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NY Post
New York Post
16 Dec 2023


NextImg:UCLA vs. Boise State prediction: LA Bowl odds, best bets for Saturday

The contrast in motivation couldn’t be any more obvious going into Saturday’s LA Bowl between UCLA and Boise State.

The 7-5 Bruins lost three of their final four games, including an embarrassing home loss to Cal, to end the regular season.

Their defensive coordinator, D’Anton Lynn, made a lateral move across town to take the USC job; and linebacker Laiatu Latu, the 2023 Lombardi Award winner and best player on UCLA’s defense, opted out of the bowl game.

Conversely, Boise State won its final four games to finish 8-5.

The Broncos cruised past UNLV and won the Mountain West Championship game by 24 points.

Boise State has all sorts of momentum and is looking to finish the season strong.

I think the Broncos will do just that, which is why I’m betting Boise State +4.5. 

The Broncos have been on a roll since making an in-season head coaching change by firing Andy Avalos and replacing him with 35-year-old Spencer Danielson.

Fox Sports reporter Allison Williams (left) interviews Boise State Broncos head coach Spencer Danielson after the Mountain West Championship against the UNLV Rebels at Allegiant Stadium.

Fox Sports reporter Allison Williams (left) interviews Boise State Broncos head coach Spencer Danielson after the Mountain West Championship against the UNLV Rebels at Allegiant Stadium. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Since the early-December change, the Broncos are 3-0 and outscoring opponents, 116-49.

However, it’s important to note that Boise State will have some questions at quarterback for Saturday’s game.

Taylen Green has entered the transfer portal and backup Maddux Madsen is out for the season, which likely leaves freshman CJ Tiller as the starter.

Obviously, that’s not ideal, but Boise has had a lot of success on the ground this season, and star running back Ashton Jeanty, who announced earlier this month that he will return next year, will play against UCLA.

Jeanty averaged 6.2 yards per carry this season and finished with 1,262 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.

 Ethan Garbers #4 of the UCLA Bruins passes under pressure from Shane Lee #53 of the USC Trojans during the second half of a game at United Airlines Field

Ethan Garbers #4 of the UCLA Bruins passes under pressure from Shane Lee #53 of the USC Trojans during the second half of a game at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Getty Images

UCLA will have the quarterback advantage as Ethan Garbers, who got hurt in the season finale, is expected to play.

However, the Bruins offense wasn’t exactly clicking at the end of the season, scoring 10 or fewer points in three of the team’s final four games.

The Bruins’ strength is their defense, but with Latu out and the DC now across town at USC, the defense that takes the field on Saturday night won’t be the same one that limited opponents to just 18 points per game in the regular season.

Don’t expect a freshman quarterback making his first start to light up what’s left of UCLA’s defense, but Jeanty’s presence should go a long way for the Broncos.

Can UCLA put enough together to get some stops and keep the game close? Sure. However, we just need the Broncos to cover, and Boise State, which scored 32.9 points per game and rushed for an average of 214.8 yards, should be able to run the ball enough to stay in the game.

UCLA certainly looks like the better team on paper, and I’d definitely be backing the Bruins – especially with such an advantage at quarterback – in the regular season. However, bowl games are often about motivation, and after UCLA limped to the finish, theirs is in question.

Back the Broncos on Saturday night.

Pick: Boise State +4