LB looks at the NCAAF Week Zero fixtures and picks his best bets and upsets of the College Football opening weekend.
There’s not a lot to get excited about from a betting perspective here. Western Kentucky kicks things off and they should run out comfortable winners, as should Utah State and North Carolina. They could cover a combined spread of 100 points between them – although they probably won’t – but either way these are not my kind of games. There are three standout fixtures this weekend that I want to bet on.
Nebraska @ Northwestern (Dublin, Ireland)
Nebraska is the worst kept secret in the college football betting world. Everyone knows the Cornhuskers are primed for a big season and the bookies have taken note. Despite only picking up three wins last term Nebraska are expected to get 8 in 2022, one of which being the first installment of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic in Ireland (a game I will be at). There is no doubt Nebraska has upgraded in key positions, and the arrival of Casey Thompson is especially impressive. But will they click early? Nebraska are often priced on their name and not the roster but this feels like a big moment for the Huskers. As bad as Nebraska was last season they still won this fixture 56-7. This game being played on a different continent is a wildcard though so bet cautiously.
Wyoming @ Illinois
There is no doubt that Illinois improved last year but the loss of talent is a concern. The arrival of Syracuse QB Tommy DeVitto should certainly ease any growing pains and a bowl berth remains a realistic target. However, if that is to happen then a win here is a must. Wyoming has a ton of production to replace with a raft of key seniors graduating and 12 losses to the Transfer Portal. The arrival of Peasley should help the offense and the Cowboys did impress in Spring Practice. The defense is a problem though. The Fighting Illini tend to put on a show at Memorial Stadium in these sorts of games so I’ll take a high scoring home win.
Vanderbilt @ Hawaii
This game will tell us a lot about the (perceived) gap between The SEC and the rest of the FBS. There is no doubt Vanderbilt are moving in the right direction but they are clearly not up to the standard of their own conference. A big win here would only reaffirm the SEC’s status. That being said, I am not so sure they will win here, nevermind cover. This feels like a game where Vandy could underestimate Hawaii due to their widly broadcast offseason problems. Despite an undoubtedly bad end to the season Hawaii has plenty of talent and the return of legendary QB Timmy Chang as HC can steady the ship. This might be heart over head but The Warriors have much more to play for here. The market has moved towards The Commodores late on, and they are now laying 9.5 points on the road. I am not sure I would make them favorites, nevermind by two scores. Hawaii will have teething issues as the program looks to start a fresh – but I am happy to put my money on them starting with a bang.
Wyoming @ Illinois – Illinois -14 & Over 43 Points (+265 or 5/3)
Vanderbilt @ Hawaii – Hawaii +9.5 (-110 or 10/11)
Vanderbilt @ Hawaii – Hawaii moneyline win (+300 or 3/1)
Nebraska @ Northwestern – Northwestern +11 & Over 52 Points (+265 or 5/3)