Back Northwestern to Cover With Week 1 College Football Picks

David Lawrence

Thursday, July 17, 2014 3:09 PM GMT

The California Golden Bears could not have been much worse last season, in the initial go-round for head coach Sonny Dykes. The Northwestern Wildcats suffered their worst season in several years after winning a rare bowl game at the end of the 2012 season and making several other bowl appearances in a previous stretch of seasons. How will these teams compete in 2014 after being roughed up last season? The season opener for these teams could set a tone.

California Golden Bears @ Northwestern Wildcats
Saturday, August 30th - TBA
NCAA Football Odds: Northwestern -14

The Golden Bears can win because…
They have nowhere to go but up. The Golden Bears got used to Dykes, their new coach, last season. They didn’t have a lot of depth to speak of, and what’s more is that the transition to a passing offense with a less power-based component, they were just not in position to outmuscle opponents. They needed to do everything based on finesse, and the fit just wasn’t there. The Golden Bears made lots of mistakes, and they didn’t have the offensive line to give their quarterback the comfort zone he needed in a transitional year.

Now, as California starts its second season under Dykes, there’s a much more realistic chance that you’ll see improvement. First seasons in college under new coaches generally bring about ugly results unless the talent base is there and the recruiting pipeline is one of the best in the region. California is not in a position to build quickly. The Golden Bears are in a process defined by slow growth, but with the first year under Dykes now out of the way, Cal might be able to get the jump in year two, so it is worth keeping them in mind when making your College Football picks this season. What could also help is that the Golden Bears will be going up against a Northwestern team that failed to make a bowl game last season.

 

The Wildcats can win because…
They endured a lot of injuries last season and generally experienced the kind of bad luck that doesn’t visit a team on an annual basis. Injuries are a basic part of football, one of the sport’s most important variables. Northwestern, like Florida and a few other teams, could not field the team it wanted to put on the gridiron for much of last season. That’s how a team that won a bowl game the previous season and had established a track record of quality consistency suddenly slips downward, to the point of missing a bowl game and not even gaining a .500 record during the regular season. This year, the Wildcats should definitely be better. Trevor Siemian is an experienced quarterback who gained plenty of snaps when former NU quarterback Kain Colter was injured. Siemian should be able to give cohesion to the Wildcats’ offense in this season opener, which will prove valuable.

 

Outlook & NCAA Football Betting Prediction
If Northwestern is relatively intact in this game and does not suffer injuries in August camp leading up to the start of the 2014 season, it should be deeper and tougher on the two front lines, and that should enable the Wildcats to blow out the Bears, who are really still trying to get on their feet and should not be trusted.
NCAA Football Picks: We recommend you take Northwestern -14 at TheGreek as your betting pick on this game.

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