The Nebraska Cornhuskers are back!
Said no one ever.
Think about it. The last time Nebraska won a national championship in football, George Wallace was still alive, gas was $1.22 per gallon, and Mad Cow disease was a “thing”.
Head coach Scott Frost was expected to become the Wizard of Lincoln who would change all of that, but after three losing seasons and now an NCAA investigation, his Yellow Brick Road might be glistening more from the dew of those cows than actual gold.
On Saturday, he can begin to prove skeptics wrong as the Cornhuskers travel to Illinois for the very first kickoff of the 2021 season. Betting lines say he will. Savvy Index says he won’t. Our system sees Illinois prevailing 35-30.
Indeed, Nebraska has more talent but Illinois has more experienced upper classmen plus a jolt of winning influence from new head coach Brett Bielema, formerly of Wisconsin. Although Bielema only had a few weeks to recruit, he brought a higher level of talent to Urbana-Champaign than any predecessor in more than a decade, so program momentum is quite high.
In other games, the Savvy Index shows Fresno State at home against a weak Connecticut team that hasn’t played since Thanksgiving of 2019. I don’t like Savvy’s meager nine-point spread but I’m also not enamored with betting lines that are more than three times higher.
All of this week’s Savvy predictions are shown below.
The PAC-12 gets a premium opportunity to showcase itself as the UCLA Bruins host Hawai’i on ESPN at 12:30 PT. UCLA won 56-23 in the last matchup between these two in 2017 and comes into this one as a conservative six-point favorite on the Index.
This will be a game of exciting quarterbacks as both Dorian Thompson-Robinson of UCLA and Chevan Cordeiro of Hawai’i are dynamic dual threats. I was impressed with Cordeiro when he signed with the ‘Bows so I’m not surprised that in his first year as a starter in 2020 he produced over 60% completions, less than 2% interceptions, and he led the ‘Bows in rushing.
Thompson-Robinson was also a prized recruit coming out of high school but he has yet to reach his peak especially in getting passes to long ball receivers.
This game has a high upset rating because Cordeiro has been effective on a more consistent basis and because Thompson-Robinson continues to throw interceptions at a 3% rate.
Next week, the PAC-12 gets into full action led by LSU at UCLA and San Jose State at USC.
Savvy Index will have predictions for those and all 825 other games throughout the FBS season.
Last year, the Index finished with 76% accuracy in predcitting 539 games. That is just one percent less than the system’s historical accuracy despite an adverse environment that essentially provided no preseason data. And, FBS teams eliminated FCS opponents from their schedules which deprived prognosticators of a traditional cushion.
But, the excitement of a new season is upon us and the full slate of this week’s Savvy Index predictions follows.
|This week: 7-0 100%||Aug||28|
|top 25||This season: 7-0 100%||wins||losses||prediction||final||notes|
|Nebraska||0||1||30||22||Oddsmakers say Neb by 7.|
|New Mexico St.||0||1||30||3|
|San Jose St.||1||0||48||45|