The start of the college football season is just a day away and that means that Friday Locks are back on Heartland Sports. This year we’re teaming up with Tallysight to track our picks. If you’re new to the site or to this feature, we each pick three games and then give you our picks against the spread. This week all four of us picked the Nebraska/Illinois game and there wasn’t a lot of faith shown in the Huskers. The other game that all four of us shared an opinion on was Hawaii/UCLA and once again we had little love for the Bruins in Week 1.
Make sure to read our individual thoughts below and definitely check out Tallysight!
Nebraska at Illinois | “Due to the current state of the Nebraska football program, it’s hard to imagine them going on the road and playing well in a season opener. I like the Fighting Illini in this one.”
Hawaii at UCLA | “Hawaii has won their season opener for the past four years in a row. Unfortunately, I do think the streak ends this year. That being said, the Warriors will keep it close.”
Southern Utah at San Jose State | “The Spartans are the all around better football team in this matchup. It’s a decent sized spread to cover, but I think San Jose State will make it look easy.”
Nebraska at Illinois | “Scott Frost’s seat is about as hot as it gets, and while I don’t think Nebraska is going to return to the status of college football’s elite, I do think they will have a better record than a season ago. Meanwhile, Brett Bielema is stepping into a tough spot with Illinois. I’ll take the Cornhuskers by a touchdown, even if they are on the road.”
Hawaii at UCLA | “Hawaii had a decent season a year ago, capitalized by a win over Houston in the New Mexico Bowl, while UCLA lost 4 games by a total of 15 points. Close losses can hurt, but they can also make you better. Still, I think it’s a tall order to beat this Warriors team by almost 3 touchdowns, so I don’t the Bruins can cover the spread.”
UCONN at Fresno State | “Fresno State barely played last season, finishing 3-3 in limited games, but UConn didn’t have a season at all. I think that plays a major role in how this season kicks off for the Huskies, and they haven’t been good in quite some time, so I think the Bulldogs blow this wide open early.”
Southern Utah at San Jose State | “San Jose state is coming off its first conference championship since 1991 and gets to open the season as a heavy favorite, at home, against an FCS opponent. The think is, Southern Utah can scores some points and mover the ball. In their spring season the Thunderbirds 382 yards of offense per game, while scoring an average of 26.5 points and producing a Top-15 passing offense. The Spartans should win here but I’m not confident in a 24 point cushion.”
Nebraska at Illinois | “Illinois demolished Nebraska 41-23 in Lincoln last year so they’ll enter this game with a lot of confidence. The transfer of Luke McCaffrey puts Adrian Martinez in complete control of the offense for the Huskers which could help the improve from their ranking of 102 last year in scoring, or it could hurt. That’s the problem here because there are some significant unknowns. The Illini need to show marked improvement on the defensive side of the ball after surrendering an average of 34.9 points per game (97th nationally). Offensively the Fighting Illini pounded Nebraska’s defense for 285 yards and four touchdowns on the ground last year and that’s where they’ll start this year as well. I look for Illinois to control the clock in this one and keep it tight through out. ”
Hawaii at UCLA | “Hawaii scored 26.2 points per game last year and gave up an average of 27.6. That’s not great but UCLA gave up 30.7 points per game in 2020 while scoring 35.4. This has all the makings of a shootout and should be a lot of fun. I don’t think it’ll be a three-score final either. Keep in mind that the Bruins are 0-6 in non-conference games under Chip Kelly, including an 0-2 mark against the Mountain West.”
Nebraska at Illinois – This, for lack of a better term, appears to be a revenge game for Nebraska. Too bad it’s on the road as the Cornhuskers must overcome a lackluster rushing defense and the offensive turnovers to be successful. Unfortunately for Big Red, I don’t think that’ll be the case as I’m giving Illinois the win.
Hawaii at UCLA – I believe the Bruins can put up points on the board. However, Hawaii returns all 11 starters on the defensive side of the ball. It will be strength on strength but UCLA has the advantage of playing in their own time zone. Due to that, I think Hawaii falls flat and UCLA wins comfortably.
UCONN at Fresno State – On such a big spread in week 1, this is an easy pick for me for no other reason than just that. Give me the Huskies to cover.
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