BETTING WITH DRU EP. 1
BETTING WITH DRU
Intro: Welcome Podcast listening world to Episode 1 of Betting with Dru. You can find all my content on the Start of an Era Channel via Apple podcasts or on spotify. The website for the show is Startofanera.com. Im your host here to deliver my weekly thoughts and opinions on sports bets for the upcoming weekend with my boy Bryson. Coming up on the podcast, College football has returned and give my opinion on the odds and spreads for these games with some analysis. I give my advice on parlay’s for baseball games I trust over the weekend.
First it’s almost about that time for College football to begin and even though there is no sexy Power 5 schools playing this weekend, nothing is better than the joy of watching football come back into our lives….well maybe the Sinister Six in the new spider man movie of course. Lets begin with the matchups, odds and spreads:
Illnois vs Nebraska (-7.5) +104 ML -265
Last week the NCAA announced that it was opening an investigation into the Nebraska football program over practice violations, putting into question whether or not Scott Frost will be on the sidelines for the Cornhuskers’ opener. Despite this off-field news, the Cornhuskers are still 7-point road favorites and they return 8 players on defense, plus senior quarterback Adrian Martinez. Starting the season with experience at key positions should allow the Huskers get a road win regardless of Frost’s presence, but it may not be a convincing one.
Bret Bielema is beginning his era in Illinois with a roster that will feature 22 super seniors and 18 traditional seniors who will give the Illini experience across the board. With an offensive line that has a combined 132 starts, a super senior QB, and an RB core that features 4 strong running options, Illinois should be able to keep pace with Nebraska, who averaged only 23 PPG in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season. With off-field distractions for Nebraska and an Illinois team motivated to start Bielema’s tenure in the W column, consider a small wager on Illinois to keep this one close.
While both teams enter their season opener with loads of experience, don’t expect this game to be too high-scoring. Nebraska may not have their head coach on the sidelines at kick-off and the Illini are likely to still be figuring out Bielema’s new system. Historically, Bielema has favored the run game in his previous coaching roles and with depth at running back and a highly experienced offensive line, this trend is likely not to change, which is unlikely to lead to a fast-paced game.
With an inconsistent and unreliable offense, Nebraska will also be leaning on its defense behind their spring-game standouts including LB Blaise Gunnerson and DL Nash Hutmacher, who have shown significant progress during the 2021 offseason. Additionally, the under is 4-0 in Nebraska’s last 4 Big Ten games and is 6-0 in the team’s last 6 road trips. Back the under trend to continue with these shaky offenses and a Nebraska defense ready to make an early impact.
My picks NEB ML; ILL +7.5 & U 54.5
UCONN vs FRESNO STATE (-27.5) -110; ML 6000; 62.5
The UConn Huskies haven’t played a game since November 30, 2019, and their first game in nearly two years comes against Fresno State, a team with aspirations of contending in a competitive Mountain West conference. With UConn taking last season off, more than 20 players transferred out of the program, while Fresno State retains 74% of its high-powered offense, and 78% of its top-40 defense from a season ago. Jake Haener returns as quarterback for the Bulldogs, as does every major offensive contributor, including preseason All-Conference running back Ronnie Rivers.
On the other hand, the last time we saw UConn’s defense for a full season, the Huskies ranked near the bottom of the nation in most statistical categories, allowing 467 yards and 40 points per game. It’s difficult to assess how the year away from game action will impact the Huskies, but the program is still 1-12 straight up in its last 13 away games and 1-6 against the spread in its last 7 Week 1 contests. Fresno State should be better than last year’s team on both sides of the ball, and this game could be a struggle for a UConn team still adjusting to live football. Take the Bulldogs.
There’s no question that Fresno State can put up points about as well as any team in the Mountain West, and the over has cashed in 6 of the Bulldogs’ last 8 games as a favorite. However, we shouldn’t expect much from UConn’s offense, especially opening the season against an experienced front seven.
With the current total exceeding 60 points, it’s hard to see the Huskies contributing enough to clear this number. Fresno should have its backups on the field to close out the game, and the Bulldogs may be more focused on running clock then extending an already insurmountable lead as time winds down. Take the under.
