Nevada vs California Picks and Predictions: Offenses Show Up in Opener

The Wolf Pack are coming off one of their best seasons in recent memory and return nearly all of their top offensive players, including QB Carson Strong. Will it be enough for them to cover as a 3.5-point dog? Find out in our Nevada vs. California picks.

Last Updated: Sep 2, 2021 10:45 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Carson Strong Nevada Wolf Pack NCCAF
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The Nevada Wolf Pack will be looking to build upon one of their strongest seasons in recent memory after finishing with a 7-2 record a year ago. They'll be on a mission to prove that last year was no fluke.

The California Bears, meanwhile, are anxious to play a full schedule on the heels of a strange 1-3 season featuring relatively few positive takeaways. 

Will the Wolf Pack be able to add a victory over a Power 5 team to their resume? Find out with our free college football betting picks and predictions for Nevada vs. California on Saturday, September 4.

Nevada vs California game info

Location: Califonia Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA
Date: Saturday, September 4, 2021
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

Nevada vs California odds

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Nevada vs California betting preview


Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our NCAA football weather info.

Key injuries

Nevada: None.
California: Blake Antzoulatos LB (Out), Craig Woodson S (Out), Dylan Jemtegaard OL (Out), Stanley McKenzie OL (Questionable), Will Craig OL (Questionable), Mo Iosefa LB (Probable).
Find our latest NCAA football injury reports.

Betting trend to know

California is 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games when playing as the favorite. Find more NCAA betting trends for Nevada vs. California.

Against the spread (ATS) pick

The Wolf Pack return 20 starters after a successful 2020 campaign. They’ll be led by quarterback Carson Strong, one of the top QBs in college football, and a potential future first-round NFL draft pick. They return their entire line and nearly every skill player. Add in the fact that they’ll welcome back 2019 leading receiver Elijah Cooks, who missed all but one quarter of 2020 due to injury, and this appears to be a potent offensive attack.

Despite fielding a solid defense in 2020 that allowed only 23.3 points per game, the Wolf Pack dedicated significant resources toward improving on that side of the ball. They’ll welcome four Division I transfers to the fold in hopes to become a more well-rounded team.

California, on the other hand, is a defensive-oriented team under head coach Justin Wilcox. It will run its offense through veteran quarterback Chase Garbers but will hope to see improvement after averaging only 319.5 yards of total offense a year ago. That’s been the knock on the Bears for a while now, and are there any signs that they’ll show significant progress on that side of the ball soon?

They do return a lot of experience and production, including 18 starters, and are a well-coached football team that is tough to play against. 

However, nearly every single game on Nevada’s schedule looks winnable this year, and this is no exception. This is a dangerous enough offense to stay in any game, and the hook gives us nice insurance in case the Bears win by a field goal. Nevada is not a team to play against without good reason, and we won’t be anxious to do that here in what should be a close game. Take the points with Nevada.

PREDICTION: Nevada +3.5 (-110)

Over/Under pick

At first glance, it would appear as though these two teams would be a good Under play. Nevada will look to throw the ball early and often and the strength of the Bears’ defense lies in their secondary. California is not known for its prolific offensive tendencies.

Upon further examination, however, there’s a strong case to be made for the Over. 

Nevada’s passing offense may be held somewhat in check, but the team is going to score points regardless. The Wolf Pack routinely scored above what opposing defenses were averaging last year, dropping 26 against San Diego State (16.7 points per game allowed) and 37 on Wyoming (17.8 points per game allowed). They’re simply too good and too experienced not to put up points. 

The Bears, meanwhile, should see their offense move better against a Group of 5 defense, and improvement should be expected in Year 2 under offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.

The total is simply too low to play the Under. We’ll take the Over and bank on Nevada scoring points and trading leads in a back-and-forth affair.

PREDICTION: Over 52.5 (-110)

Nevada vs California betting card

  • Nevada +3.5 (-110)
  • Over 52.5 (-110)

Picks made on 8/31/2021 at 9:57 p.m. ET

NCAA parlays

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