Unless you follow the Pac-12 closely, you might not be aware of who the best quarterback in college football might be. That’s Washington State’s Luke Falk, who is a Heisman contender and could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. His No. 24 Cougars open their season on Saturday vs. FCS school Montana State as betting favorites in the college football odds.
Montana St. at Washington St. College Football Odds & Pick for Week 1Fox Sports GoRadio: KGEZ 600 AM (Montana State) / Washington State IMG College Sports Network (Washington State)Opening College Football Odds: Wazzu -33.5 (57)
- Clear: 23°C/73°F
- Humidity: 27%
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- Wind: 1 mph E
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- Type of Stadium: Open
Why Bet On Montana State?Perhaps the Cougars will overlook the Bobcats. Montana State’s coach is Jeff Choate. He was an assistant at WSU in 2012. He coached the Cougars’ linebackers in Mike Leach’s first season, then made stops at UTEP and Florida before returning to the Pacific Northwest to take on the special teams coordinator and defensive line assistant coaching job at UW for two seasons. Then he was hired at Montana State in Dec. 2015.The Bobcats finished 4-7 in Choate’s first season in 2016. The team he leads to Pullman features 15 returning starters, but also 14 players on Montana State's two-deep who begin their first varsity season with the Cats.
Who Will Start as Quarterback for the Bobcats?QB Chris Murray returns. In five games as the starter in 2016, Murray went 2-3 and finished as the Big Sky Freshman of the Year, with 1,638 total offensive yards. He had 12 rushing touchdowns last season, while managing only six touchdowns though he threw eight interceptions and had a 44.8 completion percentage. This could have been a reunion game for ex-MSU QB Tyler Bruggman, but the former Cougar backup transferred to Texas A&M this offseason when it was clear Murray would be the Bobcats’ starter.Starting running back Logan Jones enters the season with only eight career carries, while starting cornerbacks Bryce Alley and Damien Washington have combined for five career starts – all by Alley. FCS teams have defeated ranked FBS opponents only four times. But it’s also worth noting that Washington State has lost its past two openers to lower-division teams, although the Cougars were unranked both times. WSU is winless in season openers under Leach (0-5).
Why Bet On Washington State?The Cougars posted an 8-5 record last season, finishing second in the Pac 12 North and earning a Holiday Bowl bid. WSU’s 23 rushing touchdowns in 2016 were the most since the 1997 team rushed for 27 TD. WSU running backs lead all Pac-12 backs with 31 total touchdowns and are third with 2,591 total yards. WSU produced a school-record four 50-point games in 2016.The Washington State Air Raid offense returns seven starters after putting up big numbers once again in 2016, finishing third in the country in passing offense (362.5), seventh in first downs (26.2/g), No. 15 in third down conversions (47.1), No. 18 in scoring (38.2) and total offense (482.5). WSU set a couple program single-season records for the most touchdowns scored (67) and points (496) and the third-most total yards (6,273).
Has Falk Grown as a Quarterback?Falk has benefited from Leach’s system. The third-year starter averaged 343.7 passing yards a game last season, and has 10,893 career passing yards. With only 411 passing yards, Falk will pass Connor Halliday (11,304) and move to No. 1 on the all-time list at WSU. With 2,713, he’ll move past Sean Mannion and become the Pac-12’s all-time leader. With 4,144 passing yards – he had 4,468 last season and 4,500-plus the year before, just to show how manageable it is – Falk will join only five other players in the history of the college game who’ve thrown for 15,000 yards or more.Last year, Falk attempted more passes than anyone in the country, but only one other quarterback – Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield – hit them at a higher completion percentage. Mayfield’s clip was 71percent, Falk’s was 70.Falk’s top two receivers from last year are gone, but the running back quartet of Jamal Morrow, James Williams, Gerard Wicks and Keith Harrington were more productive from the line of scrimmage than any other group in the Pac-12 last season. Offensive guard Cody O'Connell is a returning unanimous All- America, and defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa is considered among the top tackles in college football.
Series HistoryWashington State leads the all-time series with Montana State 8-0, six of those wins coming in Pullman including the last meeting, 23-22 in 2010.
College Football Odds Trends
- Montana State is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games
- Montana State is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games on the road
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Washington State’s last 5 games at home
- Washington State is 8-3 SU in its last 11 games at home
- Washington State is 15-8 ATS in its last 23 games