BOISE ID - SEPTEMBER 25: Linebacker Billy Derome #25 of the Boise State Broncos leads his team onto the field before the game against the Oregon State Beavers at Bronco Stadium on September 25 2010 in Boise Idaho. (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
Boise State is not the powerhouse it used to be and the Thursday night point spread against BYU is proof of it. Still, the Broncos have been very tough at home, winning 21 of 22 on the blue turf.
The Boise State Broncos almost never lose at home, but this is by far the smallest point spread they have seen on the blue turf in many years as the BYU Cougars visit Thursday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).
"BYU has improved, and Boise is rebuilding, but the Broncos have performed very well facing point spreads of 8 or less," said Jack Randall of OddsShark.com, pointing to the 12-4 ATS mark in 16 games like this dating back to 2002.
By Wednesday, Bovada was seeing roughly split action on the game. "Maybe 55 per cent or on Boise," sportsbook manager Kevin Bradley said.
BYU opened its season with a 30-6 victory over Washington State, then beat Weber State (FCS), 45-13. But Saturday the Cougars lost a tough one in a rivalry game against Utah, 24-21.
BYU rallied from a 24-7 deficit to get within three points late in the game, only to miss two field goals at the very end that would have forced overtime. They covered the spread as 13-point favorites over Wazzu, but couldn't cover 38 points vs. Weber State and lost outright as 3.5-point favorites vs. the Utes.
Boise State opened its season with a tough 17-13 loss at Michigan State, then came home and beat Miami (Ohio) Saturday, 39-12. The Broncos actually got thoroughly outplayed by the Spartans, with their only touchdown coming on an interception return. But BSU managed to cover the spread as 8-point underdogs.
The Broncos then also covered as 21-point favorites over Miami, even though they trailed late into the first half before eventually pulling away, racking up 599 yards of offense in the process.
BYU returned 14 starters this year, seven on both sides of the ball, from a team that went 10-3 last year, while Boise State had just seven starters back, just two on defense, from a team that went 12-1 last season.
Unfortunately for college football fans, these two teams haven't met since 2004, when Boise State scored late to win, 28-27. How many great games might these teams have played over the last five or six seasons had they met regularly?
Free Pick: Boise State is going through a rebuilding season, finally, and is not the power it usually is. We'll take the points here with BYU. Get line updates and more via Twitter.