My picks FRST ML; FRST -27.5 & U 62.5 (-109)
HAWAII vs UCLA (-17.5) ML -1250; 68.5
In its home opener, UCLA will look to get a win against a decent Hawaii team and start their season strongly. UCLA went 3-4 last year in Chip Kelly’s third year as head coach, but most chalk that up to be a wash due to COVID. This will be year four for Kelly and his seat is as hot as any other in the country. He should have his team fired up and ready to win in Week 1. Kelly is still the same coach who was in the top 5 in points per game every year he was at Oregon. They are returning 20 starters from last year and should have a strong veteran presence on both offense and defense.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson returns for his fourth year at QB for UCLA and should keep the offense scoring points with a strong receiving corps to match. They averaged 35.4 ppg last year with him as the starter. Hawaii on the other hand is only returning 7 starters on offense. They are also in their second year with new head coach Todd Graham. The last time these schools met produced a 56-23 bashing for Hawaii in 2017, and this game will likely be similar. Look for UCLA to come out fired up for their coach and to cover the spread.
This game should start as a defensive battle. UCLA averaged 35.4 ppg last season and Hawaii averaged 26.2 ppg. These numbers look relatively even but UCLA was down last year and should be better this time with more veterans and Power 5 talent.
Both of these teams have got a lot better on defense. UCLA is returning 10 starters on that side of the ball and Hawaii is returning all 11. Expect UCLA and Hawaii to struggle early on offense with both defenses shored up in this early-season game. UCLA is still a Power 5 school and their talent should overpower Hawaii, but only after a slow start.
MY PICKS: UCLA ML; UCLA -17.5 & UNDER 68.5
UTEP vs NEW MEXICO STATE (+10.5) -112; UTEP ML -400; 58.5
The UTEP Miners will travel less than an hour on Saturday to take on rivals the New Mexico State Aggies. UTEP played 8 games last year and was victorious in 3 of them, whereas NMSU cancelled its season entirely due to COVID-19. The Aggies did play in 2 games this spring, going 1-1 against FCS competition. And while the Miners certainly aren’t Alabama, they are definitely an upgrade from what the Aggies saw in those games. UTEP defensive end Praise Amaewhule has a legitimate shot to play on Sundays and he could wreak havoc on a fairly inexperienced NMSU offensive line. In the last full season that the program played, New Mexico State was just 2-10 overall as they continue to play as an independent. Coach Doug Martin’s seat has to be getting warm at a minimum as the school is just 23-64 in his eight years running the program. The team has just one winning record in that span and one bowl victory, with that coming in 2017 when the school went 7-6 and won the Arizona Bowl over Utah State.
NMSU has won the previous 3 meetings between these schools, and because it’s a rivalry game you always have to be prepared for any outcome. But considering New Mexico State hasn’t played a real game in two years, their underwhelming spring game results, and the Miners having the best player on the field for either side, it’s hard to envision UTEP not coming away with the win. The Miners will also have the experience edge at quarterback with returning starter Gavin Hardison. He completed 108 of 199 passes for 1,419 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions last season. Neither of these squads is expected to be much good this year, but the Miners should do enough to eke out a cover. Take UTEP. UTEP -10 available at time of publishing. Playable at that number. The Miners finished the 2020 season 91st in the nation in passing offense with an average of 209.3 yards per game this season. UTEP was 97th in rushing offense as they picked up an average of 138.9 yards per contest on the year. The Miners finished just 104th of 128 FBS teams to see action last season in scoring offense as they mustered up 23 points a game. UTEP was 76th in scoring defense by allowing 31 points a contest.
Calvin Brownholtz was 18 of 37 for 255 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions plus 114 rushing yards along with three scores while Isaiah Bravo was zero for two last season. Deion Hankins returns after leading the team with 121 carries for 592 yards and nine scores last year. Ronald Awatt (42 carries, 190 yards, three TD) and Quardraiz Watley, who ran for 627 yards plus seven scores in 2018 but has only three carries since, are next in line on the depth chart. Jacob Cowing (41 receptions, 691 yards, three TD) led the team in receptions and receiving yards last year. Justin Garrett (38 catches, 510 yards, three TD) is next in line and Walter Dawn Jr. (20 grabs, 202 yards) also return, giving the Miners their top three pass catchers from a year ago. The potential for an offensive improvement is there. Gavin Baechle was 23 of 23 on extra points and five of nine on field goals with a long of 47, is back though he may have to compete with freshman Mark Ramos for the kicking job.
In UTEP’s final 3 games last season, the team averaged almost 31 points per game and their offense looked to be clicking on all cylinders. They will return all 11 offensive starters from that team. NMSU didn’t play at all last year, but they do have some interesting weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Michigan transfer running back O’Maury Samuels should bring some extra pop to a backfield that already has speedster Juwaun Price.
UTEP should have no problem moving the ball against a New Mexico State defense that gave up 43 to Tarleton State in February, and expect NMSU to put up some numbers late when the game is already out of reach. The over in this matchup has hit in 6 of the last 8 games. Take the over. Over 56.5 available at time of publishing. Playable at that number.
