Get Ready Sydney - California A Three TD Favorites vs. Hawaii In NCAAF Opener

Matthew Jordan

Monday, August 22, 2016 3:58 PM UTC

Monday, Aug. 22, 2016 3:58 PM UTC

It seems like yesterday when Alabama beat Clemson for the National Title. But the 2016 NCAA season is almost here with California and Hawaii kicking it off Aug. 26 in Australia. Below you will find an analysis of the college football odds on which team will win and the break down for the best bet.

Hawaii Warriors vs California Bears  
While this game kicks off at 10 p.m. ET on Aug. 26, shown on ESPN, that's noon Saturday, Aug. 27, in Sydney. It's the first college football game ever played in Sydney and the first in Australia since 1987 in Melbourne. It will be held at ANZ Stadium, which holds around 83,000 fans and was constructed for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. I feel pretty confident in saying there won't be a sellout. It is being called the College Football Sydney Cup

Both schools were originally scheduled to open the new season on Sept. 3, which is when the majority of schools will begin. The Bears were to host FCS school South Dakota and Hawaii was to travel to the Big House and face Michigan. Cal simply canceled that game against USD and gave that school a buyout. The Bears didn't want to play again a week after the long travel. Hawaii, however, can use all the money it can get because of its massive travel budget each year and UH will still play the Wolverines. That's an insane amount of traveling, and you can bet that Hawaii will be a mega-underdog against the Wolverines.

Cal and Hawaii have split four all-time meetings and haven't  played since 1994.


Need To Know About Hawaii
Remember those glory days for the UH football program under June Jones? The Warriors were 12-0 in the 2007 regular season behind star quarterback Colt Brennan and reached as high as No. 10 in the AP poll. But with a weak schedule, UH was never going to get a chance to play for the National Title. They ended up being spanked by No. 4 Georgia 41-10 in the Sugar Bowl.

Jones left after that season for SMU and things have largely gone downhill since for the Rainbow Warriors, who are now in the Mountain West Conference. The school has finished with one winning season since and slid to 3-10 last year. Head coach Norm Chow was fired last year with a 2-7 mark, one day after the team was embarrassed 58-7 at home to Air Force. Chow was 10-36 overall and 4-25 in the Mountain West in four seasons at Hawaii. Chris Naeole finished the season as the interim coach.

This offseason, former Hawaii quarterback Nick Rolovich was named the new head coach. Rolovich played for the Warriors in 2000 and 2001, graduated from there in 2004 and served as an assistant coach from 2008-11. Since then he had been an offensive coordinator at Nevada.

Hawaii is among the national leaders with 17 starters returning. The big question is at quarterback. Ikaika Woolsey, Aaron Zwahlen, and Dru Brown are all battling for the job. Woolsey played last season as largely a backup and was 73-for-149 for 908 yards, five touchdowns, and six interceptions. He also rushed for 84 yards and two scores and is the only QB on the roster with FBS experience. Zwahlen was a touted recruit out of high school in 2013 but was away from football while on a church mission until last year. Brown is a JuCo transfer from College of San Mateo in California. As a freshman there, Brown had 1,900 yards with 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions, with six more touchdowns and 188 yards rushing.

The focal point of the offense will surely be running back Paul Harris, who carried 197 times for 1,132 yards and six TDs last year as a junior. But the vast majority of top receivers also return as do four offensive linemen.

Hawaii was 3-10 ATS on the college football odds in 2015 and 7-6 O/U.


Need To Know About Cal
The Bears, of the Pac-12, were able to keep head coach Sonny Dykes this offseason. He reportedly was unhappy at Cal and interviewed for the Missouri job. But then not long after that, Cal gave him a nice new extension through 2019. Dykes is  gifted offensive mind and Cal runs his version of the "Air Raid," a pass-heavy offense called the "Bear Raid."

Dykes inherited a mess in 2013 from Jeff Tedford and Cal was 1-11 that year. But the Bears improved to 5-7 in 2014 and then 8-5 last year. Cal was ranked as  high as No. 20 in the nation at one point in 2015. The Bears finished the season with a 55-36 win over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. It was Cal's first bowl win since 2008.

Jared Goff was one of the best quarterbacks in Cal history and set numerous school records but declared for the NFL Draft and was taken No. 1 overall by the Los Angeles Rams so you'd have to say he made the right choice. Replacing Goff as the starter will be Texas Tech transfer Davis Webb, who originally had said he was transferring to Colorado but changed his mind.

Webb joined Cal in May after graduating from Texas Tech. He played in 23 games with 14 starts over his three campaigns at TTU and threw for career totals of 5,557 yards and 46 touchdowns. He was a freshman All-American in 2013 and MVP of the Holiday Bowl that year. He began 2014 as the starter but got injured and eventually lost his job to Patrick Mahomes. So Webb barely played in 2015. 

Overall, Cal brings back 10 starters, six on defense. That unit was a weakness last year, allowing 30.3 points per game, 88th nationally. The offense also lost its top three receivers in Bryce Treggs, Trevor Davis, and Kenny Lawler.

Cal was 6-7 ATS on the NCAAF picks in 2015 and 5-8 O/U.


Final Analysis
Hawaii and the 'over.' Cal will win the game, but UH has enough experience to cover. I am hoping the spread gets to 21.5 by kickoff as that's where it opened. But Hawaii is taking a slight lean right now.  Cal is 1-4 ATS in its past five neutral-site games. Hawaii has covered six of its past seven vs. the Pac-12. The 'over' is 8-2 in Cal's past 10 neutral-site games and 5-0 in Hawaii's past five overall.


Free NCAAF Pick: Hawaii +20 -105 & Over 63 -105
Best Line Offered: Hawaii +20 -105 at 5Dimes & Over 63 -105 at Heritage

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