Boise State and Washington ended last season by playing an exciting Las Vegas Bowl, with the Broncos escaping with a 28-26 victory.
The Huskies covered the spread as five-point underdogs in December, but they are 3.5-point favorites in Saturday's rematch at the renovated Husky Stadium. The total score at most shops hovered around 53.
But the college football database at OddsShark.com suggests you should bet against Boise State at your peril. In 20 recent road games, the Broncos are 18-2 SU (straight up) and 15-5 ATS (against the spread).
Washington returns 18 starters for its fifth season under head coach Steve Sarkisian from a team that posted a third straight 7-6 record last year. Ten starters are back on offense, including senior QB Keith Price (career 54/24 TD/INT ratio), 1,400-yard rusher Bishop Sankey, and four along the o-line.
And eight starters return on defense, including seven of last year's top eight tacklers. So with a bounce-back effort from Price and a little advancement on defense, one might expect Washington to improve upon both the 24 PPG it averaged and the 24 PPG it allowed last season.
Boise State, on the other hand, has just nine starters back this year, tied for the second-fewest in all of FBS ball, from a team that went 11-2 last year. Five starters are back on offense, including senior QB Joe Southwick (19/7 TD/INT ratio last year) and WR Matt Miller.
But they've got to replace leading rusher D.J. Harper and three along the offensive line; and just four starters return on defense, after the loss of three of last year's top four tacklers. So while the Broncos might come close to equaling the 30 PPG they averaged last year, they seem very likely to give up more than the 16 PPG they allowed last season.
In that Las Vegas Bowl last December, Boise State took an early 18-3 lead, but Washington rallied to go ahead 26-25 with four minutes to go. The Broncos then kicked a field goal with just over a minute remaining, then picked Price off at their own 32-yard line with 14 seconds to go, icing the victory.
However, the Huskies out-gained Boise State that night 447-407 and out-rushed them 205-109.
Washington is back in its on-campus digs this year after playing its home games at CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, last year. Saturday's game from alongside Lake Washington starts at 10 pm ET and will be televised live by Fox Sports 1.
Pick: Washington -3.5; we cannot see BSU, with an overhauled roster, hanging tough on the road.