Boise State begins its season as a road underdog at the Bounce House against UCF. The market drove down that number from Central Florida -10 to -4, but a Knights team with 17 returning starters will be a challenge. After hosting UTEP the next Friday, the Broncos have eight days to prepare for a home game against Oklahoma State, in which they are catching four points in the South Point’s Game of the Year lines. The nonconference schedule will conclude three weeks later with a game at BYU that will likely be a coin-flip spot with a spread inside a field goal. The Broncos get no breaks in their conference schedule, either, as they face Nevada and Wyoming, but both will be making the trek to the Smurf Turf. The intriguing challenge will come when Boise State opens Mountain West play with a road game against a Utah State program with 19 returning starters, a quality transfer quarterback in Logan Bonner and a new coach in Blake Anderson. The Broncos have a quality team this season as 17 starters return, many at key positions. Hank Bachmeier and Jack Sears got time under center last year and will compete for the starting job, and the offensive line returns four starters, including two all-conference players. First-year coach Andy Avalos was the defensive coordinator for Oregon the last two seasons, and he gets a defense that has seven linemen who started a game in 2020 and every starter back at linebacker, so this unit should be better than last season, when it gave up 27.1 points per game and 5.3 yards per play. However, given the unknown nature of Avalos as a head coach and a rugged schedule, this team is unlikely to surpass nine wins. Four opponents have win totals of 7.5 or higher, and while three will play the Broncos in Boise, an implied probability of 58.2% (-139) that this team wins fewer than nine games is accurate.
Pick: Under 9