Northwestern at Cal Picks and Week 1 College Football Odds
by Dave Schwab - 7/18/2013
In an opening day Big Ten/ Pac-12 clash, the Northwestern Wildcats travel to Memorial Stadium in Berkeley to tangle with the California Golden Bears on Saturday, Aug.31. The game is set to get underway at 10:30 p.m. (ET), and it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.
Northwestern made its presence felt in the Big Ten last season with a 5-3 record in conference play. It posted one of its best seasons in school history and ran its overall record to 10-3 with a convincing 34-20 victory over Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl as a 1.5-point favorite.
The Golden Bears did not fare nearly as well with just two conference wins and an overall record of 3-9. After posting back-to-back victories both straight up and against the spread over UCLA and Washington State, they closed out the season with five-straight losses both SU and ATS.
Northwestern at California Storylines
The Wildcats may be a +14000 longshot to win a national title this season, but they are expected to once again be a factor in the Big Ten title chase as +265 second-favorites to win the Legends Division and +600 third-favorites to win the conference title. They return eight starters on offense, including all-conference running back Venric Mark, who rushed for 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Quarterback Kain Colter proved to be a dual-threat after rushing for 894 yards and 12 scores on 170 carries. Overall, the offense was ranked 19th in nation in 2012 with an average of 225.5 rushing yards a game.
Northwestern returns seven starters from a defense that allowed an average of 22.5 points a game, which was ranked 29th in Division IA. There will be a few new faces in the front seven, but three of four starters return in the secondary, including cornerbacks Daniel Jones and Nick Van Hoose.
California comes into this season opener with Sonny Dykes at the helm as the team’s new head coach. He certainly has his work cut out for him trying to rebuild an offense that averaged 23 points a game last season to go along with a defense that gave up an average of 33.1 points. The Golden Bears were torched for an average of 47.8 points in the final four games of the year.
Freshman Jared Goff appears to have the edge over Austin Hinder at quarterback, but neither player has any experience as a starter. Running back Brendan Bigelow is poised for a big year after gaining 431 yards last season as the team’s third-leading rusher. There are more questions than answers on defense as new coordinator Andy Buh transitions from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme.
Northwestern at California Betting Tends and Futures Odds
Northwestern has been opened as an 8.5-point road favorite by BetOnline in its early lines for Week 1 of the college football season. The total for this game remains “off” the board at this time.
The Wildcats have covered the spread in 12 of their last 13 games and are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games on the road. The total has stayed “under” in seven of their last eight games against nonconference opponents.
The Golden Bears are 1-6 ATS in their last seven home games but 4-0 ATS in their last four games against the Big Ten. The total has stayed under in eight of their last 10 games played at home.
This will be the first meeting between these two teams in recent history.
Northwestern at California Picks and Week 1 College Football Betting Predictions
It is always a risk to lay points on the road in an opening-day matchup, but the Wildcats are in position to be even better than last year’s squad. They also fully realize that these are the type of games they have to win with authority to keep the program moving forward. Bank on Northwestern to do just that with a victory that easily covers the 8.5 points.
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