Rutgers Scarlet Knights (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. No. 14 Washington Huskies (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday, September 3, 2PM EST (11AM PST)
Where: Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA.
by Wilson, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: RU +26/UW -26
Over/Under Total: 55
The Washington Huskies open their season at home against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Huskies came on strong last season and showed the country that although they are young they can play the game. So what is driving the Husky's push towards the top of the PAC 12 North? It might very well be a combination of youth and coaching. Young players are apt to not know any better in certain situations and this proved more successful for the young Huskies last year than not. Granted, mistakes were made and will be made, but this is where CP (Chris Petersen—Head Coach) and his staff come into the picture. CP proved himself when he was at Boise State by fielding solid teams year after year and making a mid-major a dominant powerhouse who more often than not, beat the "big" programs. He is building the same culture at UW in Seattle and the fans are loving the possibilities. Rutgers will definitely have their hands full when the take the field at Husky Stadium.
Let's take a look at the offensive side of the ball for the Washington Huskies. Yes, they are young but they are players! Sophomore QB Jake Browning returns behind center for his second season. Browning is 6'2 209 pounds and moves well within the pocket although he is not much of a threat to run as he only compiled 35 total yards rushing on 65 attempts for a 2.9 yards per game average. Browning played in 12 games last year for the Huskies and put up some impressive numbers for a freshman. He threw for 2955 yards, averaged 268 passing yards per game, and had a 61 percent completion rate. Browning tossed 16 touchdown passes and was picked off 10 times.
In addition, Browning has a strong supporting cast around him in returning sophomore tailback, Myles Gaskin. Gaskin is the real deal as he rushed last season for 1302 yards which put him 2nd in the PAC 12 North for rushing. Lining up at WR is the much anticipated return of potential game breaker John Ross, who missed last season because of an injury. Ross is expected to make great strides and establish himself as a threat on every route he runs. To make matters even better for the Huskies is the fact they have 9 of 10 offensive linemen returning. Offensively, the Huskies look good and should make the Rutgers defense work hard to even contain them.
The Husky defense just might be one of the best young defenses in the country. Why? They return 7 starters from last year’s squad who only allowed 18.8 points per game. These guys are well coached and they are led by CB Sidney Jones and FS Budda Baker as well as LB Azeem Victor. Defensive back coach Jimmy Lake deserves a lot of the credit for being patient with these young guys and helping them get to a level that may see them battling for top defensive honors and a run into the playoffs. It will be interesting to watch the Husky’s defense shut down some high powered offenses this season—a lot of teams will be scrambling to find ways to be successful against the Husky’s secondary.
On the other side of the field, Rutgers is under new Head Coach Chris Ash, Ohio State’s former defensive coordinator, who will be challenged all season to “fix” a defense that finished ranked No. 111 in yards allowed last season with 462 yards allowed per game! Ouch! The good news is that Rutgers recruiting class was ranked No. 25 ousting teams like Michigan State and TCU. The Scarlet Knights defense will have their work cut out in Seattle—this defense alone is a huge reason for the three TD point spread.
Offensively, Rutgers is seeking identity specifically at QB. The starting QB against UW will be Chris Laviano, but waiting patiently on the sideline will be TCU graduate transfer QB Zach Allen. Allen all but earned the starting role but Ash will honor the returning Laviano but he won’t hesitate to call on Allen if Laviano gets into trouble or struggles at all. Allen is a great fit for the power spread scheme and Ash has indicated he favors Allen in the system. Welcome to survival of the fittest Mr. Laviano.
UW is seriously looking strong this season and they will prove that in this opening contest against Rutgers. The Huskies have not won 10 games in a season since 1991—this might be the year they hit 10 wins or possibly more. Their D is strong, their offense greatly improved especially with returners and Ross as noted at WR. Rutgers travels a long way to get whipped! Maybe the Scarlet Knights will get to enjoy some fresh salmon or a trip up the Space Needle but they will not enjoy getting ran over inside Husky Stadium.
Wilson's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Huskies cover all day long! Luck to ya.
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