OREGON DUCKS (7-5)
at BOISE STATE BRONCOS (10-3)
Las Vegas Bowl Ė Sam Boyd Stadium Ė Las Vegas, NV
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Line: Oregon -7.5, Total: 59.0
Under new head coach Mario Cristobal, Oregon will be looking to gain some momentum for the 2018 season by defeating Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The Ducks lost head coach Willie Taggart to Florida State just a few weeks ago, which is kind of a slap in the face for this program. Oregon has been in the national championship picture as recently as four years ago, so it was definitely a bit odd to see somebody come to Eugene for only a year. Still, the Ducks are going to be feeling good about their chances in this one. They locked up Cristobal to be their coach for the near future, and they are very happy with him there. The players love him and he also recruits as well as anybody in the Pac-12. Itís just going to be interesting to see what type of style this team plays, as it has always been up-tempo and nobody really knows if thatís the way he plans on having his team play. It is, however, safe to say that he wonít change too much heading into this one. Boise State is coming off of yet another great season, as the Broncos won the Mountain West Conference Championship. The Broncos beat a good Fresno State team in that one, and they will be eager to put together an 11-win year here. One trend that favors the Ducks in this game is the fact that they are 42-23 ATS versus teams that average eight or more passing yards per attempt since 1992. Boise State, however, gets to face a Ducks team that is 0-6 ATS against teams that commit one or fewer turnovers per game over the past two seasons.
The Ducks might have been just 7-5 this season, but they were a much better team when QB Justin Herbert was playing. Herbert was the perfect quarterback to run Willie Taggartís system, and itís likely that theyíll continue to run the same offense against Boise State with Cristobal in charge now. Herbert is a very solid passer, and he also has mobility for this Ducks team. If they need him to make a play with his legs then he is going to do it. And when this passing game is clicking, itís nearly impossible to stop Oregonís running game. RB Royce Freeman is easily one of the best running backs in the nation, and heíll be looking to put on a show in his last game in an Oregon uniform. Over the final two games of the regular season, Freeman rushed for a total of six touchdowns in games against Arizona and Oregon State. Boise State has a better defense than both of those schools, but the Broncos also play high-scoring games sometimes. That means that Freeman will have his chances here. And on defense, the main goal for Oregon is to have some solid play in the secondary. Boise State is a pass-first team, so the Ducks need to be prepared to defend that.
Boise State defeated Fresno State 17-14 in the MWC Championship a few weeks back, and the team did it with the ground game. The Broncos rushed for 109 yards and two scores in that game, which is something they can only hope they bring against Oregon in this one. The Ducks have a very beatable defense, so it shouldnít be hard for the Broncos to find a few holes in this one. If they can do that then life on QB Brett Rypien will be a lot easier. Boise State has traditionally been a team that loves to air it out, but Rypien has not had much success lately. The junior has failed to throw for a touchdown in two straight games, which is something that will likely change against Oregon. This game should be very high scoring, so throws will be there for Rypien. He can give Boise State a great chance in this one by simply taking care of the football. Any extra possessions for Oregon will be dangerous for the Broncos. Defensively, stopping the run is the main priority for this Boise State team. The Ducks can throw, but their offense is a lot worse when Freeman doesnít have it going.