Nevada at NorthwesternSaturday, 12:30 pm PTCRIS Opener:
Northwestern -23 O/U 52.5CRIS Current:
Northwestern -24 O/U 60.5Recommendation:
Nevada has been in steady decline since the departure of of longtime head coach Chris Ault. Brian Polian managed to take the Wolf Pack to two bowl games but make no mistake, he wasn't going to take the program to Ault-like levels. And it'll be a tall task for first-year head coach Jay Norvell as well. Norvell inherits a squad that was far worse than its 5-7/3-5 record a season ago. Playing in the far weaker MWC West Division, the Wolf Pack were outgained by 1.4 ypp in league play. As for this year's squad, there are 43 new players that must digest completely new systems on both sides of the ball. One such "system" will be the famed/doomed "Air Raid" offense. Offensive coordinator Matt Mumme, son of Hal, says he wants to run 85-90 plays per game. That's a dangerous recipe for a squad that still doesn't have a clear cut starter at quarterback, lost it's top running back, and projects to have one of the weakest defenses in the country. And they'll take their act on the road for a Week 1 game against what projects to be a Big Ten West contender in Northwestern.
The Wildcats return virtually every player from last year's 7-6 squad. Report indicate this could be Pat Fitzgerald's most talented team. The issue some bettors may have is that Northwestern doesn't have much of any pedigree laying and winning by this type of margin. In 2016, their highest price tag was -16.5 and they managed to win only one game (at Purdue) by more than 24 points. Similar situation the year before that; -17.5 and one win (27-0 vs. Minnesota) by margin vs. FBS competition. But my attention is focused far more on Nevada's likely struggles than Northwestern's pedigree as a favorite. Note that last season, in three games against Notre Dame, Purdue, and San Diego State, the Wolf Pack were outgained by over 600 yards
and that was in the fourth year of coaching staff with systems in place. Now with a "new everything" it very reasonable to think that type of statistical discrepancy will continue
and even worsen
against better competition. We're laying the points with the home side in this matchup.