NCAAF Picks: Week 1 Preview, Mississippi vs. Boise State

Jeff Grant

Friday, July 11, 2014 5:55 PM GMT

The Mississippi Rebels have everything in place for a banner year under Hugh Freeze, which will start with a season-opening win over the Boise State Broncos.

Off and running
Mississippi will try to win its seventh consecutive season opener when playing away from home, as its fan base prepares to make the trip from Oxford to Atlanta for a non-conference affair at the Georgia Dome.

The Rebels will welcome back 15 total starters when things kick off on Thursday, Aug. 28 at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN, with many college football experts placing high expectations on the program in its third year under head coach Hugh Freeze.

Senior quarterback Bo Wallace hopes to be more consistent with his play after going through spring drills healthy for the first time since 2012, but he does rank second in school history with 7,085 yards of total offense.

A seamless transition?
Boise State needs to be respected when looking over the NCAA football betting odds in Week 1, as many sports handicappers will simply write off the team due to longtime head coach Chris Petersen taking off for Washington, but his replacement is familiar with the situation at hand.

Bryan Harsin was a member of the school’s coaching staff from 2010-11, while also serving as co-offensive coordinator at Texas (2011-12) and head coach at Arkansas State (2013).

He was a graduate of Capital High School in town and graduated from Boise in 1999.

It’s important to point out that no major college football program has a higher win percentage (155-26 record, .856) since 2000 than the Broncos, making them an interesting sports betting pick.

Imposing stop unit
The Rebels are worthy betting favorites in this matchup due to their top five tacklers returning on defense, while defensive linemen Robert Nkemdiche is likely to improve on his pedestrian numbers of a year ago—playing as a true freshman after landing on campus as the country’s top recruit.

Mississippi welcomes back eight of its top 10 players in the secondary, with Third-Team All-American Cody Prewitt being the main player to watch, as he led the squad with six interceptions and finished second with 71 tackles in 2013.

Nothing new
The Broncos won’t find the surroundings intimidating in SEC country, considering this will be their sixth straight season of opening up things in a high-profile manner, which includes a 38-6 loss to the Washington Huskies as three-point road underdogs last year.

Boise State is a much more experienced team in welcoming back 15 total starters rather than nine a year ago, with all eyes focused on running back Jay Ajayi, who ran for 1,425 yards and 18 touchdowns in his sophomore campaign.

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Rebels as one of their Week 1 College Football betting picks, as they’ve covered the number in 19 of their last 26 non-conference affairs.
Pick:  Mississippi Rebels -9.5

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