Big Al's Daily Angle: NCAA and NFL Football Preview

by Alec McMordie

Two football games headline the Thursday sports card.

First place in the AFC South will be on the line for Thursday Night Football in a showdown between the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans.

Tennessee claimed first place in the division on Sunday with their 24-17 victory at home against Chicago as a 6.5-point favorite. That win snapped a two-game losing streak and raised their record to a 6-2 mark. The Titans won that game despite being outgained by -147 net yards. Tennessee scored on a 63-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown that turned out to be the difference in the game.

Indianapolis saw their record drop to a 5-3 mark on Sunday with their 24-10 loss at home to Baltimore as a 1-point favorite. The Colts outgained the Ravens by +139 net yards but could not overcome a 65-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown scored by the Baltimore defense. Indianapolis’ offense was only on the field for 26:34 minutes of the game.

These two teams split their two divisional meetings last year, with the road team winning in both instances. The Colts upset the Titans in Nashville on September 15th by a 19-17 score before Tennessee returned the favor in Indianapolis on December 1st with their 31-17 victory.

BookMaker lists Indianapolis as a 1-point favorite with the total set at 48.5. The kickoff on Fox and the NFL Network is at 8:20 PM ET.

The Thursday night college football clash on ESPN features two teams for the Mountain West Conference.

Colorado State evened their record at 1-1 last Thursday with their 34-24 upset victory at home against Wyoming as a 3-point underdog. The Rams opened up the scoring in the first quarter with a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown. Colorado State forced three turnovers against the Cowboys, which helped them overcome getting outgained by -123 yards. The Rams gave up 465 yards to Wyoming yet were often bailed out by their six sacks and 13 tackles-for-loss that they generated.

Senior quarterback Patrick O’Brien completed 18 of 26 passes for 255 yards with two touchdown passes and no interceptions. He added another touchdown on the ground. The Rams gained only 342 yards against the Cowboys, but they only had the ball for 26:27 minutes. Colorado State averaged 5.42 yards-per-play last week.

Boise State was embarrassed in a 51-17 loss at home to BYU last Friday. Things began going south for the Broncos when quarterback Jack Sears was knocked out of that game in the first quarter with a concussion. The junior transfer from USC had started hot by completing all four of his passes for 41 yards. He was under center because the starter last year, Hank Bachmeier, has been out with a COVID-related issue. True freshman, Cade Fennegan, was forced into duty against the Cougars’ defense. He completed 15 of 26 passes for 182 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. However, he could not overcome a BYU offense that racked up 574 yards against the Boise State defense that pulled away in the second half of that game after going into halftime with a 16-3 lead.

Head coach Bryan Harsin has been mum about the quarterback status for this game. Privacy reasons preclude the discussion of Bachmeier’s health situation after he did not make the trip to Air Force two weeks ago. Sears is in the concussion protocol program. If Fennegan makes his first career start, he will not have the services of running back George Halani, who is doubtful with the knee injury that kept him out of the BYU game. The sophomore rushed for 1014 yards while earning the MWC Freshman of the Year award last season.

BetAnySports lists Boise State as a 14.5-point favorite with the total set at 61.5. The ESPN broadcast starts at 8 PM ET. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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