Our college football assignments at BetFirm are decided by a scientific method called “1st come 1st serve” in which all of the match-ups are laid out on a big table (so to speak) and hungry handicappers on-staff grab what looks most-appealing to us.
There are still a few high-profile games left un-predicted for Week 11, including a Pac-12 battle between a tackle-football team known as California and an Arena-football team known as Washington State. But as tasty as a clash of styles can be, I’ve got a personal agenda to take care of before I get to it.
I’ve got to check-in on the Boise Blue.
In some respects this is a typical year for Boise State. The Broncos are 7-1 and standing atop the MWC’s Mountain division. Late summer brought another classic BSU-over-Power-5 victory as the team mounted a successful comeback to whip Florida State on its home turf in Tallahassee.
But the past 2 kickoffs have been unexpected trouble. BYU upset Boise State 28-25 in October despite another furious comeback attempt in the 4th quarter, and the Broncos followed-up with a shaky performance and a 52-42 win over San Jose State.
Wyoming is also having a fine season, but episodes continue to plague the program even at 6-2. The Cowboys upset Missouri to begin the season but played 3 tight games against easily-beatable foes after that, losing to Tulsa in the 4th contest of the year. 2 weekends ago Wyoming whipped Nevada 31-3…but suffered a key injury that could have a lot to do with the point spread for a trip to Albertson’s Stadium this weekend.
Who: Wyoming Cowboys at Boise State Broncos
When: Saturday, November 9th, 10:15 PM EST
Where: Albertson’s Stadium, Boise, ID
Lines: WYO (+13) at BSU (-13) / O/U Total: (48)
Wyoming possesses a burly DL and a quality run defense which held New Mexico (quietly among the better running teams in the Mountain West) to around 150 yards on the ground in a 23-10 October victory. That’s good news for the Cowboys, especially now that the program’s offense has suffered a tremendous blow.
QB Sean Chambers has been knocked-out for the season with a knee injury, leaving former starter (and now the current starter, I suppose) Tyler Vander Waal to take over the reigns:
The knee injury that Chambers suffered against Nevada on Oct. 26th must have been worse than initially reported after the game. Chambers even returned to action after the leg injury he suffered in the second quarter in Wyoming’s most complete win of the season. Wyoming coach Craig Bohl confirmed this at Monday’s press conference. Chambers is indeed out after doctors discovered more damage to his knee that will need to be repaired. Cowboy faithful will have to face the reality going into Boise State week as 12-point underdogs, they will be minus their leader under center.
Sophomore Tyler Vander Waal has been chomping at the bit after losing the job to Chambers in the spring and suffering through a 2-6 start to start the 2018 season. Chambers took the reigns and after turning the tide in a losing effort to Utah State and led the Cowboys to two straight wins before breaking his fibula at the start of the Air Force game. Enter Vander Waal for the second time and the renewed confidence to lead the Cowboys the last two games of the season to be bowl eligible. He was most impressive against that Air Force squad in Laramie. Vander Waal led the Cowboys with a four-touchdown performance (two in the air and two on the ground) to a comeback win. He had 225 yard passing that snowy day and led the team with a swagger that wasn’t there in the previous eight appearances.
It’s strange that the Las Vegas lines haven’t really moved at all since the news of Chambers’ prolonged absence broke on Monday afternoon. It’s not like press conferences are held at 6 AM Nevada time, but the Over/Under for Saturday at Albertson’s has actually ticked-up a point since Bohl’s announcement.
Perhaps gamblers are convinced that a less-dynamic QB behind center for Wyoming means that the Boise Blue will have an easier time of things overall and that Hank Bachmeier will find ways to punish the Cowboy defense given enough chances and ball-control.
Logical enough, but it’s not like Bachmeier is red-hot after throwing for 0 TDs and a pick vs San Jose State. Nor did the Bronco defense shine in giving up 500-ish combined yards and 42 points to the upstart Spartans. Only a monster outing for tailback George Holani saved the day.
I’m liking the Under (48) here, and not just because of Wyoming’s QB injury. Vander Waal is a limited and inconsistent player – that’s why the Cowboys replaced him. Boise State’s shaky defense vs SJSU was probably an outlier – the program has staked a reputation on rushing the passer for over a decade.
Not that whatever happened 10 years ago counts now, but Wyoming is hurting on the OL and should be worn-down in what could turn into a slow-paced 2nd half and a 28-7 or 24-14 type of victory for the hosts.