Boise State Broncos at UCF Knights Betting Preview:
Gus Malzahn is the new head coach at UCF after coaching the Auburn Tigers for six seasons. His replacement at Auburn is former Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin, whose void left the door open for first-year Broncos head coach Andy Avalos.
The two coaches’ fates were intertwined this offseason, and now they get to kick off the 2021 season against each other in a matchup between two of the top mid-major programs in recent College Football history.
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The Broncos became nationally known in the early 2000s after Chris Peterson’s team knocked off Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl with the help of a few unforgettable trick plays. The Broncos have reached double-digit wins in 16 seasons since the year 2000 under four different head coaches. Bovada oddsmakers see the Broncos continuing their success as the sportsbook has the Broncos win total set at 9 for the season.
Boise State finished as the Mountain West Conference runner-up losing to San Jose State in the conference title game a season ago. The Broncos could have an uphill battle on the defensive side of the ball as they rank in the bottom five nationally in returning production.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Broncos started quarterbacks Hank Bachmeier and USC transfer Jack Sears at different times. Bachmeier looks to have won the job, at least for the opening week, but Boise has two options with experience to lean on.
The Knights experienced the ultimate roller coaster over a five-year span starting in 2013. UCF hit a peak at 12-1 under George O’Leary, capping off the season with a Fiesta Bowl win over Baylor.
Two seasons later, the Knights hit rock bottom, going 0-12 before hiring Scott Frost. Frost brought the program back to the peak in 2017 with a 13-0 season, and so far, UCF has maintained the success. The Knights are projected to continue their success as Bovada has the betting line for total wins set at 9.5 this year.
Gus Malzahn’s offense gave SEC teams issues during his tenure at Auburn and should translate well at UCF. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel gives Malzahn a great dual-threat option to work with, and the team brought in multiple transfers from power five teams to help bolster the roster. Three of the transfers are former Auburn Tigers that played for Malzahn, most notably defensive end Big Kat Bryant.
UCF -5. BetUS and Bovada both have the Knights favored at home by 5 points. BetOnline has the line set a touch higher at 5.5 points. The Broncos replace a large portion of their defense from a season ago, and Gus Malzahn’s offense should be a problem for most teams UCF faces this season.
Dillon Gabriel’s first two seasons as a starter produced 61 passing touchdowns to only 11 interceptions while also adding six touchdowns on the ground. Gabriel’s production in Malzhan’s system should push him to be in contention as the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year along with Cincinnati’s Desmond Ritter. This game could turn into a multiple touchdown victory for the Knights.
The oddsmakers look at this game as a shootout, with the betting line being set at 68 for the total points. Both teams have some question marks on the defensive side as Boise State replaces most of the production from 2020, and UCF has brought in a number of talented transfers that may take time to gel in a new program. The under feels like the better play here if betting on the points total.