Game Time: 2:00 pm ET, Saturday, August 28, 2021
Venue: Bulldog Stadium, Fresno, CA
Where to Watch: CBS Sports
Opening Betting Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Spread: Fresno State -27.5, Connecticut +27.5; Over/Under: 62.5 points
Bet365: Spread: Fresno State -27.5, Connecticut +27.5; Over/Under: 62.5 points
BetMGM: Spread: Fresno State -27.5, Connecticut +27.5; Over/Under: 62.5 points
Previous Season Record
Connecticut Huskies: 2-10 (6th place, AAC American East)
Fresno State Bulldogs: 3-3 (6th place, Mountain West)
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Connecticut Huskies vs Fresno State Bulldogs Preview and Analysis
Connecticut Huskies: 4 game losing streak.
Fresno State Bulldogs: 2 game losing streak.
The University of Connecticut Has had a poor football program over the past few years. Their offense was not the greatest in their last season. The UCONN Huskies football team averaged a 59.7% pass completion rate for 216 passing yards and a little over 1 touchdown per game in their last season. Their rushing offense averaged 129 yards per game on 35 rushing attempts and a little over 1 touchdown. The Fresno State offense was much better than the Huskies in their last season. The Bulldogs averaged a 63.7% passing completion rate for 356 yards per game and 2 touchdowns. In the run game, they averaged 123 rushing yards per game on 36 rush attempts and over 3 touchdowns scored per game.
The UCONN football team did not have a good defensive year in their last season. In the passing game, they allowed an average of about 243 passing yards for over 2 touchdowns per game with a 64% passing completion rate. In the run game, they allowed opponents an average of 224 rushing yards per game on 38 rush attempts for almost 3 rushing touchdowns per game. The Fresno State Bulldogs football team did well on defense last season. They allowed an average of 218 yards per game for 1 touchdown and a 55.7% passing completion rate. On the ground, they allowed an average of 212 rushing yards on 41 rushing attempts for a little over 2 touchdowns per game.
Huskies vs Bulldogs Prediction
The Connecticut Huskies and the Fresno State Bulldogs will be meeting up for their first game of the college football season on Saturday, August 28, 2021. After opting out of the 2020 season, UCONN look to turn their program around after some disappointing previous years. The last time this team played was back in 2019 and that was not a good season for them. They finished that season in last place of the American Athletic Conference (AAC) with a 2-10 record overall. They were 1-5 in both home and road games and finished 0-8 in conference games. They are going up against a Fresno State side that did participate in the 2020 season. They finished last season in 6th place of the Mountain West Conference (MWC) with a 3-3 record overall in a shortened football schedule. They were 1-1 in home games and 2-2 on the road, all of their games played were within the conference. Both of these teams have some returning players for this season but both also have a lot of new faces at some spots.
The UCONN Huskies are carrying over a 4-game losing streak from the 2019 season. They are looking to turn their program around after going a combined 3-21 over their last 2 seasons played. They opted out of last year's season but that does not mean they took a year off. Part of the reason for the awful seasons the past few years is due to the experience of their starters. The Huskies had a lot of freshman starters and first-time collegiate players thrusted into starting positions in their last season, causing them to get steamrolled on many occasions. Those players that decided to stick with the team over the opted out season did not get to use it as a break though. These players have been hard at work all year in the weightroom building up muscle and just fine-tuning their on field football skills. These players that were not ready when they were launched into starting positions have certainly worked hard and learned from those valuable in-play experiences. Just the mentality of the team's locker room says it all, they are tired of losing and these players believe that their season will be turned around this year. For one, they have a lot of freshman talent this year that likely will not have to play in a game before they are ready. They have some key returning players as well such as Ian Swenson, Kevon Jones, Omar Fortt, and Travis Jones. These are all key players on the defense that have that experience from 2019 and have the chemistry of having played together as well. The Huskies also have their quarterback returning, which will be important as he already is familiar with their system. They were also able to acquire one of the country's top kicking prospects Joe McFadden. He chose to join the team because of the proposal made to him that they will turn the tide this year and he could be a key piece in that. This is clearly a team that has bought into the program and has serious belief in themselves that they can win games, and that will be very important for them this season from a mental standpoint.
