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.
He can begin to prove skeptics wrong on Saturday as the Cornhuskers travel to Illinois for the first kickoff of the 2021 season. Betting lines say he will. Our prediction system (Savvygameline.com) says he won’t. Our system sees Illinois prevailing 35-30.
Indeed, Nebraska has more talent, but Illinois has a jolt of winning influence from new head coach Brett Bielema, formerly of Wisconsin. Bielema only had a few weeks to recruit, yet he brought a higher level of talent to Urbana-Champaign than any predecessor in more than a decade, so program momentum is quite high.
All of this week’s predictions can be seen here.
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 came into this one as a conservative six-point favorite on our system.
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 and less than 2% interceptions led the ‘Bows in rushing.
Thompson-Robinson was also a prized recruit from 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.
In other FBS games, our Index shows Fresno State at home against a weak Connecticut team that hasn’t played since Thanksgiving of 2019. I wouldn’t say I like the meager nine-point spread, but I’m also not enamored with betting lines that are more than three times higher.
I’ve dialed in the components to produce bonus predictions from the FCS for the fun of it. Our system lists Indiana State over Eastern Illinois 36-21 and North Carolina Central over Alcorn State 30-27.
Next week, the PAC-12 gets into full action, led by LSU at UCLA and San Jose State at USC.
We will have predictions for those and all 825 other games throughout the FBS season.
Last year, the Savvy Index finished with 76% accuracy in predicting 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.