College Football Picks: Rutgers vs. Washington State

David Lawrence

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 2:37 PM GMT

The college football season begins in full on Thursday, August 28. One team from the “gang of five” conferences, Rutgers, will face a team from the power five conferences, Washington State. In week one of the season, a lot of teams schedule cupcakes, but this is not a cupcake game for either side, making it one of the more interesting games to be found on the Thursday schedule.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights @ Washington State Cougars
Thursday, August 28th – 10:00 PM ET
NCAA Football Odds: Washington State -8

 

The Scarlet Knights can win because…
They have shown that they can compete on the road in an early-season game. Rutgers was not supposed to be very competitive with Fresno State in a season-opening road night game on the West Coast last season, but the Scarlet Knights played the Bulldogs on level terms before losing by a narrow margin in a game that went right down to the wire. Rutgers experienced a tough season in 2013, but the Scarlet Knights are going to start fresh and will not be the wounded, shaken team that stumbled down the stretch a year ago. The other point to keep in mind here is that Washington State has hardly established a reputation as one of the better teams in the Pac-12. The Cougars did make a bowl game last year, but they found a way to lose a game they had controlled most of the way against Colorado State. There’s hardly a guarantee that the Cougars, despite being eight-point favorites on NCAAF odds, are going to cruise through this game and post an easy victory. Washington State just hasn’t earned that level of respect, or the benefit of the doubt.

 

The Cougars can win because…
They're into yet another season under head coach Mike Leach, the reason why the program has a reasonable expectation of being able to improve instead of regressing. The Cougars were not a bowl-level program a few seasons ago when Leach arrived. A win on the road at Arizona last season was a sign that the Cougars could compete on a better level in the Pac-12 Conference. They’re learning not only Leach’s offense, but they’re showing more toughness on defense and are breathing in the confidence that Leach has helped instill into all the players under his watch. This is not a team that’s going to compete for the Pac-12 North Division championship, but it’s also not a team that’s going to miss out on a bowl game in what’s a fairly tough division. The Cougars are still probably a bowl team, and worth considering for your sports picks, and if they are as good as advertised, they’re probably going to be better than Rutgers. Washington State has more skill and speed on the perimeter. Leach’s passing-game concepts are likely to outflank Rutgers, whose offense might not be up to the task in this game. The Scarlet Knights plummeted late last season on offense. They will probably have to play above their level to win this game and prove to be a profitable college football pick.

 

Outlook & NCAA Basketball Betting Prediction
Does Rutgers have a chance to win this game? Yes. However, the Scarlet Knights face long odds in terms of winning outright. Washington State might not blow out Rutgers, but it should win. Rutgers, though, has a good chance of keeping the margin to a touchdown.

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NCAA Football Picks: Rutgers +8 at 5Dimes