don’t expect too many fireworks for some reason. The O/U total is modest, and Boise State is expected to win by around 9 points.

Upset-Special potential of Fresno State

The odds are also influenced by the Mountain West’s decision to A) let a competing school host its conference championship, and B) use computer rankings instead of head-to-head to determine which program is hosting. That puts the MWC rubber match in Boise once again, which is burning up a lot of Bulldog fans.

Just because the contest is at Albertsons (minus deli and salad bar) doesn’t mean Fresno State doesn’t stand a good chance at an upset, however. In fact, the (+270) money line might be under-estimating the underdog.

The Bulldogs can play defense against elite teams, as evidenced by a powerhouse 27-3 defeat of SDSU in October. Fresno State impressively kept Rashaad Penny off-rhythm, and held the Aztecs to less than 100 passing yards. On offense, QB Marcus McMaryion has been sacked an incredibly-low 5 times all season, a credit to the Bulldog OL. Unlike a lot of FBS quarterbacks in 2017, McMaryion has been above 50% accuracy in every outing.

Throw Boise’s loss at Fresno last weekend out of any analysis, however – even though the Broncos started Brett Rypien and made overtures of winning. The team was in a psychological pickle having easily clinched their division, and not wanting to kill themselves. The “2nd leg” of this battle will be more important.

Rypien has been up and down throughout the ’17 season, following great performances with setbacks. He was faltering in a loss to Virginia, and later in a needlessly-uncomfortable win over BYU. As usual the Broncos are built around a versatile, shifting offense, a slap-leather ‘D and Alexander Mattison, the latest in Boise State’s assembly-line of excellent RBs who help hold it all together.

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MWC Championship Game – Winning Money Line Pick

We’re liking the Fresno State Bulldogs at near-3/1 odds. Fine pass-protection, high-ceiling defense and confidence against BSU combine to give the Bulldogs at least a 40-45% chance of making off with the trophy.

The over is also a smart bet. With no postseason-status pressure on either QB or WR corps (or on CBs sniffing for pick-6 opportunities), this could easily become a shoot-out with the winners scoring 40+ points on their own.

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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