The Mountain West’s Boise State Broncos and the Big 12’s Oklahoma State Cowboys are set for a showdown in Stillwater, OK at T. Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m., ESPN). The 24th-ranked Cowboys are favored by 2.5 points over the 17th-ranked Broncos at most sportsbooks, while the betting total has been set at a lofty 63.5 points. And like the oddsmakers, the respective coaching staffs are anticipating a shootout.
“I would think there are quite a few points scored in this game,” Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy told the Idaho Statesman.
“I’ve always respected Coach Gundy and what he’s done offensively,” Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin told reporters on Monday. “I know [Cowboys quarterback Taylor Cornelius is] good, I know he can make plays and I know this guy is going to be dialed in.”
Both programs have been consistent points producers for years, not just in 2018. But Boise State is coming off a school-record 818-yard performance against UConn at home last week, while Oklahoma State is leading the country in yards per game at 674.5 through 120 minutes.
Senior quarterback Brett Rypien, in his fourth year as the starting signal-caller, continues to be a reliable source of production for the Broncos offense. He’s 41 for 56 through two games, throwing for 667 yards, seven TDs, and no INTs.
Rypien’s opposing number, 6-foot-6-inch senior Taylor Cornelius, has excelled in his first year as the starter, completing 50 of his first 75 passes for 728 yards and six TDs. However, he has thrown three INTs. Sophomore corner and return specialist Avery Williams, battling a bum elbow, wore a brace in last week’s game with UConn but still managed to haul in an interception, so Cornelius must be wary of him.
In a possible could-go-either-way track meet, betting trends are more important than ever. The Cowboys have no discernable trends, positive or negative, but the Broncos are 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 games, and have covered in six of their last seven on the road. Boise State has also exceeded the total in five of their last seven overall, and 17 of their last 25 away from home, all per oddsshark.com.
The margin for error in this one is razor-thin, and it would seem that Cornelius is more likely to blink first compared to Rypien, the polished veteran in the pocket. Wait and see if the betting line floats back up to Oklahoma State -3, but don’t be afraid to back the Broncos at +2.5 in a game where points should not be at a premium.
Prediction: Boise State wins, 52-45
The play: Boise State +2.5, Over 63.5, one unit each