California Golden Bears (0-0) at Hawaii Warriors (0-0)
|Date & Time||Friday August 26, 2016, 10:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Hawaii Warriors +23 -- Over/Under: 63
The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors will travel to ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia to take on the California Golden Bears to kick off the 2016 College Football season this Thursday night.
The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors were able to start the 2015 on the right foot upsetting the Colorado Buffaloes in their season opener, however, this was unfortunately the highlight of their season as the Rainbows finished the year with just a 3-10 overall record while going 0-8 in MW play. Hawaii is currently in rebuilding mode this season and first year head coach, Nick Rolovich, will have his work cut out for him to try and improve an offense that averaged just 17.6 ppg (ranked 118) while giving up an average of 35.6 ppg (ranked 105th). Hawaii will be returning 9 starters on the offensive side of the ball and should be led by their experienced offensive line and RB Paul Harris who averaged 94.3 yds/game on 16.4 carries while scoring 6 TD’s. The Rainbow Warriors defensive suffered a big blow when they had to release their star DT, Kennedy Tulimasealii, due to violations of the team conduct policy. Hawaii’s defense will be led by LB Jerrol Garcia-Williams who finished last season with 89 tackles and 1.5 sacks. The Rainbow Warriors will be very inexperienced in the defensive backfield having to replace both cornerbacks from last years squad. For Hawaii to stay in games this season they’ll have to find some answers against the run as the Rainbow Warriors allowed their opponents to average 239.8 rushing yds/game.
The California Golden Bears finished the 2016 season with an 8-5 overall record and although they struggled in the difficult Pac-12 going just 4-5, they were able to finish their season on a strong note defeating the Air Force Falcons, 55-36, in the Armed Forces Bowl. California had one of the best offensives in the country last season as they averaged 37.9 ppg (ranked 17th) on 376.3 passing yds/game (ranked 3rd) and 152.8 rushing yds/game (ranked 91st) however, it will be hard for the Golden Bears to replicate those numbers as star QB Jared Goff will now be playing with the LA Rams on Sunday. Head Coach Sonny Dykes has a lot of work cut out for him this season as the Golden Bears return only 9 starters from last year’s squad. Replacing Jared Goff will be Texas Tech graduate transfer Davis Webb who had little action behind Patrick Mahomes II at Texas Tech last season. The Golden Bears will be very inexperienced at the WR position as they lost their top 6 WR’s from last season and will most likely have a RB by committee led by Tre Watson who finished last season averaging 44.91 yds/game on 8 carries/game. The Golden Bears defensive struggled last season allowing their opponents to average 30.7 ppg and although the do have some experience returning on the defensive line, they are very inexperienced at the LB position and in the defensive backfield.. Leading the way for the California defense will be DB Damariay Drew who had 70 tackles and 2 INT last season.
The Golden Bears are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games in August however, just 1-4 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games. The Rainbow Warriors are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 vs. Pac-12 and 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 games on grass.
California opens up as a big favorite in this one and although they are the better team, I think this spread is a bit high considering how much talent they loss on the offensive side of the ball. We should see Hawaii get back to more of a spread offense under 1st year coach Nick Rolovich and as I foresee the Golden Bears having trouble on the defensive end all season, I think the Rainbow Warriors will put up enough points on the board to keep this one within the number. Take Hawaii and the points.