Fresno State are coming into this game carrying over a 2-game losing streak from last season. They will have their eyes set on a much larger goal of winning the Mountain West after a mediocre season where they finished right at the .500 mark. The upside for the Bulldogs is that they have a lot of their players from last year returning for another season. Most importantly, their quarterback, running backs, and a few wide receivers are returning so they will have lots of reliability from the experience at those positions. They also have all of their defensive backs returning which will give some good consistency in their secondary. It is their offensive and defensive lines that have a lot of new faces and will be vulnerable to weakness. One thing that is big when it comes to those lines is the chemistry of the players and how they all mesh together. With new faces comes unfamiliarity with your teammates so learning each other's tendencies will be important to how these two lines work out together when all is said and done. The Bulldogs are in a very good position to make a good run this season with a lot of talent and experience on their roster. How these new players will mesh in reality will be the big key to their success this season or the downfall depending on their performance. Considering the skill at the other positions though, this Bulldogs team is set up nicely to have a winning season.
Fresno State is the much better side in this one between talent and experience but, it is the Huskies that have the heart and passion to put up a good fight in this game. Fresno State will likely win this game but there is definitely some value on the Huskies as they are a team with a good mentality and believe in their ability to win games. With such a large spread, the Huskies might be worth a look here ATS.
Huskies Bulldogs Prediction: Our NCAAF Pick for Saturday, Aug 28, 2021 (2:00pm ET start time) is Bulldogs 45 Huskies 24.
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Connecticut Huskies: None
Fresno State Bulldogs: None
Players to Watch
Connecticut Huskies: Jack Zergiotis is one player to watch in this match-up as he is one of the returning players for the Huskies. He already has a few college games under his belt from his first year on the team. He knows the system and will be a big piece to this offense's ability to move the ball down the field. Nate Carter is another player to watch as he is not a returning player but this is a guy that the coach has a lot of faith in this year. He has shown a lot of character in the off-season with his work ethic and everyone is excited to see what he brings to the field in a real game.
Fresno State Bulldogs: Quarterback Jake Haener is one player to watch on the Bulldogs as he is a returning player with a lot of experience. He is the only quarterback at Fresno State that has taken a snap at the college level and he is coming off a solid season with over 2,000 yards passing and 15 touchdowns in just 6 games. Ronnie Rivers is another player to watch as he will be returning for his 5th season this year and has a lot of skill and experience that he brings to this team.
“Me personally, I was a part of the worst defense in college football [in 2018]. It’s never getting back to that stage, never, ever letting that happen again because that’s very embarrassing, to play with the worst defense. So we just have that chip on our shoulder, and we’re just going to keep fighting until the fourth quarter is over.” - Kevon Jones showing his determination to help improve this defense drastically.
“It's been a long camp, so I think in some of the guys’ minds, they’re like, ‘Is this game ever gonna come?’ I think that's all a positive because we have had more time with our guys and more time to sit in the film room together and talk through things and get to know our guys, the time we missed last year just sitting around before a meeting.” - Kalen DeBoer on his team’s mindset coming into the game after a covid-19 restricted season.
Projected Starting Lineups
J. Zergiotis (QB)
K. Mensah (RB)
N. Carter (RB)
H. Maurisseau (WR)
C. Ross (WR)
J. Rose (TE)
C. Lundt (RT)
C. Haynes (RG)
S. Walker (C)
D. Niedrowski (LG)
R. Van DeMark (LT)
Fresno State Bulldogs
J. Haener (QB)
R. Rivers (RB)
J. Mims (RB)
J. Cropper (WR)
J. Kelly (WR)
K. Wheatfall (WR)
J. Rodriguez (TE)
D. Bull (LT)
M. Vavao (LG)
M. Smith (C)
B. Schmidt (RG)
A. Akingbulu (RT)
Connecticut Huskies: Head Coach Randy Edsall (16th season, 4th consecutive)
Fresno State Bulldogs: Head Coach Kalen DeBoer (2nd season)