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Ole Miss Rebels vs. California Golden Bears†Odds - Prediction

Ole Miss Rebels (2-0 SU, 0-2 ATS) vs. California Golden Bears (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date/Time: Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 10:30PM EST
Where: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, California
TV: ESPN
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: MISS -3.5/CAL +3.5
Over/Under Total: 72.5

The Ole Miss Rebels make the trip to NorCal on Saturday for a week 3 matchup against the Cal Golden Bears. Ole Miss has started the season 2-0, but has yet to cover the spread. On Saturday, they beat Tennessee-Martin, 45-23, which followed a week one win over South Alabama, 47-27. Cal enters week three at 2-0, following a big week one road win over North Carolina, followed by a 33-20 win over Weber State on Saturday. Who can remain undefeated this week?

After posting what amounts to two warm-up wins for Ole Miss, the season begins here in a lot of ways. Considering the quality of their opponent and the locale of the game, things ramp up in difficulty considerably starting here. It hasnít been an easy road getting here for the Rebels, facing a self-imposed bowl ban this season after the unceremonious dumping of coach and leader Hugh Freeze. A lot of Ole Missí hopes this season are tied up in sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson.

In Ole Missí Saturday win over Tenn-Martin, Patterson threw for 489 yards and 5 touchdowns. That followed a 429-yard performance in the first game where he threw for four touchdowns. Granted, that came against a pair of opponents who were underdogs by a combined 53 points. But we can see what the Ole Miss offense will be about this season. Patterson has a couple big-body sophomore receivers with which to work in AJ Brown and DK Metcalf. DaMarkus Lodge is also in the fold. They havenít run the ball a lot so far this season, but RB Jordan Wilkins can be productive and catches balls, as well. Up-front, they return a lot of beef, led by LT Greg Little.

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This season, the Rebelsí defense switched over to a 4-3 base. The defense hasnít looked great in giving up a combined 50 points to South Alabama and Tennessee-Martin. Both teams had success running the ball against the Rebels. The line was supposed to be the best part of the ďD,Ē led by DE Marquis Haynes, along with DE Victor Evans and DT Breeland Speaks. They have a second level led by a very energetic linebacker in DeMarquis Gates and a rising force in Detric Bing-Dukes. The secondary needs to continue its solid play with CB Myles Hartsfield, along with Zedrick Woods and AJ Moore. While the offense should be able to thrive in spots against Cal, this is where we see if this defense is up-to-snuff. From just a naked-eye perspective, the jury is out to say the least.

Again, wins over South Alabama and Tennessee-Martin only tell us so much. Interim Ole Miss coach Matt Luke, a former center on the Rebels, has his work cut out for him with the bowl ban. With the level of opposition beginning to get more difficult, this is where we will see what theyíre really made of. Itís just hard to cross the country and face a team that is playing for something, while Ole Missí source of motivation is less-clear. It might not show in games like the first two they played, but this is where weíll see if they have the edge they need to pull out games like this.

Granted, the Golden Bears didnít come all that close to covering the spread in their 33-20 Saturday win over Weber State, but their week one win over the Tar Heels was impressive and they look to be in good position for their first big home game of the season. They are now under first-year coach Justin Wilcox, who will run an up-tempo offense, just not as frenetic as his predecessor Sonny Dykes. It is Wilcoxís job to establish a new quarterback after years with Jared Goff and then Davis Webb last season. Itís also important to reconstruct an offensive line that lost a lot of personnel.

Sophomore Ross Bowers is the new Golden Bears quarterback. He impressed with a big 363-yard performance against UNC in week one. He was less impactful in week two, but they didnít need him with the run-game going into overdrive. This year, we were supposed to see a big 1-2 punch with Tre Watson (questionable) and Vic Enwere. But on Saturday, junior back Patrick Laird, quiet for two seasons, suddenly was running rampant with 191 yards and three touchdowns. WR Demetris Robertson returns and also contributes with runs and is a very productive sophomore. Vic Wharton III looks to be a major player in this offense, as well, along with Jordan Veasy. Alas, the line needs to perform to allow all this depth to resonate and to afford Bowers a chance to grow into the position. So far, so good, but only center Addison Ooms returns on a line that often struggles to maintain Pac-12 standards up-front.

The Cal defense has been pretty terrible in recent seasons, often undermining an electric offense. While they held up decently in their first two games, this is their first real test. Former Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter is now coordinating the defense and maybe some of his handiwork can rub off. He will switch to a 3-4 and already, weíve seen an improved pass-rush. The linebacking corps is pretty good, with James Looney, Devante Downs, Cameron Saffle, and Raymond Davison, III. At corner, seniors Marloshawn Franklin, Darius Allensworth, and youngster Camryn Bynum are pretty solid, along with S Quentin Tartabull. There is little depth up-front and the secondary is going to need to be really good in this game.

This is a tough game between two teams that are still hard to read in week 3. Both squads are in a transition mode to varying degrees. Ole Miss has flashed a potent offense that should thrive in spots against a still-unproven Cal defense. Weíre not sure, however, that the bigger concern isnít the Ole Miss defense and how theyíre going to contain a Cal offense on the road. Iím taking the home dog in this one.

Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím betting on the Cal Golden Bears plus 3.5 points. Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at an online bookie where it WILL work for deposits and where you'll receive a generous 100% signup bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $250! (Example: Deposit $250 and they'll give you an extra $250 FREE!) Find this great offer at Bovada Sportsbook.

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