Bet Washington State to Cover Spread -8 Week 1 College Football

Jeff Grant

Monday, July 21, 2014 1:25 PM GMT

The Washington State Cougars haven’t had much success when playing at CenturyLink Field in the past, but they draw a favorable matchup against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in their season opener.


 

A New Era
The Rutgers’ coaching staff will be spending a lot of its time preparing for its first year in the Big Ten Conference, which is important to consider when making your college football predictions, but it does welcome back 16 overall starters.

The Scarlet Knights will have one of the best offensive lines in the country, with all five players returning that have combined to play 123 games—including 99 starts.

College football handicappers will find that the squad is 2-5 ATS in its last seven non-conference affairs, with the 'under' going on a 25-10 run in that situation.

 

Opening Up in Seattle
Washington State has dropped all six of its games at the home of the Seattle Seahawks since 2008, while it hasn’t picked up a win against a FBS opponent to start a season in nine years.

The Cougars are worthy neutral-site favorites on the College Football odds page, as they return 16 starters from a group that led the program to its first postseason appearance since 2003—resulting in a 48-45 loss to Colorado State in the 2013 New Mexico Bowl.

It’s important to point out that the team has covered the number in 10 of its last 14 games overall.

 

Close Encounters
The Scarlet Knights are going to be one of the more popular Week 1 college football picks, as they’ve won five of their last nine openers away from home, with the four losses coming by a total of just eight points.

Rutgers is expected to score more points this season with nine returning starters, including quarterback Gary Nova, but the defense shouldn’t be completely ignored due to being the only unit nationally to post a shut out in each of the last eight seasons.

 

Throw it Around the Field
Mike Leach’s final three years at Texas Tech saw the school average 423 passing yards per game, which means that Washington State senior quarterback Connor Halliday is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.

Halliday welcomes back 11 of his top 12 receiving options—a group that helped him throw for 4,597 yards and 34 touchdowns a season ago.

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Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Cougars as one of their college football predictions, as they played solid football out of the gate in 2013—nearly upsetting the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium before knocking off the USC Trojans in Southern California.

Washington State will take another step forward under Leach in his third year on campus, while Rutgers will be looking ahead to Big Ten play.

Free College Football Pick:  Washington State Cougars -8