Game of the Day: California vs. Hawaii

California Golden Bears vs Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (+20, 64.5)

Game played at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia

California begins the post-Jared Goff era Friday as the Golden Bears kick off the college football season against Hawaii in Sydney, Australia. With Goff looking to fulfill expectations as the No. 1 overall pick of the Los Angeles Rams, Cal coach Sonny Dykes has turned to 6-foot-5 quarterback Davis Webb, a graduate transfer from Texas Tech.

While Cal boasts plenty of experience at offensive line and running back, the Golden Bears are replacing their top six receivers from last season, when they won their first five games but finished 8-5. Dykes’ high-scoring offense should put on a show for the Australian fans with Davis throwing to a talented new group of receivers, including freshmen Melquise Stovall and Demetris Robertson along with junior Chad Hansen. For the Golden Bears to contend in the Pac-12, they’ll need improved results from a defense that has to replace safety Damariay Drew (season-ending knee injury) and linebacker Hardy Nickerson, who transferred to Illinois after leading the team in tackles last season. Cal should face little resistance against a Hawaii team that was picked to finish last in the West Division of the Mountain West but hopes to rebuild under new coach Nick Rolovich, who started at quarterback for the Rainbow Warriors in 2000-01.

TV: 10 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Cal -20

LINE HISTORY: Cal opened as 22.5-point favorites a month before the game but steady money on Hawaii has dropped the line down to -20 on Thursday evening. The total opened at 61 and has gradually been bet up to 64.5 at publication time of this preview. View complete line history here.

WEATHER: There is a chance of a morning shower in Sydney on Saturday morning (their time) but it is expected to clear up by afternoon kickoff. Temperatures should be perfect for football in the low 70’s with not much wind to speak of.

WHAT SHARPS SAY: “California lost a lot of playmakers from an offense that averaged 38 points per game over the last two seasons.  Quarterback Jared Goff (#1 NFL pick) will be extremely difficult to replace, and with only 4 returning starters, the Golden Bears’ offense is set to regress sharply in 2016.”

“Hawaii is in their first year under head coach Nick Rolovich, but they return 15 starters, including 9 on the offensive side of the ball.  The Rainbow Warriors should be much improved from their 3-10 SU team of a season ago, especially on offense where they only averaged 17.6 points and 316 yards per game last season.” — Covers Expert Steve Merril.

WHAT BOOKS SAY: “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.”

ABOUT CALIFORNIA (2015: 8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS, 5-8 O/U): New offensive coordinator Jake Spavital steps into an enviable position with talent at every position including wide receiver, where Stovall is expected to make an immediate impact.  “He’s a very electric, explosive guy. Very hard to tackle,” Dykes told the San Jose Mercury News. “He gives us a different dimension. We’ve had a lot of good receivers around here, but Melquise gives us something a little different. You can throw a slant and it turns into a 70-yard touchdown. You throw a screen and you have a 40- or 50-yard gain.” Cal continues to have question marks on defense, where junior cornerback Darius Allensworth leads an inexperienced unit that allowed 30.7 points per game last season.

ABOUT HAWAII (2015: 3-10 SU, 3-10 ATS, 7-6 O/U): Fifth-year senior quarterback Ikaika Woolsey, named the starter after throwing five touchdowns with six interceptions in part-time duty last year, needs to take care of the ball against a Cal defense that tied for 13th in the nation in turnovers recorded with 27. Hawaii figures to rely on its run game behind an impressive offensive line and a trio of quality running backs in senior Steven Lakalaka, junior Diocemy Saint Juste and senior Paul Harris, who last season became the team’s second back in the last 23 years to rush for 1,000 yards (1,132). The opener could be a rough introduction for new defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa, whose young and inexperienced group will be hard-pressed to slow down Cal’s explosive offense.

CHEERLEADER WAR:

TRENDS:

* Golden Bears are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games in August.
* Rainbow Warriors are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 vs. Pac-12.
* Rainbow Warriors are 1-10 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
* Over is 8-2 in Golden Bears’ last 10 neutral site games.
* Over is 5-0 in Rainbow Warriors’ last 5 games overall.


COVERS CONSENSUS:
Hawaii is picking up the majority of the
wagers on this game with 55 percent of the picks on Covers. Over is
grabbing 69 percent of the totals selections. View complete consensus data here.

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