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California and Hawaii will redefine the meaning of “neutral-site game” when they travel to Sydney, Australia, to kick off the season.
The Golden Bears are coming off an 8-5 SU and 6-7 ATS campaign, capped by a 55-36 victory over Air Force as a 5.5-point favorite in the Armed Forces Bowl. Meanwhile, Hawaii is coming off a disastrous 3-10 SU and ATS season that included a nine-game SU losing streak (1-8 ATS), dropping all but one of those contests by double digits.
But at least the Warriors aren’t carrying that skid into 2016, snapping the slump with a 28-26 victory over Louisiana-Monroe as 7-point home chalk in last season’s finale.
Since this week’s game isn’t the norm when it comes to an opening line – the matchup has been on betting boards for some time – sportsbooks have already seen some action, so there’s already been some line movement.
“The early bettors have sided with the Rainbow Warriors, moving the spread down a full 2 points,” said Scott Cooley, odds consultant for offshore site Bookmaker.eu, which opened Cal at -22 and has since moved to -20. “We suspect as the week progresses that Cal backers will come out.”
At The Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip, it’s been a similar story for the game, which has a 10 p.m. Eastern kickoff on Friday night – which is Saturday afternoon in Australia.
“All the money is on Hawaii,” said Scott Shelton, shift manager at The Mirage. “There is almost zero interest in Cal at this point. And it’s all at (Hawaii +20). We’re low there, too. There are some 20.5s and 21s around town.”
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.