Cal favored over Hawaii as college football season begins in Australia


The California Golden Bears will begin the post-Jared Goff era as big betting favorites against the Hawaii Warriors at sportsbooks monitored by in the opener of the college football season on Friday night down at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

The Pac-12’s Golden Bears are listed as 20-point betting favorites against the Mountain West’s  Warriors entering this unique matchup in Australia. California went 8-5 straight-up and 6-7 against the spread last season with Goff before he became the Los Angeles Rams’ No. 1 overall choice.

California is not completely barren at quarterback. Davis Webb is a graduate transfer who was a two-year starter at Texas Tech, whose four-receiver passing attack is the template for the system Bears coach Sonny Dykes teaches.

California is 7-2 SU in their last nine season openers. Since 2011, they are 7-0 SU and 5-2 ATS when favored by at least 17 points, but that includes a 3-0 ATS mark when the spread is 20 or more. The Golden Bears are 7-3 SU and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games against Mountain West opponents according to the OddsShark College Football Database.

Cal’s rushing attack is diverse with the rotation of Khalfani Muhummad, Vic Enwere and Tre Watson. The Golden Bears have lost their top six receivers (by yardage), but freshman wide receiver Demetris Robertson is a five-star recruit who is expected to make an impact quickly. Defensive tackle James Looney is an imposing run-stopper.

The Warriors, due in part to a financially strapped athletic department, are long removed from the heady days of 2007 when they had an unbeaten regular season and played in the Sugar Bowl. Hawaii was 3-10 both SU and ATS in 2015.

The Warriors do boast 1,100-yard rusher Paul Harris and a senior QB, Ikaika Woolsey. Exactly how rookie head coach Nick Rolovich and a new Hawaii coaching staff deploy them remains to be seen, but Hawaii has enough experience (eight returning starters) to be competitive. The Warriors’ defense ranked 104th of the 127 FBS teams last season.

Hawaii is 2-7 SU and 7-2 ATS in its last nine matchups against Pac-12 teams. Six of those nine games went under the total. Hawaii, which boasts Sydney native DE Max Hendrie on its roster, is also 6-4 ATS in its last 10 games as an underdog of 17 or more points.

The total is set at 63 points for Friday’s Cal vs. Hawaii matchup. The total has gone under in 13 of Hawaii’s last 18 games with a closing total of 63.0 or more. The total has gone under in seven of California’s last 10 games.