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  • In Boise State’s lone game against a Power 5 opponent this season, the Broncos allowed 176 rushing yards and three touchdowns. That’s a bad sign heading into a First Responder Bowl meeting with Boston College.
By Zachary Cohen
December 10, 2018

First Responder Bowl – Boston College Eagles vs. Boise State Broncos (-2.5)

Wed., December 26, 1:30 pm ET

Three things to know before betting on Boston College-Boise State:

1. Boston College didn’t end its season on a high note, dropping three in a row both straight up and against the spread, including games against Florida State and Syracuse in which the Eagles were favored. In the First Responder Bowl, the Eagles face a Boise State team that is 3-1 both straight up and against the spread in bowl games under head coach Bryan Harsin. Boston College, by contrast, is just 1-3 straight up and against the spread in bowl games under head coach Steve Addazio. But the on-field numbers and matchups are just too hard to ignore here. Over the last three seasons, Boston College is an impressive 11-2 against the spread when facing teams that allow a completion percentage of 58.0% or less. The Eagles are also 9-1 against the spread when coming off a home game since the start of last season. Both of these teams faced Virginia last season, and Boston College absolutely blew them out in a 41-10 win as seven-point road underdogs. Meanwhile, Boise State lost 42-23 as 14-point home favorites.

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2. Boise State’s rushing defense has been good this season. The Broncos have given up only 122.9 yards per game on the ground—the 23rd-best mark in all of college football. The Broncos did, however, allow 16 touchdowns on the ground. Boise State particularly struggled against the run in its only meeting with a Power 5 team this season. In the Broncos’ 44-21 loss to Oklahoma State, Boise State allowed 176 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Boston College's rushing attack will be even better than Oklahoma State's. Eagles sophomore AJ Dillon is one of the nation’s best running backs. Dillon missed two games this year with an injury, but he still rushed for 1,108 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Boise State defenders he'll face in this game pale in comparison to the bigger, faster ones he faces on a weekly basis.

3. While Boston College’s defense definitely struggled this season, the Eagles will continue to be a defensive-minded football team for as long as Addazio is around. The team might have allowed 25.7 points per game this season—54th in FBS—but those numbers were skewed by the 111 points it gave up against Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Temple. Outside of those three games, Boston College stuck to its brand of physical, smashmouth defense. With extra time to prepare for Boise State, the Eagles should get back to that here. Boston College's pass defense wasn't great, but the team did have 18 interceptions—tied for best in FBS. It’ll make Boise State's Brett Rypien pay for any poor throws here. And Boston College only allowed 3.6 yards per carry this season, so it is well equipped to keep Boise State star Alexander Mattison in check.

Pick: Boston College +2.5

Confidence level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)

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