Boise State Broncos vs. UCF Knights – College Football (September 2nd, 2021)
Two of the top Group of Five programs for the last few decades will square off in a tremendous season-opening matchup. The battle at quarterback might be the premier one to watch on the first weekend.
Dillion Gabriel and Hank Bachmeier have lots of potential at their disposal, and the expectations are for both to win double-digit games.
Both teams enter the season with new coaches, and that will make for an intriguing debut. Gus Malzahn had success in spurts with Auburn and will look to have another, high-octane offensive squad.
Boise State brings in former linebacker Andy Avalos, who spent time with Oregon as their defensive coordinator. The Broncos are one of the better Mountain West teams entering the season, but they could become an immediate Top 25 squad if they pull this upset off.
This should be a fun one, but who will win? Read on for my Boise State vs. Central Florida betting preview, complete with odds, pick, and a prediction.
Boise State vs. UCF Odds
The odds listed above can be found at BetOnline.
Dillion Gabriel in a Gus Malzahn-led offense could shine even brighter than he did with Josh Heupel. Malzahn is a fast skill player, and going against the Bronco defense could be one of the more challenging meetings for UCF.
Ironically, both of these teams are underrated coming into the year as unranked squads. UCF enters a season unranked for the first time since 2017, and Boise State is unranked for the third year in a row.
It is time to take a closer look at this outstanding matchup at The Bounce House by breaking it all down.
Why Central Florida Wins
Dillion Gabriel could win this contest with his arm alone. He may not be the most mobile college passer, but he has lit up a respectable American Athletic Conference for years now.
Look at these numbers from last season and how dominant he was across the nation.
- Total Offense: 373.9 yards per game (Second in FBS)
- 32 Pass TD (Fourth in FBS)
- 357.0 Passing Yards Per Game
If Gabriel can continue to torch opposing defensive backs, the UCF skill players will reap the benefits. Jaylon Robinson and Brandon Johnson will expose most corners, and they will be nightmare matchups for the Broncos’ defense.
There is even speed at the running back position that will inflict some damage at the line of scrimmage. There is experience everywhere on the field, and Boise State does not have a fierce pass-rush that its best teams have often had. Gabriel will be able to plant his feet on most throws and will carve up Boise State for well over 300 yards in this one.
UCF brings back a boatload of their top defensive players, so this point spread is interesting. UCF has also dominated at home, going 23-2 the past four seasons. They could be among the national leaders in scoring, and this is not a battle that should scare the Knights.
They may not blow out the Broncos, but they certainly will have the advantage.
Why Boise State Wins
The Broncos are known for defending their blue turf, but they have been tremendous road warriors over the years. Boise State is 26-4 over the last five seasons on the road. This program will be up for the challenge.
Riley Whimpey was their leading tackler last season, and his return should be crucial for the team’s success. The athletes on defense could catch the Knights off guard.
Bachmeier has a dynamic group out wide. CT Thomas and Khalil Shakur will be solid receivers that have plenty of quickness in their skillset.
Points will be flowing in this matchup, and the offense will have their way against most of their opponents this season. Even against mighty UCF, Boise State has the goods to hang well over 30 points.
Boise State vs. UCF Prediction
The first-ever meeting between these schools has a bowl berth type of feeling. Both coaches are brand new, but there will be fireworks on display.
The offenses may move the ball well, but UCF has more athletes on the field. The overall explosiveness of Gus Malzahn could make for an impressive season.
This team has a chance to win every game on its schedule and get back to a Top 10 team like they were when they beat Malzahn and Auburn in the 2018 Peach Bowl. This game should be close throughout, but Boise State will find life difficult at limiting the chunk plays.
UCF vs. Boise State Pick
This one will be an exciting contest on the opening weekend because there aren’t many other games on Thursday night. The Broncos have never played a team currently in the American Athletic Conference before. They are 8-1 against current squads, but they were all in different conferences at the time.
Boise State has four consecutive seasons above 500 against the spread. UCF has gone 9-14 ATS over the last two seasons, but Gus Malzahn has had tricks up his sleeve in primetime spotlights.
I would take UCF at this number if they were on the road, but this will come down to Gabriel being unstoppable. The over is a strong play at 68.5. Taking UCF for the money line (-225) feels safe, and the spread (-5.5) is the pick. Lay these points and enjoy the show these two put on for us.