Hurley: Hawaii Hopes to Burst Boise Bubble

HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

BOISE STATE BEHIND THE 8-BALL
AS HAWAII COMES TO TOWN

by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

The two biggest games in college football this weekend oddly come outside the big six BCS conferences. TCU visits Utah in a battle of unbeatens that could easily launch the winner to a national championship final if Auburn and Oregon fail to run the table (we'll preview TCU/Utah for you tomorrow in this space). Boise State hosts Hawaii, hoping to impress voters and computers enough to make a run at Auburn or Oregon even if neither loses.

That's going to be tough.

Boise State is really behind the eight-ball this year because their strength of schedule is SO MISERABLE that they have to win every game by 50 just to outclass major conference powers. If Auburn and Oregon keep winning, they're going to be undefeated with a tougher schedule than Boise had to face. Ball game. But, should one of those teams stub their toe between now and January, it's the mid-major winners Saturday that will be well-positioned to step into a championship game appearance. Boise hopes to win, and win big.

Las Vegas has made them 21-point favorites over Hawaii. That's the nature of the Boise schedule this year. When they're only 21-point favorites...that's when they have to sweat! Oregon has to sweat as a TD favorite at USC. Auburn will have to face last year's champion Alabama in the midst of a brutal conference schedule. Boise State is laying 'only' 21, and it becomes a game they have to worry about.

Well, this could actually be a trouble spot. Hawaii is fully capable of making this a game, and even winning outright. Most pundits think Nevada has a chance to do that against Boise in the WAC this year.
Hawaii beat Nevada not too long ago. Let's run those numbers.

HAWAII 27, NEVADA 21
Total Yardage: Nevada 293, Hawaii 346
Rushing Yardage: Nevada 134, Hawaii 59
Passing Stats: Nevada 14-26-2-159, Hawaii 26-36-0-287
Turnovers: Nevada 4, Hawaii 1
Third Downs: Nevada 38%, Hawaii 39%
Vegas Line: Nevada by 6, total of 75

This game stayed off the radar in the national media because it was played so late at night. Clearly, Hawaii was off the radar for oddsmakers given the spread in this game. Vegas had the wrong team favored, and missed the total by a whopping 27 points (almost four touchdowns). And, it's not like this game should have been higher scoring based on the yardage. Both teams had better defenses than they were being given credit for. Both teams are trending toward more 'big time' football styles rather than gimmicky stuff that has no chance to win big games vs. real teams. Sure, they still play more wide open than most. But...the yardage shows that it's more of a conservative game plan all the way around.

So...if you assume Nevada is a threat to Boise State...then Hawaii has to be as well. Speaking well for Hawaii's chances on Saturday:

*The defense shut down Nevada, holding a dangerous quarterback in check...allowing less than 300 total yards, and forcing four turnovers. Now, they probably won't do THAT in Boise obviously. But, they can certainly slow down the Broncos if they're in that neighborhood.

*The offense only lost the ball once in a high pressure important game. A road game in Boise is MUCH different than a home game on the islands of course. Hawaii will have to maintain that composure and maturing in much more hostile territory. It's a good sign that they passed the home test. That at least gives them a chance to pass a road test.

*Boise State maybe worrying too much about the computers, and not enough about their opponent. You saw signs of that through much of the Louisiana Tech game not too long ago. Boise didn't win by enough to cover, and had stretches of sluggishness that had you questioning whether they were really national championship material. Hawaii beat Louisiana Tech 41-21, which isn't far off Boise's 49-20 victory.

*It's a day game rather than a night game, which will help neutralize weather conditions that are likely to favor Boise. If you have to play in Idaho in November, you want it to be in a day game rather than a night game!

Let's be clear. We're not calling for an upset on these pages today...or even a Hawaii cover. JIM HURLEY makes the final decisions on customer plays after talking with his scouts, his sources, his stat handicappers, his computer programmers, his trend historians, and his Wise Guy connections. We just wanted to let you know that it IS POSSIBLE for this to become a very dramatic Saturday afternoon game...and for Hawaii to score a monster upset if everything breaks right for them.

If everything doesn't break right?

Then you have your standard Boise State home game where the Broncos post a big number, and do what they can to impress on the scoreboard because they HAVE to play that way if they want a shot at history.

The Vegas line of Boise by 21 basically splits the difference between those two extremes. Hawaii can make this a thriller. Boise could have the 21 covered by halftime, as they've done so often in the past at home in big games.

Things to keep in mind about Boise:

*They've upgraded their size and strength since the trickeration win over Oklahoma a few years ago. They still play creatively...but they can hurt you too. Ask Virginia Tech about that. If you watched that season opener, you probably noticed that Boise was just as physical at the point of attack as the Hokies were. And, the Hokies are physical!

*Boise knows they've got a shot at a decent TV audience because the slate just isn't packed this week with high profile major conference outings. They'll be splitting the eyeballs in the mid-afternoon window with LSU/Alabama (two teams people have seen a lot of already), and a horrible four-way yawner of regional stuff on ABC. BOISE KNOWS THEY NEED TO MAKE A STATEMENT.

*Boise may be A LOT better than Nevada this year. Hawaii can't get a false sense of confidence from the win over the Wolfpack or this game will be over soon. Boise is for real. Maybe not quite as for real as Auburn or Oregon. But...then again...Virginia Tech may have something to say about that.

There's a chance NETWORK will be involved in this game in a serious way. We're also looking closely at TCU-Utah and LSU-Alabama obviously. Other games getting serious consideration for Saturday:

Arkansas at South Carolina
Arizona at Stanford
Illinois at Michigan
Oklahoma at Texas A&M

Plus any regional TV game because we know how much you love watching yourself win on Saturdays...and several 'off the radar' games where lines are often much softer from November 1st onward.

You can purchase game day releases online a few hours before kickoff of the first game. We'll have something for you Friday Night in the TV doubleheader that includes Central Florida/Houston in CUSA. Be sure to check out our WEEKEND PASS program for just $99 that gives you a taste of all three of our marquee programs...the BLUE RIBBON, CLOSED CIRCUIT, and TOUCHDOWN clubs. Seasonal rates are available at discounted prices since we've passed the halfway mark of the season. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Something AMAZING is going to happen this Saturday in college football. Maybe it will happen in Boise. Maybe that's just a swerve. Link up with JIM HURLEY right now to make sure you get early word on a result fans and pundits will be talking about the rest of the season.

DON'T MISS THE FIRST SATURDAY IN A NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER!

This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.

23
Nov

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