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Boise State vs. UCF best bets

The Gus Malzahn era will get started at UCF on Thursday night with a season opener against Boise State.

NCAA Football: Central Florida Spring Game Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Update 7:05 p.m. Looks like it will be closer to 7:50 before we get a kickoff.

Update 6:27 p.m. There is lightning in the area and the stadium has been cleared. We’ll update here when we have a new game time.

Both Boise State and Central Florida often finish the season in the AP Top 25, but as they meet in Week 1 the two most successful G5 programs of the last several years are receiving votes, though not a ranking.

The Broncos begin their transition from Bryan Harsin to Andy Avalos, and the Knights go from Josh Heupel to Gus Malzahn, who Harsin is replacing at Auburn. But that’s life when you don’t have a large conference TV contract, and why programs will often ebb and flow at the lower levels. Keeping up with past success is the challenge here, and this will be a key matchup for both teams come the end of the season.

Updated SP+ per team

Boise State: 39 (45 Offense, 52 Defense)
Central Florida: 34 (12 Offense, 79 Defense)

Injury update for both teams

Boise State

QB Jack Sears is questionable (lower body)

Central Florida

RB R.J. Harvey is out for the season (torn ACL)

ATS/Total

C. Florida -5.5 (% of handle, % of bets)
Total 68 (Over -105), (% of handle, % of bets)

Bet Splits from DraftKings Sportsbook

Boise State: % of handle, % of bets
Central Florida: % of handle, % of bets

Returning talent/recruiting talent (of 130 FBS teams)

Boise State
Offense 51, Defense 61, Team 57
UCF
Offense 53, Defense 67, Team 62

Weather

74 degrees, 18% chance of rain in Orlando

The pick: UCF -5.5

The UCF Knights appear to have upgraded at the head coaching position after Josh Heupel left for the Tennessee Volunteers. They landed former Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn, who will start a season off the hot seat for the first time in what feels like forever. We’re betting he gets off to a good start in a matchup between a pair of Group of 5 power houses.

Dillon Gabriel established himself as a top-level college football quarterback in his third season as the starter for UCF. Boise State will enter their third consecutive season with a new offensive coordinator, and we’ll bet against them having the offense to keep up with UCF and fade Andy Avalos in his first game as a head coach.