Mountain West championship betting preview: Hawaii will score on Boise State
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The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and Boise State Broncos meet for the second time this season, though the stakes are much higher this time around. Here's everything you need to know about the Mountain West title game from a betting perspective.

Line movement

This is a pretty interesting handicap. Boise State closed as a 12.5-point favorite in the teams' prior meeting and covered in a resounding 59-37 win. However, that was with Broncos starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier under center. On Saturday, Boise State will turn to its third-stringer, Jaylon Henderson, who's hardly skipped a beat since stepping in following injuries to Bachmeier and backup Chase Cord. After opening as 15.5-point favorites, it's no surprise to see the Broncos get bet down to -13.5, with some -14s floating around there.

After flying over the total of 60 in the prior meeting, the total for Saturday is sitting in the 64-64.5 range. While it'll be the highest total for a Boise game all season, it's nothing out of the ordinary for Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors have only seen two totals this season close lower than 60, which were their two most recent games against Army (55) and San Diego State (46.5).

Betting trends

Playing in an odd time zone in front of your home crowd has its obvious benefits. But there are also drawbacks when you then have to go on the road, which is why it's no surprise that Hawaii is just 5-11-1 against the spread in its last 17 games as a visitor. The Rainbow Warriors have also struggled against good teams, covering just seven of their previous 25 contests versus clubs with winning records.

The real profitable trend has been playing Hawaii overs. The Rainbow Warriors went 8-5 to the over this season and have cashed 11 of their last 12 as double-digit underdogs.

Boise State allowed close to 40 points to Hawaii earlier this year, and it wasn't by accident. The program regularly fields a stout defense, but this season has yielded different results. Boise State ranks No. 53 in SP+ defense and hasn't faced a daunting schedule. Here's the list of the team's previous opponents, where they rank in SP+ offense, and how many points they scored on Boise:

Opponent SP+ Rank Points Scored
Florida State No. 45 31
Marshall No. 97 7
Portland State NA 10
Air Force No. 27 19
UNLV No. 111 13
Hawaii No. 19 37
BYU No. 72 28
San Jose State No. 63 42
Wyoming No. 110 17
New Mexico No. 108 9
Utah State No. 82 21
Colorado State No. 83 24

Boise State has allowed just 17 points per game versus offenses in the bottom half of SP+ this season but has surrendered an average of 32.3 points against offensive units in the top half of SP+.

Now you know.

X-factor

Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald is well-regarded as a passer. He's thrown for more than 3,400 yards through the air this season and has six games with at least three touchdown passes. But his biggest impact Saturday may come on the ground. In his prior outing versus the Broncos, McDonald picked up 54 yards and a score with his legs. Pressure rarely gets home against a run-and-shoot offense, but if the pocket collapses, McDonald needs to conjure up the same magic against a solid Boise State line.

Pick

Hawaii team total over 24.5

The only downside of this is the weather. Boise, Idaho, is calling for temperatures in the mid-40s this weekend, a far cry from the 81 degrees it'll be in Honolulu. Outside of that, all the pieces are in place for the Rainbow Warriors to score.

The aforementioned chart outlines just how easy the Broncos have had it this season, and how difficult things have been against offenses classified as above average. The other upside in this handicap is that Hawaii's defense has been atrocious at times. There was a stretch from Weeks 6-10 in which the Rainbow Warriors allowed 40 or more points in four of five outings, including a season-high 59 to these same Broncos. If Saturday echoes that trend, Hawaii should get plenty of possessions and more opportunities later in the contest in a negative game script.

Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKoIodziej.

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Mountain West championship betting preview: Hawaii will score on Boise State
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