Games are at 7 pm and 10:30 pm EDT
Miami (+7) @ 8 Florida (46.5)
Pick: First half under 23.5
As with any season starting, there are going to be newcomers thrust into bigger roles. For the Miami Hurricanes, two of those new roles happen to be the head coach and their starting quarterback. After a couple weeks at Temple, Manny Diaz returned to Coral Gables when news broke last December that Mark Richt would retire. Diaz had previously been the defensive coordinator under Richt and will work his first game as the Miami head coach on Saturday night. Normally, fading first-time head coaches is a smart play in football because it’s the sport where the coach has the biggest impact on the outcome, making an inexperienced coach vulnerable. However, Diaz’s familiarity with the Miami personnel is enough for us to stay away from laying the touchdown with the eighth-ranked Gators.
Quarterback Jarren Williams, a redshirt freshman, makes his first start for the Hurricanes, and that’s the more exploitable angle in this game. When there’s a single-digit number in front of Florida, it’s usually due to its defense and that’s no different entering 2019. Florida had a good first year under Dan Mullen and Todd Grantham’s unit is likely to come out hungry looking to feast on the inexperience of Williams. Nerves could also be a factor for Williams early on as the Gators aren’t exactly the ideal opponent for a quarterback just getting his feet wet as a starter. With all of this being considered, I’m not confident enough in a mediocre Florida offense, that was closer to the bottom than the top of the SEC last season in many statistical categories to lay over a field goal in the first half. As I mentioned earlier, Diaz isn’t any other first-time coach so seven points is a little steep as well making this only a lean to Florida for me when it comes to the side. My stronger play is on the under, which I like in the first half at 23.5 compared to the full game at 46.5 because of the nervous tensions that might be a bigger factor for Williams in the first half than the second half. We’ll have to avoid a short field or two, but if we can, I don’t think we’ll be sweating much here.
Arizona (-11) @ Hawaii (74)
Pick: Hawaii +11
I’m not going to profess to be an expert on Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football. However, I do think this is a good spot to back Nick Rolovich’s team. Rolovich is entering his fifth season at Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors won eight games last year, which was the most they won since 2010. Any time a new coach comes in, it’s usually fair to expect some results by the third or fourth year after his first couple of recruiting classes start to see the field and his philosophies are installed throughout the entire program. It seems like year four under Rolovich was that turning point for the Rainbow Warriors and now they enter this season as an intriguing dark horse in the Mountain West.
Then, there’s Arizona. The Wildcats are in desperate need of a jolt in Kevin Sumlin’s second season on the sideline after failing to appear in a bowl game for the second time in three years in 2018. You would have to go back to 2014 to find the last season Arizona won more than seven games. I’m not sure Arizona is going to be fully motivated for this one. Yes, it’s the first game of the season. But if there’s ever a flat spot in a season opener, it’s at Hawaii for a power five team. I’ll be on the home dog here expecting the Rainbow Warriors, catching double digits, to come out fired up looking to make a statement early on and to have a chance to steal this one outright later on.
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