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College Football Games of the Week: Week 0

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After an offseason that seemed like it lasted an eternity, college football is finally back this week. While not a full slate of action, Week 0 will offer us a little taste of the sport we all love.

 

This week we are looking at the biggest matchups that provide us with the best money-making opportunities across college football. After breaking down this week’s board, these are the lines where I see the largest edges in the market.

Nebraska vs. Northwestern

(Nebraska -13, O/U 49.5, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Nebraska may have been the best 3-9 team of all time last season… but they were still a 3-9 team. Scott Frost has somehow managed to keep hold of his job in Lincoln but will need positive results to stay.

Fortunately for him, the Cornhuskers added QB Casey Thompson from Texas in the transfer portal. Also joining the team is offensive coordinator Mark Whipple from Pittsburgh, where he turned Kenny Pickett into a first-round quarterback. This year’s team should have a high-powered offense with Thompson, Whipple and seven returning starters on the unit. The defense, on the other hand, returns only five starters.

As 11-point favorites last season, Nebraska demolished Northwestern by a score of 56-7. 

Ryan Hilinski returns under center this year for Northwestern. They hope that he can improve on 2021’s season when the Wildcat offense averaged a paltry 16.6 PPG. Having nine starters returning to this unit should lead to improvement.

The defense wasn’t any better last season, allowing 430 yards per game and 29 points per game, after being the driving force of Northwestern’s success for years.

On both sides, you’ll notice that each team should have a better offense than last season, while neither defense is experienced. As of right now the total for this game is 49.5 (-110) at DraftKings, which is too low. I expect that the Cornhuskers will come out with a heavy passing attack and Northwestern will be playing catch-up, leading to both sides lighting up the scoreboard in Dublin, Ireland.

Pick: Over 49.5 (-110). Take to 52.5.

 

Wyoming vs. Illinois

(Illinois -10.5, O/U 43.5 , FanDuel Sportsbook)

Bret Bielema’s first year in Champaign returned a 5-7 season, which was a major improvement on what Illinois football has been for most of the last decade. Quarterback performance hindered Illinois in 2021, both from poor play and injuries. This year, Tommy DeVito will step in as the starting quarterback after having some productive games in his career at Syracuse. The Illini return their three leading rushers from 2021, as well as their top two receivers and both tackles. Their defense is underrated as they return six starters from a unit that allowed only 18.8 points per game in Big Ten play last year.

Wyoming went 7-6 in 2021, but this year they should expect a bit of a rebuilding year. Craig Bohl will have to replace an enormous amount of talent, including his starting quarterback, 1,000-yard running back, top two receivers, the entire interior offensive line and 11 of his top 15 tacklers on defense. Bohl’s tenure at Wyoming has been characterized by strong defense and rushing attacks. However, it’s a tall ask to expect them to be as competitive as years’ past.

These two programs seem to be heading in opposite directions for 2022. Illinois appears to be putting together a solid mid-level program while Wyoming is going to be trying to piece everything back together. With the losses for Wyoming, I expect Illinois to be able to physically dominate Wyoming, who will likely not be able to pass well enough to play from behind.

On our odds page, you can see that everywhere else has the spread at 11 while FanDuel is at 10.5. I will be taking Illinois to cover this spread easily.

The pick: Illinois -10.5 (-110)

Vanderbilt vs. Hawaii

(Vanderbilt -8.5, O/U 54, DraftKings Sportsbook)

After the resignation of Todd Graham and the departure of most of Hawaii’s starters, Timmy Chang will step into the head coaching role for his alma mater with a large rebuild ahead of him. The Rainbow Warriors return just four offensive starters and two on defense from a team that went 6-7 in 2021. Chang has not yet announced who will be starting at QB for Hawaii this week either, which presents opportunity.

Vanderbilt projects to once again have one of the worst defenses in FBS. They return seven starters from a defense that allowed 458 yards per game last year. This wasn’t just limited to SEC play as 1-11 UConn scored a season-high 28 points against the Commodores and 3-9 Stanford put up 41 points, which was their second-highest total of the season by one point.

Vanderbilt should have the talent and experience advantages, but I’m just not able to back Vandy. Hawaii should be able to exceed their team total of 22.5 points Saturday night.

The pick: Hawaii Over 22.5 (-125)

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