The opening game of the 2020 college football season pits FCS programs Austin Peay vs. Central Arkansas at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama, on , 2020 .Click Hear To Live Stream
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What: FCS College Football
Who: Austin Peay vs. Central Arkansas
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Preview, via the Associated Press:
When Central Arkansas and Austin Peay signed up to play in the first game of the college football season, little did they know how notable it would become.
With a large cloud of uncertainty still looming over the sport, the teams will start the shortened season Saturday night in the Guardian FCS Kickoff Classic before a limited number of fans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are the show in Week Zero and the game to really kick off football, not just college football but also professional football,” Central Arkansas coach Nathan Brown said. “Really the first live football game of the year is a big deal. We know it’s going to be a must-see game.
“We’re representing football players and football coaches across the nation right now. So it’s a big deal and something that we’ve talked about and educated our student-athletes about.”
The Central Arkansas Bears will try to build on a big win in their opener when they take on the UAB Blazers on Thursday night at Legion Field. Central Arkansas beat fellow FCS playoff team Austin Peay in the division’s kickoff game Saturday, while this is FBS foe UAB’s season opener.
The Blazers went 9-5 and were 6-2 in Conference USA last season and had one of the top defenses in the country. Central Arkansas, the defending Southland co-champion, has a top-flight passing game led by all-conference quarterback Breylin Smith.
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET in Birmingham, Ala. UAB is an 18.5-point favorite and the over-under for total points scored is 48 in the latest Central Arkansas vs. UAB odds. Before making your UAB vs. Central Arkansas picks, be sure to see the college football predictions from SportsLine’s Emory Hunt.
Hunt is the founder and CEO of Football Gameplan, which has been supplying analysis for all levels of football since 2007, and he is a former running back at Louisiana-Lafayette. He knows the game from a player’s and coach’s perspective.
The football analyst was SportsLine’s No.
1 college football expert last season. Hunt went 116-79 on college football picks against the spread in 2019, returning a huge profit of $2,976 to his followers. He capped off the year with LSU -5.5 over Clemson in the national championship. Anyone who has followed him is way up.
Now, Hunt has studied UAB vs. Central Arkansas from every angle and has revealed his picks over at SportsLine. Here are the college football odds and trends for Central Arkansas vs. UAB:
Why Central Arkansas can cover
Central Arkansas’ offense can really air it out, and Smith and fellow All-Southland pick Lujuan Winningham are an elite combination. They hooked up for a 10-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left in the 24-17 win against Austin Peay, and Smith threw for 283 yards while Winningham caught six balls for 80 yards and a score in that game. Smith threw for 3,704 yards last season with 32 touchdown passes as the Bears ranked 16th in FCS in passing offense.
Tyler Hudson had five catches for 82 yards in the opener after hauling in 55 for 975 yards and 12 TDs to earn Southland Freshman of the Year honors in 2019. The Bears also got a nice surprise from running back Kierre Crossley, who ran for 110 yards on 12 carries and a TD against Austin Peay.
Why UAB can cover
The Blazers have the defense to make some noise in Conference USA after sharing the West division title in 2019. The unit ranked eighth in FBS in total defense, allowing 301.9 yards per game, with just 183.6 through the air. UAB’s defense ranked third in the nation in allowing opponents to convert on third down just 28.3 percent of the time. The Blazers return 18 starters from a team that will close out its run at Legion Field this year.
The defense is led by linebacker Kristopher Moll, who had 104 tackles and nine sacks in 2019, and defensive end Jordan Smith, who had 10 sacks. Smith and Moll each forced four fumbles, and the unit also will be bolstered by the return of star defensive back Brontae Harris, who missed last season with a foot injury. Quarterback Tyler Johnston III leads an offense that was explosive at times last year, when he threw for 2,250 yards and 17 touchdowns.
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