MY PICKS: UTEP -10 (-108); ML (-400) & O 58.5 (-115)
SOUTHERN UTAH vs SAN JOSE ST (-23.5); ML -2200; 56.5
The defending Mountain West champion San Jose State Spartans kick off their 2021 campaign on Saturday against FCS opponent Southern Utah. San Jose State proved to be one of the most profitable teams to back in 2020, boasting a 7-1-1 record against the spread. Southern Utah is coming off a 1-5 showing in their Spring session but were seemingly in every game they played. Meanwhile, San Jose State were 1 win away from an undefeated shortened season and boasted one of the best defenses in the conference, with 10 returning starters on that side of the ball. This unit held opponents to 19.9 points per game and could be even better this year.
They should pick up right where they left off. Nick Starkel and the San Jose State offense averaged 6.58 yards per play in 2020, best in the Mountain West conference, and they return all 5 starters on the offensive line. They could make a slow start to the game with a talented Southern Utah defensive front in opposition, but look for this experienced San Jose State offense to really find their stride in the second half, where even more value could be found in a halftime spread. San Jose State -21.5 available at time of publishing, playable to San Jose State -22.5.
Both teams boast stout defensive fronts. An offense like Southern Utah doesn’t plan on airing it downfield. Even if they did, they wouldn’t find much success or many points. Southern Utah is also coming off a disappointing 2020 season and will look to find an identity early, but that will be made difficult by a very experienced San Jose State defense.
If Southern Utah finds a way to keep this game close in the first half, that’s even better for the under because they will do so with La’akea Kaho’ohanohano-Davis and their defense until San Jose State finds their stride in the second half. San Jose State totals went under in their last 6 games of the 2020 season, and that trend should continue on Saturday. Under 55.5 available at time of publishing.
MY PICKS: SJST ML -2200; -23.5 (-112) & U 56.5 -112
ALCORN STATE vs NC CENTRAL (+14.5) -115; ALC ML -700; 52.5
ESPN’s “College GameDay” will begin its 35th season at the annual season-opening matchup between the two HBCU conferences in FCS college football. The MEAC holds a 10-4 lead over the SWAC in the Challenge, with North Carolina Central losing to Prairie View A&M 40-24 in its lone appearance in 2018, one year after Alcorn State’s first appearance was declared a no contest due to inclement weather ending the matchup at Bethune-Cookman in the second quarter. Both of this year’s entrants last played in 2019, having opted out of the 2020 season that was delayed by the pandemic to this past spring. N.C. Central was a slow-starting team in 2019, scoring only 23 first-quarter points in a 4-8 campaign. On offense, Richard (2,020 passing yards) will distribute the ball to veteran players in the skills positions, including Totten, who ranks seventh in school history with 2,122 rushing yards, and wide receiver Ryan McDaniel, who had a team-high 39 receptions in 2019. The offensive line is revamped, something the Eagles didn’t have to do to their defensive line, with D-end Jessie Malit the unit leader. Stokes can produce anywhere in the secondary, totaling 62 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles as a junior. Alcorn State begins its 100th season of football, having won a second consecutive SWAC championship and finishing 9-4 in 2019. The Braves averaged 33.6 points per game, fueled by the big three of Harper (3,123 yards of total offense, 39 total touchdowns), Duffey (1,065 yards and eight TDs from scrimmage) and WR LeCharles Pringle (48 receptions, 828 yards, 14 TDs). The Braves’ offensive and defensive lines are almost entirely new. Strong in the secondary, the defense led the FCS in interceptions (21) and turnovers forced (36) in 2019.
Prediction – Even with Alcorn State breaking in a lot of new starters, its offensive firepower is too much for N.C. Central. Alcorn State, 34-23.
My picks: ALC ML -700; NC CENT +14.5 (+470) O 52.5
We are blessed for tis the season of not only football happening this weekend but we still got baseball going on. Me and Bryson both discuss our favorite over the weekend parlays.
OVER THE WEEKEND PARLAYS
o TBR, PHI, HOU, CIN, LAD & BOS
o SEA, CIN, TOR, STL, HOU, CWS & LAD
o TOR, CHC, HOU, LAD, SEA & NYY
I would like to thank all the listeners for joining me today, if you have any questions or any fantasy topics you want me to discuss just submit them on the website; start of an era.com Next 2 episodes Bryson & I will be going over our NFL week 1 picks, college football week 1 part 2 picks and Baseball picks. So listeners please rate/review the podcast and Ill be back soon to bless your ears again.https://open.spotify.com/episode/0WnvgN3DaTuYHgP6kPHYBF?si=hxX8NNmpTm-JJ10uiazDJA&dl_branch=1