It’s understandable if bettors are hesitant to back the Washington State Cougars right out of the gate following last season’s debacle in the New Mexico Bowl. With the Rutgers Scarlet Knights coming to town, the Cougars can finally put last season’s mess behind them and focus on the present. The Scarlet Knights, meanwhile, are hoping that they don’t allow 52 points like they did in last season’s opener at Fresno State. This game will be played at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, the home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Washington State Cougars College Football Preview
Date/Time: August 28, 10:00 pm EST
TV: Fox Sports 1
College Football Betting Odds from WagerWeb
College Football Betting Favorite: Washington State -8
The Cougars went 9-4 against the spread last season and were 4-0 as a favorite, 3-0 at home. They were also 3-1 ATS against non-conference opponents. Amazingly, Rutgers was favored in nine of their 13 games last season. As an underdog, they were 2-1 against the number.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights:
The Big Ten meets the Pac-12 as conference newcomer Rutgers takes the field for the first time as a member of the Big Ten Conference. Their first Big Ten game will be on September 13 against Penn State, but Kyle Flood will make sure that his team is ready for Washington State. The Scarlet Knights had major problems defending the pass last season and that’s a recipe for disaster against a team coached by Mike Leach. Rutgers allowed 312 passing yards per game last season and only forced eight interceptions. Speaking of interceptions, Gary Nova won the starting quarterback job and it is imperative that he improves on last season’s 18/14 TD/INT ratio. One way the Scarlet Knights offense can help the beleaguered pass defense is to control the clock and that’s what they will attempt to do with Paul James, Justin Goodwin, and Savon Huggins behind an experienced offensive line.
Washington State Cougars:
Mike Leach took the Cougars to their first bowl game since 2013 and it wound up being a game that Washington State backers and the team have spent all spring and summer trying to forget. The best way the Cougars can forget last season’s New Mexico Bowl is to put a beating on Rutgers. That will be up to quarterback Connor Halliday, who threw the ball 714 times last season with a completion percentage near 63 percent and 34 touchdown tosses. Halliday also threw 22 interceptions. Ten of the top 11 pass catchers from last season return and that’s good news for an offense that averaged 31 points per game. The defense is a different story because the best player, Deone Bucannon, was a first-round pick and second-leading tackler Justin Sagote graduated. Facing a collection of very talented offenses, the Cougars allowed 4.5 yards per carry, 271 passing yards per game, and over 32 points per game.
Free Pick: Rutgers Scarlet Knights +8
Each team has major concerns entering this game, as Rutgers struggles against the pass and Washington State struggles against pretty much everything. Rutgers can run and can’t really pass, while Washington State can pass and can’t run. The last four road opening losses for Rutgers have been by a combined total of eight points, including last season’s one-point overtime loss to Fresno State.
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