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Fresno battles Rutgers

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It's opening night of the college football season and with 17 games on the board tonight, bettors are lining up with their freshly minted bankrolls to get down on the action. It's important to remember to take it easy at the beginning of a football season and not look for action on all the games because before you know it, that fresh new bankroll will be burned through. That being said, there is one play in the Rutgers/Fresno State game I really like tonight.

Fresno State is coming off a 9-4 SU season but failed to put the exclamation point on the year with a strong performance in their Bowl game. In fact, the Bulldogs flat out laid an egg in that game vs. SMU as Fresno State were -13.5 favorites in that one and ended up losing 43-10. It takes a long time for a disappointing loss like that to escape the memory and of the 15 returning starters on the team this year, you can bet that they've spent all summer being anxious for redemption. Well, the Bulldogs are double-digit favorites to start the year this season against a Rutgers team that really stumbled down the stretch last year.

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Rutgers started 2012 with seven straight wins before losing four of their final six games against tougher conference foes. The Scarlet Knights also lost seven guys to the NFL draft this past April which makes it tough to replace talent like that. They've got 12 returning starters in their lineup this season but only five on defense and it will be that side of the ball that will get them in trouble tonight. Don't get me wrong, Rutgers will be able to put up some points and move the ball, their big concern is whether or not they can stop Fresno State's attack.

Prior to that humiliating Bowl defeat, Fresno State had scored at least 42 points in their previous five games and were just lighting up scoreboards everywhere. The Bulldogs do not mind getting out and playing fast because they believe that their offense can hold its own against anyone. Often times the Bulldogs need all those points because their defense is quite hit or miss, allowing 32 or more in three of their last five (including Bowl). A strong offense and inconsistent defense is not a great formula for laying double digits, but it is a solid method for getting 'overs.'

That's why the play tonight on this game is to go over 54.5 points. Fresno State's offense is hungry to get back out there and give the scoreboard operator a workout after that no-show in their Bowl game. Five of the seven Rutgers NFL draftees came on the defensive side, including their starting middle linebacker, so there is quite a bit of inexperience on that side of the ball. Fresno should take no time in exploiting the mismatches in their favor out there and could easily have 20+ points by halftime.

Rutgers understands that they'll have to push the ball downfield in order to have a chance against Fresno's high octane offense and the Scarlet Knights won't shy away from that. They scored 23 or more in their first four road games last season and will likely hit that mark again tonight.

  
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