The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers begin their first season as an FBS football program with a home game against the UMass Minutemen. The game is set for Saturday, September 2, at 7:00 EST at Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina. The game can be seen on ESPN3.

By looking at our Week 1 betting odds, Coastal Carolina is listed as a 1.5-point favorite. This is a drastic change after UMass originally opened as 3-point favorites, indicating most of the betting action favors the Chanticleers. This game also has a healthy over/under of 56.5 points.

Coastal Carolina vs. UMass Betting Odds & Vegas Game Preview

For Coastal Carolina, the 2017 season represents a brave new world. The Chanticleers are making the jump to FBS football this season. Head coach Joe Moglia has guided the Chanticleers to a 51-15 record over the past five seasons, including a 10-2 record last season. However, moving up to the FBS level will be a huge challenge.

UMass was in a similar boat to Coastal Carolina just a few years ago, and it’s been a struggle. The Minutemen were 1-11 in 2012 and 2013 and 3-9 in 2014 and 2015 while playing in the MAC. The move to being independent in 2016 didn’t pay off, as UMass went 2-10. Head coach Mark Whipple is now in the fourth year of his second stint at UMass and there is growing pressure on him to turn the Minutemen into a competitive team.

Unfortunately, UMass enter their game with the Chanticleers already 0-1 this season. The Minutemen suffered a heartbreaking loss against Hawaii last weekend, giving up a touchdown with 48 seconds left on the clock to lose 38-35. UMass must now find a way to quickly rebound and get ready to play a Coastal Carolina team that’s excited to kick off the season.

College Football Free Vegas Line Prediction: UMass +1.5

Things may be trending toward the Chanticleers but I’m going to stick with UMass in this game, even if they are now the underdogs. The Minutemen may have lost their opener, but they put up a good fight against a more talented Hawaii team, and so UMass should be able to handle a team like Coastal Carolina.

UMass quarterback Andrew Ford looked far more comfortable in the offense with a year of experience under his belt. He and tight end Adam Breneman have great chemistry, having played together in high school. Breneman lit up Hawaii’s defense for nine catches and 179 yards. Running back Marquis Young also provided a steady presence, rushing for 83 yards on 20 carries and finding the end zone twice against Hawaii.

Coastal Carolina’s defense may not be ready to stop the UMass offense. The Chanticleers are undersized up front, and while their secondary was great at creating takeaways last season, this year’s group is inexperienced. I would expect the Minutemen to have a balanced attack against Coastal Carolina, and I’m not sure there’s anyone on the Chanticleers who can contain a tight end like Breneman.

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Of course, don’t expect the Minutemen to be too impressive on defense. Despite Ed Pinkham coming over from Western Michigan to run the defense, UMass is still working with players who surrendered over 35 points per game last year. 

The question is whether the Chanticleers will be able to take advantage of a porous defense. Due to injuries, Coastal Carolina used six different quarterbacks last season and the team still doesn’t know who will be starting there this season. Josh Stilley, who began last year as the starter before succumbing to injury, and Syracuse transfer Austin Wilson are intriguing possibilities. With the school’s all-time leading rusher De’Angelo Henderson graduating after last season, Coastal Carolina’s quarterback may have a lot on his shoulders this year.

With uncertainty at quarterback and an undersized defense, Coastal Carolina simply isn’t ready to win a game against an FBS opponent right now. UMass isn’t a great team, but they already have one game under their belt, so they should show some improvement in their second game of the season. That’ll be enough to secure a win over Coastal Carolina, making the Minutemen a safe pick to win.