LA Bowl: UCLA vs. Boise State Expert Pick and Prediction – December 16, 2023
LA BOWL: UCLA VS. BOISE STATE EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – December 16, 2023 — The biggest question with this game is simple: which team really wants to be here?
UCLA clearly didn’t look like a team that wanted anything to do with its season finale. The Bruins played completely disinterested against California, losing their final home game by a 33-7 count (and earning John Fredericks some bragging rights).
Things haven’t really gotten any better since for UCLA, as quarterback Dante Moore hit the transfer portal, Pac-12 defensive player of the year Laiatu Latu opted out for the NFL draft and the Bruins will be missing their defensive coordinator after failing against the Golden Bears.
Things aren’t a lot better in Boise. Taylen Green is now with Arkansas after jumping into the transfer portal and Maddux Madsen got knocked out for the season with injury. Boise State only has one quarterback on its roster in C.J. Tiller, and he’s got as many collegiate pass attempts as most people reading this have, which is to say none.
That said, the Broncos do have some talent left on the roster and a coach they want to play for. Boise State wants to make a statement for new coach Spencer Danielson, who had the interim tag removed after he took over for Andy Avalos and went 3-0 to secure the Mountain West title. UCLA doesn’t look anywhere near as excited to play for Chip Kelly, who many Bruins fans wanted fired.
(7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS)
(8-5 SU, 7-5-1 ATS)
When: Saturday, December 16th at 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, Calif.
Public Bets: 76% on Boise State
Public Money: 59% on Boise State
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of December 13th, 2023.
UCLA vs. Boise State In-Season Trends
Keep in mind, many of the key players who caused the results in the regular season won’t be around for this game. However, Boise has covered five of its past six, with the lone exception a 37-30 loss to Fresno State. The Broncos are in the role of the underdog this time, which is a new situation. On the year, Boise is 1-2-1 ATS as a dog, covering only against Central Florida in Week 2.
UCLA went the other direction to close the season, failing to cover in four of five. The one exception was the one time that UCLA was the underdog, as the Bruins blasted USC on the road. But otherwise, the Bruins ended their season losing to bowl-ineligible Arizona State, .500 California and an Arizona team that might have ended up the second-best team in the Pac-12.
With the roof in place, the game won’t see any impact from weather.
Good luck. Ethan Garbers might qualify if he plays, as he gives UCLA the most experienced quarterback on the field. But otherwise, the Bruins don’t really have much to write home about here. UCLA got hit hard by opt-outs and is a team in flux anyway with defensive coordinator D’Anthony Lynn gone.
Boise State does still have Ashton Jeanty, who was the Mountain West’s offensive player of the year with 1,262 rushing yards. However, Jeanty faces the best run defense in the Pac-12. UCLA might have given up 33 points to California, but that was because the Bruins’ offense blew the game with four turnovers. The defense should still play solid football.
Desire wins bowl games far more than talent, and I think Boise has a stronger desire to be here. The Broncos got to travel, they get to play a team that’s joining the Big Ten and they get a chance to prove to their administration that they hired the right man.
UCLA has none of that going for it. The Bruins are punching down to a Mountain West team, even if it is the league champion. They were disinterested on Senior Day at home; it seems unlikely things will go better across town. A team that didn’t show up against California probably isn’t going to bring its best game against Boise, and the lack of talent on offense on both sides says under is the way to play.
Boise State +4.5