UNLV +24 vs. Arizona for College Football Pick

Jeff Grant

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 3:37 PM GMT

The Arizona Wildcats are going to have a hard time dominating the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels for a second consecutive year, as they begin life without one of their best players in program history.


 

Start of a turnaround?
With 51 lettermen and the entire staff returning from a bowl appearance, UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck likes his chances of the program posting back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1983-84.

The Runnin’ Rebels have 15 returning starters, but they’ll need to replace their No. 1 quarterback and running back from a season ago, which is one of the main reasons for an inflated number on the college football odds page for Week 1.

College football handicappers will find that the program has covered eight of its last 11 overall games.

 

Dominant performance
Arizona is going to be one of the more popular college football predictions in the opening week, as they’ve won their last 13 home openers by an average of 26 points, which is important to consider when this matchup kicks off at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN in Tucson.

The Wildcats also registered an impressive 58-13 win over the Runnin’ Rebels as 14-point road favorites last season—rushing for 397 yards on 69 carries.

During the first two years of the Rich Rodriguez era at Arizona Stadium, the team has gone 5-6 against the spread as favorites.

 

Life on the road
The Runnin’ Rebels are a miserable 1-13 SU in their last 14 road openers—losing their last six by an average of 23 points in that situation.

UNLV has an opportunity to stay competitive in this affair if it can get the ball to senior wide receiver Devante Davis, who caught a school-record 14 touchdown passes a season ago, but those numbers were made possible by playing with graduating senior Caleb Herring.

Former freshman phenom Nick Sherry is expected to earn the starting job under center, as he looks to duplicate Herring’s successful path of working his way back onto the field.

 

Starting from scratch
Replacing Ka’Deem Carey is going to take a group effort, as he earned Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2013, while also finishing as the school’s career rushing leader.

Arizona returns just 134 rushing yards on its roster—a number that has likely kept Rodriguez up at night.

The offense will likely do just enough at the position and under center to lead the squad to a 4-0 start, but the season could take a downward turn on the road against the Oregon Ducks on Oct. 2.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Runnin’ Rebels as one of their Week 1 college football picks, as they’ve gone 4-0-1 ATS in their last five Friday affairs.

Pick:  UNLV Runnin’ Rebels +24

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