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Free Pick: Boise St at UCF on 9/2/21
Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Free Pick: Boise St at UCF on 9/2/21

This should be a great game between tow of the best teams in the Group of 5 conferences. Unfortunately, the loser will be out of consideration for any chance at making the final four playoffs but their odds were at about 10% anyway. Let’s break it down position by position.

Quarterback: Both teams return their starting quarterback from a year ago but Dillon Gabriel of UCF has the better stats with 3570 passing yards in only 10 games. Boise St. will answer with Hank Bachmeier who has 13 starts under his belt and also has promising Jack Sears if he falters. Advantage: UCF

Running Backs: Boise St. is hoping George Holani can return to his 2019 form when he rushed for 1019 yards. He missed last season with a torn MCL. UCF lost their top two rushers from a year ago. Advantage: Boise State

Receivers: The Knights have Jaylon Robinson back but lost Marlon Thompson from 2020. Boise returns Khalil Shakir as well as CT Thomas and promising tight end Riley Smith. Advantage: Boise State

Offensive Line: This is a projected strength for UCF as all 5 starters are back including a couple of all-conference players. Boise doesn’t appear quite as sound but they aren’t awful either. Advantage: UCF

Defensive Front: Boise St. returns all three starters upfront but only Shane Irwin had much production. UCF may be even worse and they lost their top 2 rushers. Advantage: Neither

Linebackers: Both teams return good players at linebacker and that is a strength of their defense. The Broncos have two good ones and the Knights appear to have only one. Advantage: Boise State

Secondary: UCF has a decided advantage in the secondary as Boise is having to rebuild a bit. Advantage: UCF

Coaching: Both teams have new coaches for 2021. The Broncos hired former defensive coordinator Andy Avalos and he is very familiar with this successful program. UCF was fortunate to nab Gus Malzahn who was fired by Auburn despite having a good record. I’m not a big Malzahn fan but he should do well in Orlando. Advantage: UCF

This should be a very entertaining game and I’m looking forward to it for sure on Thursday night. UCF is currently a 5.5 favorite and that sounds about right.

The Bet: UCF (-5)

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