August 28 NCAA College Football Picks, Predictions, Odds
The opening weekend of the college football season is really what would be referred to as a soft opening, but there is one Big Ten conference matchup, as well as a handful of other compelling games before the season gets underway in earnest next week.
UConn (0-0 in 2020) @ Fresno State (3 – 3) (-27.5 spread) (o/u 63.0)
Mountain West member Fresno State was able to get in an abbreviated schedule in 2020 and brings back 18 starters, but now independent UConn ended up canceling the entire season after a 2 – 10 campaign in 2019 when they also went 0 – 8 in the American Athletic Conference.
Prediction: Fresno State 45 UConn 17
Hawaii (5-4) @ UCLA (3-4) (-17.5) (68.5)
These teams were scheduled to play last year, but the game was one of the casualties of the Covid impacted 2020 season. Even though Hawaii has ten defensive starters back, their weakness was against the run last year, and UCLA averaged 230 yards a game on the ground last season.
Prediction: UCLA 41 Hawaii 30
UTEP (3-5) (-10.0) @ New Mexico State (0-0) (o/u 59.0)
Independent New Mexico State is another team that sat out the 2020 season, which might have been for the best after a dismal 2 – 10 record in 2019 when they gave up over 40 points in seven games. Conference USA member UTEP lost their last four games that ended up getting played over a two-month period, making it difficult for the Miners to sustain much momentum.
Prediction: UTEP 34 New Mexico State 21
Southern Utah (1-4) @ San Jose State (7-1) (-24.0) (56.5)
FCS Southern Utah played a spring schedule, and although the record looks bad, those losses were all by a total of 14 points. They’ll be overmatched by a team that went undefeated in the regular season in 2020 to win the Mountain West conference and returns 20 starters, including their entire defensive unit that was a very respectable 26th in the nation in total yardage allowed and 15th in scoring.
Prediction: San Jose State 48 Southern Utah 17
Nebraska (3-5, 3-5 in the Big Ten) (-7.0) @ Illinois (2-6, 2-6) (o/u 55.0)
Neither of these teams figures to challenge for the Big Ten West title, but at least Nebraska has a chance to be better than they were in 2020. Head coach and alumnus Scott Frost is now in his fourth year, and the seat is getting very hot in Lincoln after he has gone 12 – 20 in his first three campaigns.
The Cornhuskers were 101st in scoring in 2020 and return only three starters from the unit, which might be a good thing, but the defense was respectable at 50th in the nation, and nine starters are back. Frost couldn’t have hoped for a better Big Ten opener, although Illinois brings back a lot of starters from a team that was 111th in scoring offense and 114th in total defense.
Last year, Illinois prevailed at Nebraska 41 – 23, but the Huskers played better the rest of 2020 and should be able to see a different result in 2021 if the offensive line can come together the way Frost anticipates.
Prediction: Nebraska 30 Illinois 20
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