California played all of its home games at AT&T Park in San Francisco last season, but it returns to Memorial Stadium today for a season opening clash with the Nevada Wolf Pack (3:00pm ET start time, Pac-12 Network). If the odds makers are correct the Golden Bears should enjoy a victorious homecoming as the latest Nevada at California Odds have Jeff Tedford’s squad listed as a -11.5 against the spread favorite (-425 moneyline). The total in today’s Mountain West versus PAC 12 skirmish is set at 57 points.
After nearly going undefeated (13-1) in 2010 Nevada fell back to earth last season, finishing with a 7-6 record after losing the talented offensive duo of Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua. The Wolf Pack will attempt gain a share of the national prominence they enjoyed two seasons ago by knocking off what should be an improved Cal team this afternoon.
Nevada, which closed out last season on a 1-3 run (includes a 17-24 Hawaii Bowl loss to Southern Miss), brings back six starters on offense and six on defense, giving it an opportunity to improve on its 2011 totals (31.7 ppg, 25.2 ppga). Among the returnees is sophomore quarterback Cody Fajardo, who did a respectable job filling Kaepernick’s big shoes as a redshirt freshman. Fajardo completed 68.8 percent of his passes while rushing for 694 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns.
Fajardo represents Nevada’s best opportunity at spoiling Cal’s return to a refurbished Memorial Stadium as he is certain to find some opportunities to exploit the Bears defense. However, Chris Ault’s defense will experience even more difficulty trying to contain a Cal offense that returns last year’s starting quarterback (Zach Maynard), top rusher (Isi Sofele), and leading receiver (Keenan Allen).
Today marks the third meeting between these two schools since 1996. They spilt the last two get-togethers with Cal cruising to a 33-15 win in 1996 and Nevada posting a 52-31 victory in 2010. This is the Wolf Pack’s second year in row to open against a PAC 12 team; Nevada lost 20-69 as a 26 point underdog at Oregon last September.
California is 5-0 both straight up and against the spread in its last five season openers, beating its opposition by an average of 24.8 points per game. The average game score in those five contests was a whopping 64.4 points. This would explain the steam on the total in this game. Right now 96 percent of the money is on today’s game going Over 57.
Free Pick: You guessed it, take the Over 57 in today’s game, but also consider the Bears at -11.5.
Nevada at California Odds:
Nevada Wolf Pack +11.5 (-110), Over 57 (-110), +350 (Moneyline)
California Golden Bears -11.5 (-110), Under 57 (-110), -425 (Moneyline)
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