Two important games are taking place this weekend. The Boise State Broncos travel to Reno to take on Nevada, while Utah hosts BYU. Boise State and Utah are next to each other in the Associated Press, Harris Poll and USA Today Coaches' Poll. Actually, the Sagarin computer ratings say that Boise State is a little better than Utah, but we'll say they are roughly the same.
The interesting twist is that even though BYU is supposedly one of the top teams in the country, Vegas bettors prefer Nevada. At the start of the week, the point spread in both of these games was about the same (6 1/2 points). Yet bettors are betting heavily on Utah to beat BYU while moving the line towards Nevada and away from ninth-ranked Boise State. The Vegas line on the Mountain West game has now ballooned to seven while the Bronco-Wolf Pack game was down to just 5 1/2 points last night. In other words, people who are putting their money on the line think that Nevada has a better chance of beating Boise State than BYU does of beating Utah. And remember that Boise State and Utah are roughly the same. Bettors are essentially saying that if Nevada played BYU, Nevada would win. It's difficult to argue with that, given each team's results this season.
The season is long and many results have influenced people's thinking. Perhaps they are starting to look at the fact that the best teams that BYU beat outside of conference were Washington and UCLA. Were it not for Washington State, Washington would set the pace this season for futility. UCLA hasn't done a whole lot better than Washington. BYU's schedule doesn't hold a candle to Nevada, who gave #2 Texas Tech all they could handle. No one on the Cougars' schedule comes close to Texas Tech. Nevada also took on #13 Missouri. Add in this weekend's game with Boise State and the Wolf Pack will have played three games against Top 15 teams, compared to two for BYU.
Since Nevada is getting more respect than BYU, one has to wonder if the nation's voters are thinking the same thing. Perhaps a Boise State win on the road would be more impressive than a Utah win at home. Nevada is leading the nation in rushing while BYU isn't leading the country in anything.
The Boise State-Nevada game should be a barnburner, while it looks like Utah will blow out poor BYU.