Saturday, December 19, 2020, Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada, 4:15 p.m., ET
Spartans vs. Broncos Betting Preview: Spartans (+6.5), Broncos (-6.5)
No. 25 San Jose State will be making the program’s first appearance in a conference championship game when it takes on Boise State for the Mountain West title.
The Spartans (6-0, 6-0 Mountain West) earned their way in with a 30-20 victory over Nevada last week.
“It’s just been this incredible journey of ups and downs and finding ways to overcome,” coach Brett Brennan said. “It’s been fun. It’s been really special.”
A meeting scheduled for Nov. 28 at Boise State was canceled. The Spartans have never beaten the Broncos in 14 meetings.
“Boise State is such a unique program,” Brennan said. “If you look back, way back, this team has won and had success forever.”
Not so for the Spartans, who haven’t had a winning record since an 11-2 mark in 2012. They were 6-6 in 2013. A win over the Broncos this week would make the Spartans 7-0 for the first time since 1939 and be their first over the Broncos after 14 losses.
Graduate transfer Nick Starkel has found success with the Spartans after stints at first Texas A&M and then Arkansas. He has passed for an average of 242.2 yards a game in completing 66.2 percent of his attempts.
Bailey Gaither (36 catches, 627 yards) and Tre Walker (31-405) have combined for 67 receptions with seven touchdowns, and Tyler Nevens had rushed for 454 yards and five scores.
The Spartans have averaged 30.3 points a game and held opponents to just 17.5 with Kyle Harmon leading the way with a team-high 67 tackles, 3.0 for losses.
Boise State (5-1, 5-0 Mountain West) is in the unusual position of being the unranked team in this matchup. The Broncos will be making its fifth appearance in the eight MWC title games and their fourth in a row. They will be going for their fifth MWC crown.
It looks to be a classic example of offense versus defense with the Broncos scoring at a 36.2 points a game pace against a San Jose defense that has limited its six opponents to less than half that a game.
Hank Bachmeier has averaged 232.2 yards a game passing with six touchdowns against two interceptions, and Khalil Shakir has a team-best 46 receptions for 634 yards and six touchdowns. Andrew Van Buren leads the Mountain West with eight rushing touchdowns.
The Broncos also have had success on defense as well.
In last week’s 17-9 win over Wyoming, they gave up only 146 yards, their fewest allowed since keeping Northern Illinois to 33 in the 2015 Poinsettia Bowl.
For the season, Boise State has given up only 169.0 passing yards per game, the sixth-best mark nationally and best in the Mountain West, and they have stopped opponents on third down 73.6 percent of the time, which ranks fourth nationally.
Spartans vs. Broncos Betting Pick for December 19, 2020
The Spartans and Broncos were scheduled to meet on Nov. 28 but the game was canceled They had two common opponents with Boise State beating Air Force 49-30 and Hawai’i 40-32 and San Jose winning 17-6 over Air Force and 35-24 over Hawai’i.
Spartans vs. Broncos Betting Pick:
Broncos 42, Spartans 20
Spartans vs. Broncos Best Bet for December 19, 2020
The Spartans have topped the 30-point mark their last three games and four times overall this season and came up just short in a 28-17 win over San Diego State in early November. The Broncos are coming off a 17-9 win over Wyoming that matched their season low in a 51-17 loss to BYU. They have scored at least 40 points in their other four games.
Spartans vs. Broncos Best Bet: OVER 55