Las Vegas Bowl: Boise St. vs. Arizona St.
Published on Dec. 22 at 1:57 p.m. Eastern.
Updated at 3:25 p.m. Eastern.
By Brian Edwards
First of all, let’s be crystal clear that it’s an unfathomable shame that Boise State (11-1 straight up, 4-8 against the spread) is playing in a bowl game before Christmas. The Broncos, who are fourth in my Power Rankings and haven’t left the top five all year, own an incredible 72-6 record during Chris Petersen’s six-year tenure with a 7-1 mark against teams from BCS conferences.
Of those seven victories against BCS foes, only three of those games were played on the blue smurf turf at Bronco Stadium. In BSU’s only game against a BCS squad this year, it dominated Georgia from start to finish in a 35-21 win at the Ga. Dome in Atlanta.
Nevertheless, Petersen’s team has been unfairly left out of the BCS bowl picture and will instead face Arizona State (6-6 SU, 3-8-1 ATS) in the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
This ASU squad lost four in a row both SU and ATS down the stretch. The Sun Devils’ late-season collapse cost them a spot in the inaugural Pac-12 title game and resulted in a pink slip for fifth-year head coach Dennis Erickson, who has been granted the chance to coach his team in Sin City.
Most betting shops, as of early Wednesday evening, were listing Boise St. as a 14-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 66 ½. Gamblers can take ASU to win outright for a lucrative plus-450 payout (risk $100 to win $450).
BSU is mired in a 0-6 ATS slide but we should note that all of its spreads have been at least 16 during this slump. The Broncos have been favored by 30 points or more in four of those six spread setbacks.
Senior quarterback Kellen Moore will be wrapping up a sensational career in which he owns a 49-3 career record as a starter. This season Moore has connected on 73.9-percent of his passes for 3,507 yards with a 41/7 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Moore’s favorite target is senior wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker, who has 59 receptions for 959 yards and 15 touchdowns. Matt Miller has 57 catches for 644 yards and eight scores.
BSU senior RB Doug Martin has carried the load on the ground, rushing for a 1,148 yards and 15 TD while averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Martin has also made 26 receptions and has a pair of TD grabs.
Arizona St. raced out to a 6-2 start and appeared poised to run away with the Pac-12’s South Division. However, the Sun Devils dropped four straight in which they were favored by at least six points, including back-to-back games at home vs. Arizona and Cal.
The offense wasn’t to blame. Brock Osweiler has passed for 3,641 yards with a 24/12 TD-INT ratio. Gerell Robinson had a team-high 64 receptions for 1,156 yards and six TDs, while RB Cameron Marshall rushed for 1,038 yards and 18 TDs.
ASU’s offense averages 33.9 PPG but its defense has given up 47, 31, 37 and 29 points during the team’s four-game losing streak.
Since 2006, Boise St. has won three of its five bowl games while going 4-1 ATS. The Broncos’ two losses have come by four combined points. ASU is going bowling for the first time since 2007 when it got trashed by Texas, 52-34.
The ‘over’ is 10-2 overall for ASU, 7-5 overall for BSU.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
–Ellis Johnson, who was hired as the new head coach at So. Miss earlier this week, will not coach for South Carolina as defensive coordinator in its bowl game vs. Nebraska.
–Iowa RB Marcus Coker has been suspended for the team’s bowl game against Oklahoma. Coker rushed for 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Hawkeyes during the regular season.
–Boise State offensive coordinator Brent Pease is a candidate for the Houston job vacted by Kevin Sumlin, who is the new head coach at Texas A&M.
–With Sumlin joining the SEC, the league now has three African-American head coaches. James Franklin at Vandy and Joker Phillips at Kentucky are the others. Prior to those hirings, the only black head coaches in SEC history were Sylvester Croom (Mississippi St. from 2004-2008) and Charlie Strong (Florida for the 2004 Chick-Fil-A Bowl).
–Paul Chryst is the new head coach at Pitt. Chryst will continue to coach for Wisconsin as offensive coordinator in its Rose Bowl showdown vs. Oregon. The Ducks are currently favored by six over the Badgers.