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BYU COUGARS (2-1) at BOISE STATE BRONCOS (1-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Boise State -6.5 & 49
Opening Line & Total: Broncos -7 & 48
Two non-BCS powers clash Thursday night on the blue turf when BYU visits No. 24 Boise State, in search of a 19th straight home victory in September.
BYU is coming off a 24-21 loss to rival Utah in a game it allowed just 245 total yards. The Cougars defense ranks in the nation's top 10 in total yards (241 YPG), rushing yards (53 YPG), sacks (4.3 per game) and Tackles For Loss (9.0 per game). Boise State had just 206 total yards in a loss to Michigan State, but rolled up 599 yards in last week's 39-12 pounding of Miami Ohio.
The Broncos have been an outstanding bet versus non-conference foes over the past five seasons, going 16-7 ATS (70%). They have also been able to pick apart great passing defenses, as Chris Petersen is 7-0 ATS versus good passing defenses - allowing 5.75 or less passing yards per attempt as the coach of Boise State. And don't expect this team to let down after a big win last week, as the Broncos are 16-5 ATS (76%) in home games after outrushing an opponent by 125+ yards in the previous game since 1992.
The Cougars are reeling after nearly pulling off a stunning comeback in Utah last week. Trailing 24-7 entering the fourth quarter, BYU scored two touchdowns and had a chance to send the game into overtime with a 51-yard field goal. That kick was blocked, but after a premature celebration penalty on the Utes, the Cougars had another chance from 36 yards out, but that kick hit the upright, giving Utah the 24-21 victory. QB Riley Nelson did a nice job in the fourth quarter, but finished the wild game just 17-of-35 for 206 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT. Junior WR Cody Hoffman posted his second straight 100-yard receiving game with 120 yards and a touchdown on eight catches. BYU rushed for a mere 106 yards on 42 carries (2.5 YPC) against Utah and was fortunate that only one of five fumbles resulted in a turnover. The Cougars also committed 12 penalties costing them 75 yards. BYU's defense played very well though, holding Utah to 245 total yards, including 49 rushing yards on 35 carries (1.4 YPC). LBs Kyle Van Noy and Spencer Hadley, who have combined for eight sacks this year, will try to disrupt Boise's passing attack.
Boise State really cranked up its ground game last week against Miami Ohio, churning out 295 yards on 45 carries (6.6 YPC). D.J. Harper rushed for 162 of those yards and scored four total touchdowns, both career highs. That was quite an improvement from his paltry eight yards on 15 carries in the 17-13 season-opening loss to Michigan State. Broncos QB Joe Southwick also played great against the RedHawks, completing 24-of-31 passes (77%) for 304 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT. A lot of the credit for the success of these two players goes to a Boise offensive line that has not allowed a single sack in two games. Defensively, the Broncos are already ahead of where they projected to be, allowing just 14.5 PPG (tops in Mountain West) and 351.5 total YPG (2nd in MWC).