Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Russell Wilson takes over for Scott Tolzein
The UNLV-Wisconsin "rivalry" has been an interesting one (especially when the lights went out in 2002), with these teams playing each other for a few years in a row, then taking a short hiatus before playing each other once again for a home-and-home.
After barely covering 20.5 points last season in a 20-point loss, the Rebels are up to a 35-point underdog.
How can you blame oddsmakers?
UNLV has been one of the worst road teams in recent memory, going 3-32 SU and 5-23 ATS as a road underdog!
Omar Clayton has departed, leaving the QB spot open, but he never did much of anything anyway. It's a young team with just four starters back on the defense but last season was worse as the team was forced to play over a dozen true freshmen who will now be a year more experienced, although UNLV will still probably only win about two games total.
As for the Badgers, their storybook season ended as I expected with a loss to last season's best team (TCU) and although their top RBs are back, a couple of key offensive linemen were drafted into the NFL along with QB Scott Tolzein.
Still, UNLV's defensive line will remain severely undersized in this matchup.
Newcomer but proven and capable quarterback Russell Wilson has arrived in Wisconsin from North Carolina State, but don't automatically expect a blowout from the beginning as the new team might need some time to jell. Don't underestimate how important the Badgers' former offensive linemen were for this team's success last season, and those voids must now be filled.
The Badgers were a 38-point favorite over San Jose last season, a team somewhat comparable to UNLV, and won by just 13 points at home.
Also remember the Badgers got by Arizona State by way of a missed extra point and needed a fake punt to beat Iowa.
Speaking of Arizona State, remember that UNLV, after winning two games each year from 2004-2007, actually shocked the Sun Devils in 2008, winning on the road in September as a 24-point underdog and catching the home team looking ahead to top-ranked Georgia.
I'm not suggesting an upset at Wisconsin by any stretch of the imagination, but merely pointing out that stranger things have happened.
Wisconsin started 0-5 ATS last season and finished 7-0, and a similar result ATS could be in the cards for this season regarding a slow start and strong finish. The Badgers should still be an elite team and might be good enough to win the conference with Ohio State's issues, but they are not the same as last season's team and could be surprised a few times, including a closer-than-expected game with Northern Illinois on Sept. 17th in Chicago in Dave Doeren's return to his old team.
There are nine games slated for college football's opening week which feature point spreads of four touchdowns or more.
Of the nine, this one could be the best opportunity for the underdog, who is severely overdue for a road cover at 0-10 ATS in the last 10, with this being UNLV's third opportunity in that string to cover 35 points and that third consecutive time is usually the charm.
Take UNLV to cover 35 points