#5 Boise St. (-9.5) 28 TULSA 20
Boise State is known for their high scoring offense, but the Broncos are a great team because they have a very good defense. That unit started the season by shutting down a good Oregon attack and the Broncos have allowed just 4.5 yards per play in 5 games to a schedule of teams that would combine to average 5.2 yppl against an average team. That unit should control an overrated Tulsa offense that has scored a lot of points on bad defensive teams but was shutout by Oklahoma - the only good defensive team that they've faced. Boise isn't as good as Oklahoma defensively, but Tulsa actually rates as a worse than average offense after adjusting for opposing defenses faced.
The Hurricanes have averaged only 5.4 yppl in 4 games against Division 1A teams that would combine to allow 5.8 yppl to an average team. Boise State has allowed 4.4 yppl or less in 4 of their 5 games (only a potent Fresno State team had more) and my math model projects just 4.3 yppl for Tulsa in this game.
Tulsa, while not as good as perceived offensively, is better than most people think defensively. the Hurricanes have allowed just 4.6 yppl in their 4 D-1A games to teams that would average 4.9 yppl against an average defense. That unit will defend Boise's rushing attack well, as the Broncos rate as just average running the ball without D.J. Harper in the lineup (he's missed the last two games and is out for the season). Jeremy Avery is still a good back, but new #2 back Doug Martin is a big step down from Harper.
While Boise's rushing attack may stall against a good Tulsa run defense (3.6 yprp allowed to teams that would average 4.6 yprp against an average team) the Broncos' Kellen Moore (8.7 yards per pass play against teams that would allow 5.9 yppp to an average QB) should have his usual strong outing against a mediocre Tulsa pass defense that's allowed just 5.4 yppp but to quarterbacks that would combine to average just 5.2 yppp against an average defense.
Boise has pretty big edges regardless of which team has the ball and my math model gives the Broncos a very good 57% chance of covering the spread in this game. However, Tulsa applies to a very strong 49-10-2 ATS home underdog momentum situation that is 9-0 ATS since I discovered it.
Boise, meanwhile, applies to a negative 34-86-4 ATS road letdown situation and Tulsa has a 59% chance of covering a fair line based on the situations. Overall, Tulsa is about a 52% play and the under looks like a pretty good play.
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