Back to the drawing board.
Last week’s Group of Five Underdog of the Week never had a chance once Navy’s first pass attempt led to two receivers nearly colliding and a turnover on downs during its first possession of the year.
It was one of the most promising drives the Midshipmen had, but another didn’t come until much later in the game — 22% of Navy’s total yards came in that opening drive.
We’ll need this week’s pick to put up more than three points. Here’s the Week 1 Underdog of the Week featuring college football betting odds via BetMGM:
Place College Football Wagers at BetMGM!
North Texas (spread +6.5, moneyline +220) vs. Cal
The Mean Green have an excellent opportunity here to make a statement in Eric Morris’ first season at the helm while hosting a Power 5 opponent. UNT has covered the spread in their last three season openers and can make it four in a row against a Golden Bears team that has a lot of off-the-field noise going on regarding their future.
For the Mean Green, I expect they want to prove early that they belong in the AAC. Morris is also a little familiar with the Bears, having beaten them 28-9 last season as Washington State’s OC.
Much of the talk surrounding this game and football in Texas in general has been about the raging heat that the game will be played in. It’s predicted to be 100+ degrees. This bodes well for UNT, whose sideline will be shaded during the game, as opposed to Cal’s.
One thing I like about the Mean Green’s chances is their running back depth. Three backs return this year who rushed for 580 or more yards last season, meaning that they can rotate fresh bodies in and avoid getting exhausted so quickly. This is especially crucial against Cal’s solid defensive line and linebacker group.
Home-field advantage and Bears QB Sam Jackson V making his first start in unideal conditions make me lean toward the Mean Green.
The last time Cal visited a G5 team was in 2016 at San Diego State where it lost 45-40. The Golden Bears are 2-6 ATS as away favorites in Justin Wilcox’s seven seasons.
Northern Illinois (+8.5, +260) at Boston College
Both of these teams should trend upward this season after both going 3-9 last year.
NIU’s offense will be returning its two best players in Rocky Lombardi and Trayvon Rudolph and could give BC’s defense fits, even though the Eagles’ defense will be better than it was last season.
On the other side of the ball, BC QB Emmett Morehead will move the field against the NIU defense, but I still trust Lombardi and Co. to keep this game within reach.
In their last 15 games as road dogs, the Huskies are 12-3.
Toledo (+9.5, +260) at Illinois
The Rockets received one more vote (4) than Illinois (3) in the most recent AP Top 25 poll, so should the Illini be two-possession favorites?
I don’t think so.
Even with the home-field advantage and the 10 all-conference players returning, Illinois is losing its starting QB and RB from last year and, it runs into a Toledo defense that is solid in all three phases.
I don’t like the fact that Illinois has covered in its last four home openers, but I like Dequan Finn and the Rockets’ offense to end that trend. If Toledo pulls the upset, there’s a solid chance they can win 11 or even 12 games.
Hawaii (+3.5, +140) vs. Stanford
The Rainbow Warriors surprised last week and have to be feeling good about themselves against another Power Five opponent this week. It’s a long trip for the Cardinal and vacation mode could play a factor on Friday night.
Stanford also isn’t very good, returns hardly any starters, and it’s hard to imagine there’s much excitement surrounding this program this year.
There are plenty of reasons this line moved a whole touchdown toward the Warriors, but most importantly, they seem like they’re a rejuvenated squad.