WE DID IT.
College football season is here. It has been a long summer of tweeting old football clips, writing previews, and betting futures. But this Saturday… we watch teams play meaningful football games. But people are asking,,, is it actually meaningful?? Well, Week Zero is an interesting case…
There’s a common trope with the NFL preseason: everyone says “I’m so excited football is back” then they watch 45 seconds of preseason football and realize it sucks and they don’t care until the regular season. Week Zero is not that. These are meaningful football games that could decide win totals and will tell us a lot about some of these teams that could play significant games down the line. However, there are only six Power Five teams playing and only one matchup between two Power Five teams (and that takes place in Ireland).
Of those Power Five teams, Nebraska is probably the most intriguing. Last year, they had the greatest 3-9 season in CFB history. They went 1-8 in the B1G and of those 8 losses, SEVEN were by one possession and the other was by nine points. That’s eight single-digit losses. They were the classic bet as a dog, fade as a favorite team last year and we made a lot of money off of them. I think we are going to do it again this year backing the Huskers. If you read my Big Ten preview, you know I bet the Huskers to go over their win total of 7.5 games. They will be really intriguing to watch Week Zero.
I have three bets heading into Week Zero weekend. It’s obviously a limited slate but I’m happy with these spots and hopefully will nail a winning card and then we can let it fly come Week One.
Nebraska (-13) vs. Northwestern (Dublin, Ireland) o/u 49.5
This is the biggest game of the weekend so we’ll start here. Two Big Ten teams are headed to Ireland to start off CFB’s new push to promote the game across the pond. If the game was settled by seeing who could drink more Guinness between Pat Fitzgerald and Scott Frost I would honestly be more intrigued but unfortunately, we won’t be getting that. Personally, I would lay with Fitzy -2.5.
I spoke earlier about Nebraska and how much I like them this year. Adding OC Mark Whipple from Pitt and Texas transfer QB Casey Thompson should make this offense much more dynamic than in the Martinez days.
I think the key to this game will be finishing drives. Defensively, Nebraska wasn’t a great unit last year but they held strong in the red zone. Their D finished 84th nationally in defensive efficiency but a stellar 9th in defensive finishing drives. That means trouble for a Northwestern offense that was a near-worst in FBS 126th in finishing drives offensively last year. I think Pat Fitzgerald will make it a priority to shore up this defense that took a step back last year because that is what he has always prided his team on. However, I think that could prevent the Ryan Hilinski-led offense from taking a step forward.
Like I said, I like the Whipple and Thompson additions for Nebraska but as always, these types of changes in CFB can sometimes take a couple of weeks to really start to click. Offensively for Northwestern, there really isn’t much to like. Between those factors and the flight across the Atlantic that involves time change, hotels, and a unique setting, I think the under is the move here. Defenses almost always click earlier in the season than offenses and it’s always hard playing after a dramatic time zone shift as we’ve seen from the NFL in London.
Pick: 1u u50.5 (play to 48.5)
Nevada @ New Mexico State (+9) o/u 50
It’s year one for HC Jerry Kill at NMSU. It will be a tough task with a program that has been one of the worst in FBS over the last couple of years. Kill was previously the HC at Minnesota and more recently was an assistant at Rutgers, VA Tech, and TCU where he was the interim after Gary Patterson’s firing last year. In his first game as interim HC at TCU, he led the Frogs to an upset over 12th-ranked Baylor.
This team is brand new on offense but that is probably for the best. NMSU is yet to name a starting QB for this game but it looks like Diego Pavia will be getting the start. Pavia is a JuCo transfer who won the JuCo national championship last season. Along with a couple of TCU skill position players that transferred with Kill, this offense should look a lot more dynamic. Defensively, they return seven starters in what should be an improved unit with all of that experience.
Now let’s get to Nevada. They are awful. They only return six starters between both sides of the ball and that includes losing Carson Strong who has carried this program the last couple of years. For first-year head coach Ken Wilson this will be a really tough task. I think this team will struggle heavily all season and it won’t be any different here in Week Zero.
Pick: 1.5u NMSU +10 (play to 7.5) (hopefully you got this at 10 when I put it through on the app)
Vanderbilt (-8.5) @ Hawaii o/u 53.5
It’s another year of Vandy being Vandy. The perennial basement of the SEC is in for another tough year. Clark Lea is headed into year two with Vandy and is hoping to see some improvement with 13 returning starters. Luckily they start the season off against a Hawaii team that might be one of the worst teams in all of FBS this year. The Rainbow Warriors return ONE, I repeat, ONE defensive starter from last season. It will be a brand new unit after finishing 113th in total defense last year.
Offensively, they only return four starters and are pretty short at the QB position. Timmy Chang makes his return to the island as the new head coach at Hawaii and I hope he can return this program to what it once was with himself and Colt Brennan at QB but this year is going to be a rough transition. I think Vandy rolls against this less-talented team with no experience to speak of.
Pick: 1.5u Vandy -6.5 (play to -9.5 but hopefully you got under a TD when it came through on the app)
That’s it for Week Zero, folks! I would make sure to go check out the bets I have already placed for Week One before any real movement starts to hit there as well. Before you know it, we are going to be talking SEC, Big Ten, and some major matchups for Week One. But for now, let’s make this a great opening weekend, and let’s start the season off right.