College Football Odds, Picks: Bet the Under in Holy Cross vs. UConn (Saturday, Sept. 4)

College Football Odds, Picks: Bet the Under in Holy Cross vs. UConn (Saturday, Sept. 4) article feature image
Credit:

Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Head coach Randy Edsall of the UConn Huskies.

  • UConn opened its season on the wrong foot last week, but it gets another chance when it takes on Holy Cross on Saturday.
  • The Huskies don't have a very explosive offense, so the under could be in play in this matchup.
  • Check out Kyle Remillard's full betting guide with odds, picks, and predictions for the game.

College Football Week 1 Odds

Holy Cross vs. UConn

Saturday, Sept. 4
12 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network

Holy Cross Odds

Spread Total Moneyline
+2.5
-106
51.5
-105o / -115u
+134

UConn Odds

Spread Total Moneyline
-2.5
-130
51.5
-105o / -115u
-164
Odds via FanDuel as of Saturday.

Holy Cross will travel less than an hour to take on the University of Connecticut on Saturday for the 31st meeting between these programs.

Head coach Randy Edsall of UConn isn’t sitting comfortably after winning just one game against an FBS opponent since 2018. The heat was turned up after getting demolished in Week Zero when the Huskies looked rusty in their first game in more than 600 days.

Holy Cross won the Patriot League’s first-ever conference championship in the shortened 2020 spring FCS season. The Crusaders won their only two regular-season games to secure a place in the championship, ultimately defeating Bucknell.

This game highlights teams who want to establish the run and looks to be UConn’s best chance at securing its first win as an independent school.


Holy Cross Crusaders

The Crusaders played just four games in the 2020 Spring FCS season, winning all three in the Patriot League that secured them a bid to the FCS tournament. Holy Cross saw its season end when it suffered a 31-3 loss to South Dakota State in the first round of the tournament.

Holy Cross is the preseason favorite to make it three Patriot League titles in a row and returns many key defensive pieces to assist in making that happen.


Crusaders Offense

Holy Cross has a run-heavy offense led by sophomore quarterback Matthew Sluka. He averaged just 5.3 yards per pass attempt where he threw for 187 total yards. The dual-threat quarterback proved a bigger threat with his legs, averaging the same 5.3 per carry but added four touchdowns.

The Crusaders have two strong running backs to compliment Sluka in Peter Oliver and Jonathan Abrams. The trio combined for 164 rushing yards per game, but Oliver was the most efficient averaging 7.1 yards per carry.

There wasn’t much of a passing threat from the offense last season, which saw its leading receiver only have 72 yards total in the four games.

Holy Cross will lean on its rushing attack and chew clock against the Huskies.


Crusaders Defense

The Crusaders return All-Patriot defenders in defensive end Benton Whitley, linebacker Jacob Dobbs and safety John Smith. Whitley had two sacks, Dobbs led the team with 41 tackles, and Smith led the team with three interceptions. They return to a defense that has allowed only 15.7 points per game over the last two years.

Holy Cross has been solid against the run game, yielding just 3.4 yards per carry last season. The run defense is going to be important in this matchup, as UConn is going to look to feed its workhorse running back Kevin Mensah.

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Connecticut Huskies

The Huskies looked competitive in the first quarter against Fresno State, holding it to just 32 yards of offense. They came back to earth in the second quarter, allowing 24 points that included back-to-back, one-play touchdown drives of 61 and 86 yards.

UConn was shutout, totaling just 107 yards of offense, while the defense allowed 45 points and 538 yards.

It looks like the same UConn team we’ve seen go 3-21 since 2018 with only wins over Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Wagner.


Huskies Offense

Connecticut has an offensive TARP rating of 63%, and a large portion of that is thanks to Mensah. He’s the workhorse for this offense that rushed for more than 1,000 yards in both 2018 and 2019 seasons.

He was bottled up by Fresno State in the first game where he rushed for just 31 yards on 11 carries. The Huskies’ offense averaged just 1.1 rushing yards per carry on its 31 attempts.

The starting-quarterback battle was an open competition, but head coach Randy Edsall gave the starting nod to Jack Zergiotis against Fresno State. In the 10 games Zergiotis played in 2019, he threw 11 interceptions with just nine touchdowns.

He wasn’t much better in the season opener averaging 2.4 yards per attempt and a fumble that Fresno took to the house.

UConn couldn’t move the chains, averaging a total of 1.7 yards per play. The Huskies only converted two of their 16 third down attempts in the game.


Huskies Defense

UConn’s defense is one of the worst in the country, holding a SP+ ranking of 127th in the nation.

The Huskies hold a defensive TARP rating of just 47% and it showed in Week Zero where they were gashed by Fresno State. They were salvageable against the run, allowing 4.1 yards per carry. However, they were gashed on big plays through the air, allowing 9.8 yards per attempt.

The young secondary that involves nearly all underclassmen was exposed through the pass game, looking horrific in coverage.


Holy Cross vs.  UConn Betting Pick

It was clear Fresno State outclassed UConn, but now the Huskies will get an opponent who is more to their caliber in Holy Cross.

The identity for each team is already known and, clearly, they both want to run the ball.

The Huskies’ offense couldn’t have shown more rust in week zero, averaging 1.7 yards per play in the game. They lacked explosiveness and the longest play on offense was for only 13 yards.

In the spring 2020 season, Holy Cross ran the ball twice as often as it passed it. Zergiotis averaged 2.4 yards per attempt and hasn’t proven he can consistently move the ball with his arm.

I’m playing the under of 53.5 in a game that will be a battle of two teams grinding out first downs.

Pick: Under 53.5 (Play to 52)

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