The 8th ranked Boise State Broncos (11-1) take on the Arizona State Sun Devils (6-6) in tonight’s Maaco Bowl from Las Vegas, Nevada, in what should be an exciting, high-scoring contest between two schools that meet for the first time in 15 years.
While this match-up figures to be heavily one-sided in favor of Boise State, who missed a BCS title shot by just one missed field goal for the second consecutive year, nonetheless with two very talented quarterbacks in BSU’s Kellen Moore and ASU’s Brock Osweiler delivering shots downfield all night long, this year’s Maaco Bowl should at least give NCAA football fans something worth watching even though the outcome looks to be the most predictable of any match-up in this year’s NCAA College bowl season.
The facts simply don’t lie heading into this contest; Boise State is 11-1 for the second straight year behind quarterback Kellen Moore, the winningest quarterback in NCAA Football history, and is averaging 43.3 points per game (7th in the nation) while allowing just 18.3 points (10th) to opposing offenses. Arizona State meanwhile started strong on the season going 5-1 while beating two ranked opponents, but since then has gone 1-5, resulting in the firing of head coach Dennis Erickson (who will coach his final game tonight) after losing 4 straight games to close the regular season out, and gives up a massive 419.5 yards of total offense per contest. Facing a Broncos offense that is generating 310 yards/game through the air per contest courtesy of Moore, and getting 172.8 yards/game on the ground via running backs Doug Martin and D.J Harper, the Broncos are an elite offensive unit that has no problems scoring on any type of defense, let alone one like Arizona State. Though Boise State may get a challenge from Arizona’s 11th-ranked passing offense led by the 6’8″ Brock Osweiler (averaging 310 yards/game, to almost identically match Moore’s output), it’s the Broncos’ efficiency of veteran leadership combined with their ability to overwhelm opponents with huge scoring that has the scales tipped firmly in favor of a BSU win tonight, despite even the best efforts from Arizona State.
Keys to a Broncos second-straight Maaco Bowl win tonight lie with Kellen Moore, who looks to lead his senior class to their school record 50th win over 4 years’ time. With a 41 touchdowns on the season to only 7 interceptions, an impressive 71.4 percent completion rate and over 3500 yards passing for the third consecutive season, it’s safe to say that Moore is an experienced, veteran leader who can handle any situation in front of him. Behind one of the best offensive lines in College Football, Moore will look to carve into Arizona State’s very vulnerable secondary all night long, generating strikes early and often to key receivers like senior downfield threat Tyler Shoemaker (59 catches, 959 yards, 15 TDs) and freshman short-route specialist Matt Miller (58 catches, 647 yards, 8 TDs). There are seven players on the BSU roster with 20 or more catches on the season, and with 10 players generating at least one receiving touchdown, the options are wide open for Kellen Moore this evening. While some fear a let-down in form owing to the disappointment of another missed BCS title opportunity, in the last hurrah for the talented senior class of Boise State, one shouldn’t expect anything less than a signature send-off, even if it’s against a mediocre football team like the Sun Devils have become. They certainly won’t want to let up against an ASU defense that will want to prove they’re better than their last 4 losses suggest, and has one of the most talented pass rushing defensive fronts in NCAA Football, so allowing Kellen Moore to throw down field all night long without pressure will be job number one for the BSU offensive line.
For Arizona State to hang tough in this unbalanced match-up, they are going to have to find a way to get Brock Osweiler going early on, as Boise State’s secondary has been prone to giving up big yardage plays against offenses that hedge heavily on the passing game. While Arizona State does have a better-than-average running game behind Cameron Marshall (219 carries, 1038 yards, 18), getting Osweiler protection to throw downfield to his key receivers Gerrell Robinson (64 catches, 1156 yards, 6 TDs) and Aaron Pflugrad (40 catches, 620 yards, 5 TDs) will be very important to the Sun Devils’ bottom line. If you look across the Sun Devils receiving corps stats, you’ll notice that Osweiler likes to throw the ball deep downfield, which has resulted in a higher TD:INT ratio of 24:12, but also gives Arizona a good chance at eating up yardage for quick scoring drives. If Arizona State can find success with Marshall in the running game and open up looks downfield for Osweiler against a depleted BSU secondary, Brock Osweiler could very well keep his Sun Devils in striking distance of Boise State towards the end of the game. Despite Arizona State’s struggles, keep in mind they have played very well against top ranked opponents this year, beating then-#23 USC 43-22, #21 Missouri 37-30, and hanging tight against #9 Oregon 41-27 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, OR. Though it’s been a different situation down the home stretch for the Devils as they’ve lost 4 straight to relatively weak Pac-12 competition (UCLA, Washington State, Arizona and California in succession), there is fight in this team, and weapons available that could put them in good position to hang well with BSU tonight.
Betting lines for Boise State vs. Arizona State at Oddsmaker Sportsbook
Though you can find all the most competitive odds across the best online sportsbooks reviewed here by going to our NCAA Bowl Games Odds page for this match-up, we’re sticking with Oddsmaker Sportsbook as our featured sports betting destination of choice after having good luck at this website in the last few wagers placed there. Spotting Boise State as huge favorites at -600 odds while Arizona State gets the underdog bid on the money line at +450 odds, there’s little to be gained either way on the money line, unless you have a taste for the insanity of backing an ASU team riding 4 straight losses with a fired head coach into a match-up against one of the most successful College Football programs of the last 5 years. Rather, the best bets for this match-up may lie with the spread, as Boise State is a 14.5 point favorite, which could work well for either BSU backers or optimistic ASU supporters. The best odds would favor taking ASU to cover the spread (Even money) hoping for a big showing from Brock Osweiler to lead the way to a close game, however if you feel Boise State and Kellen Moore are likely to run all over Arizona State en route to their 50th victory for the senior class, then a safer bet might be with the -120 odds taking BSU to cover 14.5 points. With a game featuring two very passing-proficient teams, the 68 points on the over/under seems reasonable, but I only see one team getting past 30 points tonight, keeping the bottom line under 68 this evening.
Our Pick to Win:
It should be clear by now that Boise State is our pick to emerge victorious in tonight’s game, as they parlay last season’s 26-3 win against Utah in the same bowl game towards another win to cap off a stellar career for Kellen Moore. Look for Moore to find success all night long in the passing game, and for BSU to simply be too much for ASU to handle, as they find the endzone early and often and put the game out of reach by the early 3rd quarter. Though ASU should step up for their first bowl game since 2007, in the end the Broncos will cover the spread by not taking their foot off the gas pedal, and cruise to victory 38-21 to win the Maaco Bowl from Las Vegas.