Bet 'Under' for North Texas vs. Texas College Football Pick

Jeff Grant

Monday, July 28, 2014 2:22 PM GMT

Charlie Strong is one of the best defensive minds in college football, which will lead to a low-scoring affair in his Texas Longhorns debut against the North Texas Mean Green.

Plenty of motivation
North Texas registered its highest win total since 2002 in finishing with a 9-4 record last season, as it now prepares to face two in-state opponents (SMU on Sept. 6) with nine returning starters in the opening two weeks.

The Mean Green have lost all nine of their all-time meetings against the Longhorns, with this one set to kickoff off on Saturday, Aug. 30, at 8:00 p.m. ET at Texas Memorial Stadium - dropping the last three by a combined 148-7 margin.

College football handicappers will find that the program is 2-17 straight up in its last 19 road openers, including an 0-15 SU mark versus BCS foes.

 

A new sheriff in town
Strong is the 29th head coach in Texas history, as he posted a dominating 23-3 record in his last two seasons at Louisville - tied for the fourth-most wins in the country over that span - trailing only the Florida State Seminoles, Ohio State Buckeyes and Alabama Crimson Tide.

He has kicked at least six players off the team since his arrival in Austin, but the most recent dismissals of last week have had little effect on the betting odds, as the Longhorns have held steady as 26.5-point home favorites at BetOnline since being released at that number on July 10.

Senior safety Josh Turner is the only projected starter that the team must replace at this time, as he’s played in 37 career games, while starting three during the 2013 campaign.

There’s no doubt that some younger players will need to step up as the season goes along, as their depth will be tested on the offensive end - losing a pair of running backs (Joe Bergeron and Jalen Overstreet) and wide receivers (Montrel Meander and Kendall Sanders).

 

Controlling the football
The Mean Green bring back four starters from a group that only allowed 11 sacks in 2013, which has become an area of great importance under fourth-year head coach Dan McCarney.

North Texas’ offensive line will be anchored by right guard Cyril Lemon, who is the only player in the country to start every game since his freshman year and be named all-conference over that span.

It’s very important for the offense to protect the football in this matchup, considering its opponent has won 14 consecutive home openers by an average of 39 points.

 

Naming a man under center
The Longhorns have stated that senior David Ash will be under center for the opener after being cleared medically, which is important to consider when looking at the Week 1 college football betting odds, as he’s completed 65.7 percent of his passes for 3,601 yards and 27 touchdowns in his last 15 games played.

Texas will need him to be dynamic, as the offense will be replacing three starters on the offensive line, which could limit opportunities for leading running back Malcolm Brown in the early going.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers play the total as one of their Week 1 college football picks, as both teams will be motivated to play in this affair, especially with Texas needing to get off to a good start with BYU and UCLA on deck.

Expect the defense to be ahead of the offense in the early going in Austin, while North Texas will struggle to move the ball consistently due to having a new starter under center.
College Football Pick:  Under 51 at BetOnline

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