Game Time: 7:00 pm ET, Thursday, September 2, 2021
Venue: Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando, FL
Where to Watch: ESPN
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Broncos +4.5, Knights -4.5; Over/Under: 68 points
Bet365: Broncos +5, Knights -5; Over/Under: 68.5 points
BetMGM: Broncos +5, Knights -5; Over/Under: 68.5 points
Boise State Broncos: 0-0 (MW Mountain)
Central Florida Knights: 0-0 (AAC)
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Boise State Broncos vs Central Florida Knights Preview and Analysis
Boise State Broncos: 1 game losing streak from last season
Central Florida Knights: 1 game losing streak from last season
Broncos vs Knights Prediction
The Boise State Broncos will be meeting with the UCF Knights on Thursday for their first game of this year's college football season. BSU is coming off of a strong year last season where they finished in 2nd place of the Mountain West Conference. They finished with a record of 5-2 overall and were 5-0 in conference play. They were also 3-1 on the road where they will be in this game on Thursday. UCF has had better seasons than last year as they finished in 4th place of the AAC. They had an overall record of 6-4 and they were 5-3 in conference play. They were also just a measly 2-2 at home in the Bounce House where they will be on Thursday.
The Broncos finished last season on a 3 game win streak that ended in their very last game of the year as they lost 34-20 to San Jose State who went on to win the conference. The Boise State offense was pretty good last season under coach Bryan Harsin. They were averaging a 62.6% completion percentage, 241.9 passing yards, and 1.7 touchdowns per game in the passing game. Their rushing averaged 110.7 yards and 1.9 touchdowns per game on the ground. Their defense was great at defending the passing game allowing a 52.8% completion percentage, 209.6 yards passing, and 1.4 touchdowns against per game. It was the run defense they struggled with allowing 163.7 yards rushing and 1.9 touchdowns against per game. He has now moved on to the Auburn Tigers as Andy Avalos has taken over. This is his first year as a head coach. He has spent some time as an assistant at Boise State and at Oregon but now returns to his alma mater to run the show. There are some disadvantages to having a first time coach as his coaching style is unknown so no one knows exactly what to expect. There are also advantages of implementing the new system as well and drawing up new plays that these teams are not used to seeing from them. The players definitely have the right mentality coming into this season though. They think that they can do much better than they did last year, despite having a pretty good season, and they have their sights set on taking home the conference title.
The Knight finished off last season strong winning 4 of their last 5 games to end the season, their 1 loss coming to the Cincinnati Bearcats who went on to win the conference. They then lost their final game of the year 49-23 to BYU in the Boca Raton Bowl. The UCF offense was electric last season in both the passing and the run game. They had an average of a 60% completion percentage, 357.4 passing yards, and 3.2 touchdowns per game. They were also averaging 210.7 rushing yards and 4.7 touchdowns per game on the ground. This is definitely a team that was not afraid to pass it deep or run it right down your throat. Their defense was not the greatest though, and most likely the reason why they had to put up so many points per game. They were allowing teams to have a 59.7% completion percentage, 299.2 passing yards, and 2.6 TDs against per game through the air. They were also allowing 192.6 rushing yards and 1.7 touchdowns against per game on the ground. Head coach Josh Heupal has left this offseason and will be replaced by Gus Malzahn coming from Auburn. The Auburn offense only averaged 220.3 yards and 1.1 touchdowns through the air last season. Their run game was not great either, averaging 162.5 yards rushing and 1.5 touchdowns per game on the ground. It will be interesting to see how much his style will affect this already potent offense for the Knights.
Both of these teams are very talented and can put up points when needed. UCF has a very strong offense but their defense has shown many weaknesses the past few seasons. Now with their new coach, they could be implementing a whole new style that has the potential to help them excel or to hinder them completely. Boise State is looking to build on a very strong season and is hungry for their conference title. They also have a new coach but they also have a very good ATS record on the road and that comes from the players that are out on the field. This could be a real close game so the value is on Boise State here.
Broncos Knights Prediction: Our NCAAF Pick for Thursday, September 2, 2021 (7:00 pm ET start time) is Broncos 45 Knights 42.
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NCAAF Betting Trends
Boise State Broncos: 10-3 streak ATS as a road underdog of 7 points or less.
Central Florida Knights: 5-2 streak ATS against non-conference opponents.
Boise State Broncos: Jack Sears (QB) Questionable for Thursday with a lower body injury.
Central Florida Knights: R.J. Harvey (RB) Out for season with a knee injury.
Players to Watch
Boise State Broncos: Quarterback Hank Bachmeier is one player to watch in this game as he will be the starter for the Broncos in this one. This is his 3rd season returning to BSU. In his first year he played in 8 games completing 137/219 (62.6%) passes for 1879 yards and 9 touchdowns. Last season he played in 5 games completing 96/157 (61.1%) passes for 1150 yards and 6 touchdowns. He will be looking to build on his 2 years played and will want to start the season off on a good note.
Central Florida Knights: Quarterback Dillon Gabriel is one player to watch in this game. This is his 3rd year returning to UCF. In his first year he played in 13 games completing 236/398 (59.3%) passes for 3653 yards and 29 touchdowns. In his last season he played in 10 games completing 248/413 (60%) passes for 3570 yards and 32 touchdowns. His numbers only improved from first year to second and he played in 3 less games. He will be looking to improve those monster numbers even more as he tries to put a show on at home to open the season.
“Is our training session exactly like what it’s going to feel like down there? No, but it’s a great opportunity for people to get an understanding of what it’s going to feel like. Not only that but [also] the things we have to accomplish within our hydration process leading up to the game.” - Andy Avalos on his indoor “inferno” training sessions to prepare his team for the humidity they are going to face in Florida.
“I feel like from the start until right now, we are looking really good. Coach Gus (Malzahn) and Coach (Darrell) Wyatt stress just getting better a little bit every day. . . I think we have the (wide receiver) talent to be the best not only in the (American Athletic) Conference, but one of the best in the nation.” - Ryan O’Keefe talking about his coaches belief in the entire team this season.
Projected Team Lineups
Boise State Broncos
H. Bachmeier (QB)
G. Holani (RB)
A. Van Buren (RB)
S. Cobbs (WR)
K. Shakir (WR)
CT Thomas (WR)
R. Smith (TE)
Central Florida Knights
D. Gabriel (QB)
M-A. Richards (RB)
J. Richardson (RB)
J. Robinson (WR)
R. O’Keefe (WR)
B. Johnson (WR)
J. Hescock (TE)
Boise State Broncos: Andy Avalos
Central Florida Knights: Gus Malzahn
81 degrees F 77% humidity, 30% chance of rain, up to 13 mph wind speeds SW.