This Saturday the Ole Miss Rebels (2-1) will host the No. 23 ranked California Golden Bears in early morning matchup. Kickoff is set for 12:00 EST at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and will be televised on ESPNU.
Oddsmakers opened this game with Cal as a 1.5-point favorite, but the underdog role has flipped side. Line is now sitting at Ole Miss -2.5. Total for this one opened at 44.5 and has been bet down to 41.5.
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Ole Miss vs Cal Vegas Betting Line & Game Preview
California Golden Bears
It’s been an impressive start to the 2019 season for the Golden Gears, but it’s not out of the ordinary. In fact, Cal has now started out 3-0 all 3 years under head coach Justin Wilcox. The big difference in 2019 is they not only beat a ranked team, they beat No. 14 Washington on the road 20-19 as a 13-point dog.
They would go on to only beat North Texas 23-17 as a 14-point home favorite in Week 3, but given the win they were coming off of and this road game against a SEC foe on deck, it’s understandable they don’t perform their best in that spot. That’s also a good North Texas program.
Defensively the Golden Bears are the real deal, the problem is the offense is not. Cal had just 278 total yards against a North Texas defense that isn’t great. Mean Green allowed 49 points and 503 yards to SMU. You have to wonder how long the defense can carry them?
Ole Miss Rebels
The Rebels have won back-to-back games after that opening week loss at Memphis, but I still think people aren’t quite sure on this team. Ole Miss easily won and covered in a 31-17 win at home over Arkansas as a 5-point favorite, but then had their hands full with SE Louisiana last week. Rebels were a 32.5-point favorite and went into the 4th quarter leading 34-29 (won 40-29).
Rebels offense is centered around the trio of quarterback Matt Corral, running back Scottie Phillips and wide out Elijah Moore. It’s been a lot better on offense after a shocking 10-point effort against Memphis in the opener.
The defense was really good the first two games, before that lackluster showing against SE Louisiana. Given Cal’s struggles on offense, hard to not see them playing well at home.
These two teams recently played in non-conference action in 2017. Cal won that matchup 27-16 as a 7-point home dog and the game didn’t come anywhere close to the total of 68.
Vegas Free NCAAF Betting Pick: Cal +2.5
My early lean here would be to go against the line move and back the Golden Bears as a 2.5-point road dog. This goes against what I typically would do with a ranked team getting points against an unranked opponent. I almost always take the unranked team in this spot.
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Usually the public is all over the ranked team in this spot. That’s not the case. Close to 60% of the early action is on Ole Miss. I also think there’s people that simply see an SEC team vs a Pac-12 team and blindly take the SEC team.
The other thing is that even though Cal is ranked and we know they got a great defense, it’s hard to back a team that doesn’t wow you offensively. I get it. However, we did see Ole Miss manage just 173 total yards and 13 first downs against Memphis. Keep in mind they were outgained by almost 200-yards in that game, so it wasn’t as close as the 15-10 final.
Another thing here is I think this game means more to Cal, as a win over an SEC team would be huge and it would also be the first time they got to 4-0 under Wilcox. Ole Miss can say they can’t wait for this game, but there’s one team they can’t wait to play every year and that’s Alabama. They go to Tuscaloosa next week.
They were in this same spot when they lost at Cal as a 7-point favorite in 2017 with a road game against Alabama on deck. Give me Cal +2.5.