College Football

UCF vs Boise State 9/2/21 College Football Picks, Odds, Predictions

Boise State Broncos (0-0) vs. UCF Knights (0-0)
September 2, 2021 7:00 pm EDT
The Line: UCF Knights -4 / Boise State Broncos +4; Over/Under: 71.5
(Click here for latest betting odds)

The UCF Knights take on the Boise State Broncos in week 1 2021 college football action from the Bounce House on Thursday.

The Boise State Broncos come into the 2021 season looking to build on yet another successful campaign, finishing 5-2 in Andy Avalos’ first year in charge of the Broncos. The Broncos are hoping that they can finally have some consistent health at the quarterback position as top QB Hank Bachmeier and #2 QB Jack Sears both missed time with injuries last season, leading to an offense that struggled with consistency overall. The Broncos averaged almost 33.9 PPG to lead the Mountain West, but scored just 17 against BYU and Wyoming and 20 against San Jose State in the Mountain West championship game. The ground game should improve with the return of 2019 leading rusher George Holani, who missed last season with a knee injury but broke the 1,000-yard barrier in 2019. Whoever is at QB, they’ll have a litany of targets at their disposal, with leading receiver Khalil Shakir back after recording 52 grabs and 6 touchdowns last season while CT Thomas is also back on the other side and top tight end Riley Smith is back as well. On defense, the Broncos need to improve after allowing 30 or more points in four of their seven games, including 34 in the Mountain West championship game against San Jose State. The good news is that nine starters are expected back and Avalos knows what he’s doing as a former defensive coordinator at Oregon. Ezekiel Noa and Riley Whimpey are the pillars in the middle of the Bronco defense, combining for over 100 tackles last season with Whimpey leading the Broncos in tackles and tackles for a loss with both Noa and Whimpey receiving all-Mountain West accolades last season. Shane Irwin returns as BSU’s top pass rusher after recording six sacks last season As a team, Boise State averaged 33.9 PPG and allowed 27.1 PPG last season.

The UCF Knights will look to will look to take a step back in the right direction in year one of the Gus Malzahn era as the former Auburn boss will take over a UCF team that went 6-4 overall last season including 5-3 in AAC play. Last year’s Knight offense pushed out 568 yards per game and 42.2 PPG, both top-10 ranks in the country last season. Dillon Gabriel is back after throwing for 3,570 yards, 32 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. The Knights lost their top two running backs in Greg McCrae and Otis Anderson but Bentavious Thompson is expected to inherit the starting role for the time being, but will have competition from Virginia transfer RJ Harvey and Auburn transfer Mark Anthony Richards, who is familiar with Malzahn. Jaylon Robinson and Ryan O’Keefe are back in the fold for UCF’s receiving group, but the corps is complimented with the addition of Nate Craig-Myers who is now at his 3rd school but is reunited with his former coach in Malzahn as well. Defensively, the Knights need to improve after allowing almost 500 yards and 33.2 PPG but the pieces are there as nine starters are expected to return. Former Auburn Tiger Big Kat Bryant and Western Kentucky transfer Ricky Barber are expected to bolster the defensive front mostly in tact from last season. The linebackers and secondary also have some meat, as Eriq Gilyard, Tatum Bethune and Derek Gainous are all back to solidify the linebacking corps and secondary. As a team, UCF averaged 42.2 PPG while allowing 33.2 PPG last season.

Boise State is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 week 1 matchups while the under is 4-1 in their last 5 Thursday games. UCF is 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Thursday games while the over is 5-0 in their last 5 September matchups.

This has potential to be not only game of the day on Thursday, but game of the week in week 1 as this could end up being a potential eliminator for the Group of Five conferences looking to cash the New Year’s six. With that said, I like the direction that Boise State is headed, but the Broncos are a far stronger team to back at home. The Bounce House is going to be rocking for this one to kick off the season and you have to imagine that Gus Malzahn will have the Knights ready and raring to go here. Give me the Knights and lay the points in what should be a barnburner.

Chris Ruffolo's Free Pick:
UCF -4
Free Bet Match Up To $1,001; Use code DAWGZRF

Chris Ruffolo

Chris joined the Sports Chat Place team in August 2016 and since then he's worked tirelessly to pick out winners across a wide range of sports from NBA,NHL,MLB and NFL and even into the college ranks of football and basketball as well. Chris has carried over his drive and determination from playing sports at a young age to crushing the competition on a daily basis here at Sports Chat Place!

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