Week One College Football Preview: Northwestern vs. California

venric mark-northwestern-2013(22) Northwestern-Cal
Time: 10:30 PM ET, Aug 31 2013
Spread: NW -6
M/L: NW -250, CAL +210
O/U: 60

Odds courtesy of 5dimes

Northwestern had a huge season last year, contending for the national title and finishing 10-3. The team beat Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl 34-20. The Wildcats relied on a tandem at QB which complemented one another far more than competed. Senior Kain Coltor rushed (894 rushing yards, 12 TDs) and junior Trevor Siemian threw the ball (34 catches for 321 yards).

The dual threat that the Wildcats propose presented problems for a number of teams, but the Wildcats do only return two starters on the line. The defense was improved last season, too, allowing 22.5 points per game, which was nearly a five point improvement from 2011.

Junior end Tyler Scott had a great season with 12.5 tackles for al oss and the team has a number of other up and comers in Sean McEvilly, Chance Carter, and Will Hampton. The biggest improvement to be made is on better play in the secondary, because the pass defense was very vulnerable in 2012. This team still should be top-10 all season long. Starting the season with Cal will be a challenge, though.

Sonny Dykes is bringing a strange new look to Cal’s offense: a no huddle offense. He implemented it at Louisiana Tech and his team led the country in scoring and total offense, so it isn’t really a laughing matter to try something so different than what Jeff Tedford did at Cal. He’s also importing the 4-3 defense he used at La Tech, and Dykes has fans riding high on the team as he’s opened up practices to the public. There is renewed enthusiasm, and the team is markedly improved as indicated by college football oddsmakers setting the close so line against a tough Northwestern team.

Dykes’ style should pay off in the long run in making the program more attractive to fans and recruits, and he should be able to air it out well against the Northwestern secondary, as noted. Jared Goff will start at QB, and Hunter Hewitt of the SFGate noted that Goff has a “cool, calm” demeanor, something that will serve him well given the number of impromptu play calls and adjustments he will have to make this season.

Goff is a true freshman and commented that Dykes offense is “effective, not complicated at all.” That aptitude speaks well of his potential, as he should be able to learn on the go this season as he endures the rigors of being a full-time NCAA QB. He won the job over a redshirt freshman Zach Kline and Dykes said he liked Goff’s consistency and his accuracy, in addition saying he does not allow a lot of really bad mistakes.

The biggest problem in Cal will be a very tough schedule. The team faces Ohio State and Oregon after facing a pushover (Portland State) next week. A loss today could easily spell the beginning of a 1-3 start for Dykes’ crew. 57 percent of voters at Covers have chosen Northwestern to win this matchup SU.


5-0 ATS in last 5 on turf. 5-0 ATS in last 5 non-conf. UNDER 4-0 last 4 August games


4-0 ATS in last 4 vs Big 10. 0-5 ATS in last 5 overall. 4-0 ATS in last 4 August games

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