The Boise State Broncos will be playing in the Fiesta Bowl for the third time and hope to repeat wins in their previous two appearances when they square off against the Arizona Wildcats. The Broncos stunned the Oklahoma Sooners 43-42 in overtime as seven-point underdogs in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and beat the TCU Horned Frogs 17-10 as seven-point dogs there again three years later.
Fiesta Bowl point spread: Wildcats opened as four-point favorites; the total was 69 (line updates and matchup report).
Odds Shark computer prediction: 42.1-36.6 Broncos
Why the Broncos can cover the spread
Boise State has proved it can compete against bigger schools in bigger bowl games and will get another great opportunity to do just that here. The Broncos are riding an eight-game winning streak into the Fiesta Bowl and have seen seven of those games go over the total.
The exception was a 28-14 victory against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Mountain West Championship Game, which Boise failed to cover as a 22.5-point favorite.
Even though the Broncos have covered just four of their last eight games, they were double-digit chalk in six of them and beat the number in the two they were not.
Why the Wildcats can cover the spread
The Wildcats captured the Pac-12 South Division and won four straight games before they were overwhelmed 51-13 by the Oregon Ducks in the conference championship game. However, they did win 31-24 at Oregon earlier in the season, handing the Ducks their only loss this year as 21.5-point underdogs.
Arizona is a young team led offensively by a pair of freshmen in quarterback Anu Solomon (3,458 passing yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions) and running back Nick Wilson (1,289 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns).
That duo, along with sophomore wide receiver Cayleb Jones (902 receiving yards and nine touchdowns), will be difficult for Boise to stop.
The Broncos have played well in these situations in the past, but they no longer have former head coach Chris Petersen roaming the sidelines. Petersen was the guy who really put them on the map from a national perspective, and he remains one of the most respected coaches in the country now that he's with the Washington Huskies.
While new head coach Bryan Harsin has done a good job in his first year, there’s obviously a difference between good and great. For the Wildcats, head coach Rich Rodriguez did a great job this season—to the point that his name has often been mentioned in rumors now that there are openings at other schools, including the highly coveted Florida job, according to Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com.
In a game like this with a point spread sitting around a field goal, the best bet is to side with the team that has the better coach who has more experience, and that would be Arizona with Rodriguez.
- Boise State is 5-0 straight up in its last five games.
- Arizona is 4-1 SU in its last five games.