Gutsy Pick For Rare NCAAF Season Opener Between Bears vs Rainbow Warriors

Cal Bears

Joe Gavazzi

Friday, August 26, 2016 8:57 PM GMT

Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 8:57 PM GMT

The CFB season kicks off in Sydney, Australia with a rare game between the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii and the Golden Bears of California. Our expert capper provides his free NCAAF pick.  

California (-19-) vs. Hawaii 10:00 ET ESPN 
It’s a whole new ball game on the Islands this year! Gone is the 4-year experiment that was Norm Chow.  Under previous coaches, Greg McMackin and especially his predecessor, June Jones, there were glory years with the “red-gun offense.”  But under Norm Chow, a long-time highly respected OC at BYU, the Rainbow Warriors’ offense entered a downward spiral.  They reached the nadir of their discontent when they scored just 18 PPG, while averaging 316 YPG last season. 

Opponents doubled their output against Hawaii, averaging 36 PPG against a 200 Club defense that allowed at least 209 both running and passing. The results were a record of 3-10 SU, 3-9 ATS, as Hawaii failed to win a Mountain West contest, covering just once (against New Mexico) in 8 tries. It brought to a close the 4-year Norm Chow era that saw Hawaii go 11-39 SU. Enter former Rainbow Warrior, Nick Rolovich. He played QB here for 2 years, was a grad assistant here, a former OC under McMackin and now returns to the Islands, after a 4-year stint as OC at Nevada, where his Wolfpack was a mediocre 25-26 SU. 

Figure Rolovich to serve as his own OC against a Mountain West Conference he knows well!  It will be no small task to return his Warriors to respectability.  After all, they were badly outplayed last year. With 9 returning starters, including QB Woolsey, there is little doubt that offensive guru Rolovich will eventually turn around Hawaii’s offensive fortunes. To do it on August 26th in a game in Australia is clearly asking a lot!  The defense returns 6, but loses 4 of their top 6 tacklers. Against the passing game of California, the young secondary of the Rainbows may be easily outclassed.   

 

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The Cal Bears have been upwardly mobile, as they enter their 4th year under HC Dykes.  Dykes took over a Bears team that was 3-9 SU, 3-8 ATS in 2012.  After a 1-11 SU, 2-9 ATS campaign in 2013, in which the Bears were outscored by an average of 46-23, Dykes lifted Cal’s record to 8-5 SU LY, outscoring the opposition 38-31, while putting up 529 total yards. If that offensive excellence is to continue, it will have to be without graduated QB Goff and their top 6 receivers. It will be up to new OC Spavital (last 3Y as OC at A&M) and veteran, senior QB Webb to keep the offense rolling behind an experienced group of runners and a veteran OL. They have a good chance of doing so against the young secondary of the Rainbow Warriors. 

The greater question is whether a Cal defense, who returns just 5 and lost its top 6 tacklers, will be able to continue their defensive improvement under 3rd year DC Kaufman.  As far as PAC 12 play goes, this may well look to be a rebuilding year for the Cal Bears.  But a HIGH SCORING, confidence building opening day win, followed by a week off next Saturday, could do wonders for the young Bears’ confidence.  Flying footballs fill the air, as Cal records a 3 TD victory!  I invite you to put the College Football ODDS in your favor and join me in my College Football PICK on the OVER 64 points*.

*editor's note: line has shifted since time of writing currently sitting at 66.5 on average books

 

Free NCAAF Picks: Over 66.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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