College Football Betting Picks: Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs Washington State Cougars
Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs Washington State Cougars
CenturyLink Field – Seattle, Washington
Thursday, August 28, 2014, 10:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox Sports 1
Opening Line: Washington State -8
Current Line: Washington State -8
Opening Total: 60
Current Total: 62
Opening Money Line: Washington State -335 / Rutgers +275
Current Money Line: Washington State -330 / Rutgers +270
After many years in the Big East/AAC the Rutgers Scarlet Knights move to the Big Ten in 2014. Rutgers opens the season against the Washington State Cougars in Seattle Thursday night. Officially, it is a neutral site game. However, the Cougars play at least one “home” game in Seattle each season.
It is the second straight year that Rutgers will open the season on the west coast after losing to Fresno State last season. Rutgers and Washington State have never played in football before this game. The two teams will finish the home and home in New Jersey in 2015.
Kyle Flood returns for his third season as Rutgers coach. Rutgers went 6-7 last season and lost to Notre Dame 29-16 in the Pinstripe Bowl. Sixteen starters are back for Rutgers in 2014 including 9 on offense. Rutgers averaged 236 passing yards and 130 rushing yards per game last season on offense. Rutgers allowed 312 passing yards and 101 rushing yards per game. The Scarlet Knights were outscored 30-27 last season.
Mike Leach is also in his third year as Washington State coach. Like Rutgers, Washington State was 6-7 in 2013 and lost to Colorado State 48-45 in the New Mexico Bowl. Fourteen starters are back including eight on offense. The Cougars were #4 nationally in passing at 368 yards per game but dead last in rushing at 53 yards per game. Washington State allowed 271 passing and 187 rushing yards per game on defense. WSU was outscored 33-31 last season.
Minnesota transfer Philip Nelson was in line to start at quarterback for Rutgers before being kicked off the team after being arrested for felony assault in June. Last year’s starter Gary Nova will start again after beating out redhsirt freshman Chris Laviano. Nova threw for 2,159 yards with 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Nova could be on a short leash this season if he struggles.
Running back Paul Burton returns after he had 156 carries for 881 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 11 catches for 107 yards. Justin Goodwin also returns and he had 111 carries for 521 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 10 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Savon Huggins is also back. He had 86 carries for 286 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 66 yards. Fullback Michael Burton is more of a blocker, but he did have 19 catches for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Tight end Tyler Kroft had 43 catches for 573 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. Leonte Carroo looks to be the go-to receiver after making 28 catches for 478 yards and 9 touchdowns before being sidelined with a leg injury last season. Ruhann Peele is also back and made 28 catches for 281 yards and a touchdown.
All five starters return on the offensive line led by left guard Kaleb Johnson who considered leaving early for the NFL.
Rutgers struggled on defense last season especially against the pass. The secondary had to use 7 different players at cornerback because of injuries. The Scarlet Knights hope getting young players so much experience last year will help season them this year.
Quarterback Connor Halliday will once again run the offense for Washington State. He threw for 4,597 yards with 34 touchdowns and 22 interceptions last year. The offensive line only returns two starters and could struggle to protect Halliday.
The running game is an afterthought at best in Leach’s “Air Raid” offense. Marcus Mason is back after rushing for 429 yards and scoring 2 touchdowns. he also had 52 catches for 390 yards and 2 touchdowns. Theron West will also get some carries.
Receiver Gabe Marks is questionable with a head injury. He had 74 catches for 807 yards and 7 touchdowns last season. River Cracraft (46 catches for 614 yards and 3 touchdowns) and Ricky Galvin (39 catches for 311 yards and 4 catches) are also back. Receiver Drew Loftus is also questionable for personal reasons.
With the lightning quick pace of the offense, the defense had to stay on the field for long periods of time. They grew tired and it showed as the Cougars gave up 458 yards per game on defense. WSU played in a lot of shootouts and I don’t expect that to change much this season.
Rutgers is 2-5 ATS in non-conference games and overall.
Washington State is 3-1-1 ATS in non-conference games, 8-3 on fieldturf, 10-4 overall, and 1-4 in August.
This should be a high scoring game, with two defenses that struggled last year. I don’t know if Rutgers can keep up on the scoreboard with Washington State. I like the Cougars to win and cover and the game should go over 62 points with relative ease.
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