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Wildcats Begin Non-Conference Schedule With Lowly Golden Bears

Posted by Blake Frazier on 8/21/2014 10:27:24 PM

The Northwestern Wildcats went 5-7 last season and missed the post season for the first time since 2007. This coming year should be much better for Pat Fitzgerald and his squad however as they return numerous key players on offense, and a total of 17 starters from last year's team. The California Golden Bears should also improve upon last season, however, that will be mainly because they went 1-11 and it would be harder to do much worse, but they do return key skill position players and should move the ball down the field with ease.

California Golden Bears @ Northwestern Wildcats

Saturday August 30, 2014 – 3:30 PM ET

Odds: Northwestern -11

What To Watch For From The Northwestern Wildcats

Quarterback Kain Colter is gone, meaning incoming senior Trevor Siemian will handle the signal-caller duties full time this year and drastically improve upon his 2,149 yards passing and 11 touchdowns from last season. Siemian ran a more traditional pro-style of offense last season when compared to Colter, which is the reason the Wildcats offense will take off this year and gain more than 3,500 yards through the air. They do return their leading rusher from last season Treyon Green, but the real stars on offense will be Siemian and his favorite target, 6-3” 225-pound Christian Jones, who caught 54 passes for 668 yards last season. Scoring points shouldn't be all that hard for the Wildcats, especially against the Golden Bears defense, but stopping an established offense will be a challenge for Northwestern this season, likely the reason they will hover around .500 all year.

What To Watch For From The California Golden Bears

California limped to just one win all last season, but the return of sophomore quarterback Jared Goff has fans across the nation excited. As a freshmen Goff passed for 3,500 yards and 18 touchdowns on a 60% completion rate, numbers that will only rise as he gains experience and plays more snaps. Goff also has the benefit of having his leading receiver return this season as junior Chris Harper is a two-year starter who already has eclipsed 1,200 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in his collegiate career. Just like the Wildcats, California excels on offense, but they also lack any true defensive playmaker – the reason they gave up an astounding 46 points per game last season.

Prediction

Although neither team in this game will be competing to make the four-team playoff to determine the college football champion, it will be a fun game to watch for those who like offense and high-scoring affairs. The over/under bet for this game would be one to consider as both teams will likely put 40 points on the board, but when it comes to the spread it makes this trickier as either team could realistically end up on top. Both these teams can put points on the board rather easily, but the winner of this game will be decided by a late defensive stop that seals the game, something that favors the Golden Bears because of the 11 points they receive from the spread.

Pick: California

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