The day many of us have been waiting for is here. College football. It’s not too shabby of a day one either. There are games spread out through the night, starting with Texas A@M and South Carolina.

Under today’s picks you can purchase two of Thursday’s premium plays in college football. It’s going to be a long season from late August all the way until January’s concluding bowl games.

Rutgers vs Washington State
The spread here sits at -8. Washington State played in one of the more thrilling bowl games last year in a 48-45 loss to Colorado State. Hopes are high as Mike Leach returns his typical offense with senior quarterback Connor Halladay. The problem with Washington State’s style of play is if they have the all around talent to maintain it. Last year in six of their regular season losses only one of losses was by a touchdown or less.

They made it to a bowl game thanks to a few cupcake opponents in Idaho and Southern Utah, and a surprise win over USC. The season did have key highlights. One was against Auburn in week one. Many talk about Auburn’s great run a year ago, but it was almost halted right off the bat in a 31-24 win over Washington State. There other solid outing was a tale of two halves against Oregon. In the first half they held a sizeable lead and frustrated Marcus Mariota.

Expect a similar mold from Washington State this season as they’re still a two to three year span away from moving past their current levels.

That should leave the door open for a cover for a team like Rutgers. Rutgers is the type of team that drives opponents crazy. Whether it be in the Big East, AAC, and now the Big Ten.

It’s often forgotten the type of recruiting power the state of New Jersey holds in getting top recruits from New York City, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. Even when their overall record has been below .500, Rutgers has produced NFL draft picks.

There is something to be said for a team that has a fourth year starter at quarterback. Rutgers has that with Gary Nova. Maybe it was by default for some of those seasons, but nonetheless Nova is as experienced a quarterback there is in the country. Last year Nova got the message he probably should have received during his sophomore season. In late November he was benched in favor of Chas Dodd. This was after a stretch of five touchdowns and nine interceptions over a five game span from Nova.

It was a message sent loud and clear to Nova as he didn’t hit the field again in 2013, even in Rutgers bowl game loss to Notre Dame.

It was needed and it’ll be interesting to see how Nova responds going into his senior campaign.

Paul James at running back combined with Nova’s leadership improvement could give Washington State fits. For a team that only threw 21 touchdown passes last season, they sure got their moneys worth from wide receiver Leonte Carroo. Out of his 28 catches nine were touchdowns.

Washington State boasts a solid nucleus of returned veterans defensively but they still need to show they’re an improved bunch.

Neither team is going to be a stalwart defensively especially in game one Thursday. It’ll take gradual improvement week to week for either team to get there.

It’ll be up to the senior quarterbacks to showcase their true leadership and skill set. I don’t expect either to back down but with an eight point spread, I’m going to lean towards Rutgers here. A year ago out the gate, Gary Nova faced a similar opponent in Fresno State as a ten point underdog. The team nearly pulled off an upset on the road in a 52-51 loss. It proved to be one of his best games of the season.

Now the team ventures a bit further north for game one in Washington. Take the Rutger Scarlett Knights here plus the points.


You must be logged in to post a comment.