The California Golden Bears and Northwestern Wildcats will both look to get their 2014 seasons off to a winning start when they square off in a Week 1 season opener that could turn out to be a flat-out thriller, even if this contest isn’t getting the same national publicity as some other Week 1 openers.
NCAAF Expert Betting Pick – California at Northwestern
California (1-11 SU, 2-10 ATS) returns 14 starters with eight on offense, including quarterback Jared Goff. Unfortunately, this team has a long way to go just to get to being a respectable program after losing 10 straight games to close out the 2013 season. Making matters worse is the fact that the Bears gave up at least 50 points four times last season and at least 60 points in two of those contests. Goff however, was very solid while breaking school single-season records in passing yards (3,508), completions (320) and attempts (531).
Despite winning five games last season, Northwestern (5-7 SU, 3-9 ATS) wasn’t much better than Cal as they lost seven straight games before beating Illinois 37- 34 in its regular season finale. The good news for the Wildcats is that they return a whopping 17 starters this season with nine playing defense.
Unfortunately, the Wildcats did lose expected starting running back Venric Mark after he transferred to Division II West Texas A&M late in training camp while wide receiver Christian Jones and defensive tackle Sean McEvilly both suffered season-ending injuries.
For this matchup, I like the Northwestern Wildcats to hold down the fort at home and get the narrow ATS win in the process.
California has gone an identical 1-6 ATS in their last 7 road games and in their last 7 non-conference games while Northwestern has compiled a perfect 4-0 ATS mark in their last four games in the month of August while also going 7-2 ATS in their last nine games against non-conference opponents.