Game: Connecticut Huskies at Utah State Aggies
Date: Saturday, August 27
Time: 4 p.m. ET
Odds: Connecticut +26.5, Utah State -26.5
Utah State is garnering a lot of attention following ESPN.com’s August 24th story about two gambling friends wagering $1,000 on the Aggies to win the national championship at 1,000-1 odds with Caesars Sportsbook. Utah State tied the school record with eleven wins last season and won the program’s first Mountain West Conference title. Second-year head coach Blake Anderson welcomes back twelve starters, including starting quarterback Logan Bonner but could be caught looking ahead to Alabama on deck.
Connecticut begins a new era under Jim Mora, Jr., who boasts a combined 46-30 record as a head coach at the college and the NFL levels. Mora welcomes back fifteen starters from last year’s 1-11 squad, including leading receiver Keelan Marion and top running back Nathan Carter. Carter ran for 578 yards at 4.6 yards per carry last season and received a lot of praise from the coaching staff during the spring and summer.
“Every observer who comes through Storrs has nothing but praise for the compact, versatile back. Should be the lead horse in the stable,” reported Ric Serritella. The Huskies also have a new quarterback in Penn State transfer Ta’Quan Roberson, a four-star dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school. The Huskies should have success moving the ball against a revamped Utah State defense that lost four of its top five tacklers, including first-team All-Mountain West linebacker Justin Rice.
Overall, Utah State’s defense brings back just four starters. In contrast, Connecticut returns eight starters from a defensive unit that ranked 29th in the nation in explosiveness allowed last season, which is significant in that the Aggies’ offense ranked third in explosiveness in 2021 but only 101st in Success Rate. Nine of the Huskies’ top 11 tacklers from last year are back for Mora’s inaugural season in Storrs. Let’s also note that Connecticut played the third-most underclassman in the country last season.
Since 2016, college football teams that won three games or less the previous season are a profitable 224-166-9 ATS (57.4%) as underdogs in season-openers. Since 2013, college football favorites of seven points or more are just 18-25 ATS in Week 0/1 matchups between Group of 5 teams. Coming off seasons in which teams lost at least six games by 20 points or more, teams with at least fourteen starters back have improved by 3.7 wins per season over the last nine years. These teams have improved by 22.9% against-the-spread over that span. Take Connecticut and invest with confidence.
Utah State Regression: No team won more games after trailing at halftime than Utah State last season. The Aggies won five games as underdogs and went 4-0 in games decided by four points or less.
Words of Caution: Utah State is 9-1 ATS in its last ten home games as a favorite of more than 20 points and 4-1 ATS in its previous five non-conference affairs, while the Huskies are 1-6 ATS in their last seven season-openers. Let’s also note that Connecticut started last season out west at Fresno State and lost 45-0 (outgained by 431 total yards).
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