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Washington Huskies vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights Point Spread - Pick

Washington Huskies (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Friday, September 1, 2017 at 8PM EST
Where: High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, New Jersey
TV: Fox Sports One

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: WASH -30.5/RUT +30.5
Over/Under Total: 52

The Washington Huskies kick off their 2017 season with a visit to Piscataway in week one to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Last season, the Huskies were 12-2 and made it to the College Football Playoff. While some voids need to be filled from a 2016 Huskies team that put them back in the national spotlight for the first time in years, their hopes remain high and they look to hit the ground running against Rutgers on Friday. The Scarlet Knights are looking to get their program pointed in the right direction after a 2-win season where they were out of their element in the Big Ten.

Last season, these same teams met in week one in Washington with the Huskies notching a 35-point win, 48-13. Chris Ash returns for his second season at the helm of Rutgers and has his work cut out just to get them on the road to semi-respectability. It's unclear how scheduling non-conference games against teams like the Huskies is supposed to help, but it's too late to bemoan that now. Maybe Rutgers can give the Huskies a better game this season, being at home and hopefully having grown from a season filled with tough passages.

Louisville transfer QB Kyle Bolin offers Rutgers some hope on offense. If things click, the grad transfer should be an upgrade over the quarterbacks they've had recently. He has adopted a leadership role and reportedly has a good command of the offense. Taking some of the pressure should be a solid running game. They hired ex-Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill as their offensive coordinator and he has been successful in implementing solid rushing attacks in the past. Gus Edwards is a big back with moves who could make a big imprint this season. Robert Martin averaged 6.2 yards per scamper last season and they have depth behind their top two guys. Their best offensive weapon might be Janarion Grant (questionable), a receiver who does a bit of everything. If Damon Mitchell can come around, Bolin should have at least a few reliable targets.

The problem is an offensive line that has never really come around to speed, either in a Big Ten context or the purposes of matchups such as this. Pass-blocking is an ongoing issue and Bolin might be running for his life against some of the better defenses they play. It undermines the entire offense. So having depth at running back, a good QB, and a proven offensive mind in Kill will only take them so far if the line can't improve. Heading into week one, it's hard to see exactly how that will occur.

Issues are also prevalent on the Rutgers defense. No one with over 2 sacks last season returns, as their front 7 is a very youthful bunch. This is coming off a season where their ability to stop the run was abysmal. They return some experience in the middle with Deontre Roberts and Trevor Morris, but losing Tyreek Maddox-Williams to a season-ending injury in practice was extra costly. They're hoping some veterans in the secondary like Blessuan Austin, Damon Hayes, and Isaiah Wharton can help stem the flow.

Washington lost some key pieces in their playmaking and especially their secondary, but roll out Jake Browning again, the Heisman candidate quarterback who threw 41 touchdowns last season. He returns a tough 1-2 punch at running back with Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman, who both combined for over 2200 yards last season. Replacing John Ross and his receiving production won't be easy, but Browning still has Dante Pettis and Chico McClatcher, with some talent on the way up like freshman Ty Jones. The UW line will be critical, as tackles Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary return, along with 4th year starter Coleman Shelton at center. But inexperienced guards Nick Harris and Andrew Kirkland need to show their worth inside.

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When 3 members of a secondary go in the first two rounds of the NFL draft, there is going to be a void. Replacing those pieces will be key to the Washington defense and the entire team's fortunes in 2017, especially when they start playing conference games. Strong safety Taylor Rupp is back, but there will be a lot of inexperience in this area. Luckily, the front seven returns loaded and hopefully be a little better while the secondary brings itself up to speed. They were also a big part of why Washington only allowed 18 points per game last season. Vita Voa and Greg Gaines are up-front and head a tough line that excels against the run. They remain fierce in the middle with Keishawn Bierra and Azeem Victor (out), along with Connor O'Brien. But with that secondary, we won't know until we see them on the field.

One one hand, Rutgers is pretty bad in this context. Then again, it's a tough road spot to open the season for Washington, on a cross-country trip against a foe that likely won't ignite their fire to full-flame mode. Both teams seem a little worse on defense and last season they combined for 61 points. I think things shape up well for this one to go over.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting that the Washington vs. Rutgers game goes over 52 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Washington vs. Rutgers game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!

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