Thursday Six-Pack: Previewing College Football’s Opening Night



Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT


Las Vegas Line: Connecticut +3.5; O/U 52.5

Kevin Ollie’s UConn Huskies stumbled in 2015, but you can never count out this program from Storrs — especially not in a renewal of an old, Big East rivalry with Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats.

Oh, sorry. You can understand the assumption that a spotlighted UConn-Villanova game is on the hardwood. This is indeed football, even though Connecticut won two basketball championships in the time since its football counterpart reached a bowl game. But the reason to tune in isn’t UConn — even if noted Energy Vampire Van Helsing Bob Diaco is on the sideline.

Villanova is a national championship-caliber team in the Football Championship Subdivision, returning the 2014 Walter Payton Award-winning quarterback, John Robertson, and All-America linebacker Don Cherry.

All told, Wildcats head coach Andy Talley has his best team since the 2009 national championship squad. Robertson is a strong candidate to match Appalachian State legend Armanti Edwards as the only two-time Payton Award winners ever.

UConn’s typically anemic offense should struggle to mount an attack against a Villanova defense that ranked No. 22 in the FCS in points allowed a season ago. Likewise, the Huskies will be hard-pressed to slow the dual-threat Robertson.

Expect this to be the first FCS defeat of an FBS opponent in 2015.

MY PICK: Villanova 35, UConn 17