Connecticut Huskies vs. Fresno State Bulldogs Odds & Pick
Connecticut Huskies (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
When: Saturday, August 28, 2 p.m.
Where: Bulldog Stadium, Fresno, Calif.
TV: CBS Sports Network
Point Spread: CONN +27.5/FRES -27.5 (GTBets)
Total: O/U 62.5
Week 0 doesn’t exactly lend itself to great college football, as this week mainly includes teams who have either been told to start early by their conference or are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they get on some network during a week with little competition. This game is the latter, as Connecticut hasn’t played a football game since 2019. The Huskies decided not to play in the COVID season, given that they had no conference to call home in a year when conference-only schedules became the norm. However, that means that the Huskies are likely going to be rather rusty, and Connecticut wasn’t a good team before COVID existed. The Huskies have gone 9-39 over their past four seasons of action, and four of those wins came against FCS competition. Fresno State has been down over the past two seasons after a pair of 10-win campaigns in 2017 and 2018, and the Bulldogs will be trying to actually live up to expectations for a change. The Bulldogs are just 5-11 ATS over their past 16 contests and have gone a bankroll depleting 3-7 SU in their past ten as a favorite. They shouldn’t have any problems getting a comfortable win over a weak Connecticut squad, but whether they can cover nearly four touchdowns might be another matter. How the Public is Betting the Connecticut/Fresno State Game
The public isn’t really touching this game enough to affect the line, in large part because these are lesser-known teams. Neither spread nor total has budged.
Injury ConcernsConnecticut: The Huskies report no injuries. Fresno State: The Bulldogs report no injuries.
When Connecticut Has the Ball
If the Huskies are going to have any chance to stay in this game, they have to get running back Kevin Mensah established early in the game and use him to keep the clock moving. Mensah has shown himself to be a solid collegiate running back, notching a pair of 1,000-yard seasons in his sophomore and junior years. However, the rest of the running game looked like something that was killed crossing the street in 2019, as the Huskies gained an anemic 3.6 YPC in 2019 and averaged just 18.9 points per game.
It would help if the young passing attack can grow up rather quickly, but the freshman seasons turned in by quarterback Jack Zergiotis and receivers Cameron Ross and Matt Drayton left a little to be desired. The passing attack was a little better in 2019 than in 2018, but Zergiotis finished with more interceptions than touchdowns, and the Huskies scored 17 points or less in five of their final seven games. If the passing attack can get going and Mensah can punch holes in a Fresno defense that allowed 5.2 YPC a year ago, this game could be close and low-scoring, exactly what Connecticut wants. If Mensah doesn’t go anywhere, the Huskies won’t either.
When Fresno State Has the Ball
Jake Haener should be a lot better in his second season at Fresno. The former Washington quarterback joined the Bulldogs in 2020 and showed a strong command of the offense, tossing 14 touchdowns against five interceptions and helping Fresno to a 3-3 record. He’s got his entire receiving corps back as well as the left side of his line, which should allow the Bulldogs plenty of time to attack defenses and put up some big numbers.
The problem is that the Bulldogs’ running game was virtually non-existent a season ago, and if that doesn’t change, Fresno State won’t do much of anything. The Bulldogs averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in 2020, their lowest total since 2016. Fresno battled injuries on the line all season last year, and if the Bulldogs’ line can stay healthy, there’s a good chance that Fresno will have a much more balanced attack than it did last season.
Keeping the ball for long drives would be a critical piece of the puzzle for Fresno because the Bulldogs really hurt themselves by getting the offense off the field too quickly and wearing out their own defense. In a loss to New Mexico a year ago, Fresno held a 31-21 lead in the third quarter, only to watch the Lobos take full advantage of the lack of a sustained drive to outscore the Bulldogs 28-8 over the rest of the contest. Fresno gave up 86 points over its final two games last season, and a large part of that was because the offense either scored quickly or went 3-and-out quickly.
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Taking Connecticut and the points as of late hasn’t worked out for bettors, as the Huskies proved so inept that they’re 1-4 ATS in their past five games against a team giving them 20+ points. Going on the road has been especially awful for the Huskies, who were 1-5 SU and 2-4 ATS away from Rentschler Field last season. Taking out the game at Massachusetts, which saw both teams light up the scoreboard, the Huskies’ other five road games in 2019 saw them outscored 240-51, an average final score of 48-10. However, trusting Fresno isn’t easy, considering that the Bulldogs finished 2019 by not only losing four straight ATS but losing all four of them straight up. Fresno was a little better at meeting expectations in 2020, but the Bulldogs were just 3-2 ATS as a favorite a season ago. With ten starters back on defense, the Bulldogs might become an under team this season, but only if they can shore up a defense that has given up 30 points a game or more in five of their past seven seasons.
Weather ReportIf this game doesn’t get moved to a less hot part of the day, I’ll be surprised. The high is projected at 102 degrees in Fresno for Week 0, and the wind will blow at six miles per hour, which shouldn’t be enough to notice much of a difference.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
It’s hard to trust Fresno State to cover this huge number, but the Bulldogs’ passing attack should be able to strike early and often, and if they can force Connecticut to get away from the ground, they’ll take the Huskies’ best weapon out of the contest. I don’t know what we’re going to see out of Connecticut, but with the Huskies likely to be rusty and not a good road team anyway, I think Fresno can put up a strong number here. I’ll take the Bulldogs to get the cover.