It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for. College Football is back. Week 0 is headlined by Nebraska vs Northwestern in Dublin, Ireland, with other intriguing matchups on the board as well. Below, we’ll break down the teams as well as the spreads and totals to help you find the top college football bets.
Nebraska vs Northwestern (Dublin)
College Football is officially back this Saturday and its marquee matchup is two Big 10 teams traveling to Dublin, Ireland for a noontime EST kickoff.
Nebraska comes in, coached by Scott Frost, who may or may not be on the hot seat depending on which Nebraska Reddit boards you look at. He was a disappointing 3-9 last season, but some have called them the best three-win team of all time. No, that’s not a joke. They were on the wrong side of every close game they played last season, as all but one of their losses came by a touchdown or less.
We will see a new face at quarterback for the Cornhuskers in former Texas Longhorns starter Casey Thompson. While Thompson may not provide some of the big plays Adrian Martinez (now at Kansas State) made with his feet, he’s a better arm talent.
As for the Wildcats of Northwestern, they’ll be led onto the field by Pat Fitzgerald in his 17th season with the program with a record of 109-90.
The problem for Northwestern has always been on the offensive side of the ball. They were never a high-flying offense but had some consistency a few years ago with Clayton Thorson. The offense hasn’t come close to being as consistent since and that might continue after they lost one of their only consistent pass-catchers in Stephon Robinson to the transfer portal.
The Wildcats will likely need some time to adjust defensively as well after the losses of Chris Bergin at linebacker who led the FBS in tackles per game. Former All-American safety Brandon Joseph is gone as well after transferring to Notre Dame.
Is There a Bet to Be Made?
Currently, Nebraska opened as a 12.5-point favorite at Pinnacle in mid-July. It moved to 11 and it stayed there for a couple of weeks before moving to 13.5 and finally settling at 13.
The total hasn’t moved nearly as much or often, just a half-point change from 50.5 to 50. Neither team will likely be clicking on offense this early in the season. If there’s action to be had, it’s likely on the total.
Northwestern doesn’t put up many points even when it gets to midseason. Even though Nebraska was supposedly the greatest three-win team ever, covering a 13-point spread in another country might be too lofty of an expectation. Will this be one of your top college football bets?
Currently, 65% of the wagers are on Northwestern +13 and 87% of the wagers are on the under.
Wyoming vs Illinois
Wyoming comes in after a 7-6 record a year ago but a dreadful 2-6 record in Mountain West play. They barely defeated Montana State in their opener last year, but Montana State did go on to the championship in the FCS to be fair. They did not play a Power 5 school last year, so going into Champaign is a big ask of a team with so many holes to fill. Wyoming returns just two starters on defense and just three on offense, with one of them being a fullback. They were able to get some quality transfers through the portal, including a pair of corners in Jakorey Hawkins from Ole Miss and Deron Harrell from Wisconsin.
Bret Bielema had the Illini one win away from a bowl game in his first year back in the Big 10 and looks to improve on that in year two. The Illini have a good amount of returning talent at running back, including Chase Brown, who rushed for 1,008 yards last season. They also return Josh McCray, who rushed for 549 yards last season. They didn’t pass all that much, but they do return their leading receiver Isaiah Williams and Casey Washington. They return six starters on defense, including leading tackler Sydney Brown and Tarique Barnes, who finished one tackle short of Brown for the team lead.
The point spread for this game opened at 10½ in favor of the Illini but saw significant line movement Tuesday evening and now sits at 12½. The total sits at a low 44 after opening at 46. It moved from 46 to 45½ pretty fast, but from 45½ down to 44 even faster. 72% of the spread bets are on Illinois with a whopping 99% of the bets on the under. When betting on NCAAF, it’s important to understand line movement.
Connecticut vs Utah State
In the game, everyone has circled on the slate, the Huskies of Connecticut head west to take on Utah State. UConn hired former UCLA head coach Jim Mora as head coach late last season. The hire seemed to work right away, as UConn got a transfer at quarterback in Ta’Quan Roberson from Penn State and a former Oregon transfer in Cale Millen. The two have been battling it out in camp, but Mora has yet to name a starter.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Huskies return Jackson Mitchell, who was 12th in the FBS in tackles last season. Cornerbacks will probably be Connecticut’s biggest weakness early, but it does return a pair of starting safeties in Malik Dixon and Durante Jones.
Utah State comes in returning 13 starters, eight on the offense, and five on the defense. Logan Bonner will look to have his way with the inexperience at the corner for the Huskies after tossing 36 touchdown passes. The Aggies went out and got Bonner a pair of weapons in the form of Maryland transfer Brian Cobbs and Alabama transfer Xavier Williams. They also return five starters on the offensive line. Defensively, they’ll have some holes to fill, but they’ll be able to get solid pressure on the edge from Byron Vaughns, who recorded 10.5 sacks a season ago.
Pinnacle currently has Utah State as a 27½-point favorite over the Huskies after opening at 28. 54% of the ATS wagers are on Utah State. The total is set at 60 after opening at 60½, with 67% of the wagers on the over.
Charlotte vs Florida Atlantic
The Charlotte 49ers are led by Chris Reynolds at quarterback. A fifth-year senior, Reynolds holds the school’s all-time passing record for yards at 7,726 and touchdowns with 62. Starting receivers Victor Tucker and Grant DuBose return, setting up Reynolds for another good season. Tucker is also second all-time in receptions at the school. Don’t be surprised if one or both of these receivers find their way onto an all-conference team at the end of the season.
As for the Owls at Florida Atlantic, N’Kosi Perry comes back for his second season as the full-time starter after flashes of upside at Miami. They’ll have a new, up-tempo offense this season with new offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon. But they’ll need receivers to step up.
The defense isn’t big, but they’re fast. They return five starters on defense. Getting a conference opponent in the first game isn’t ideal, but it should give both teams a measuring stick to where they’re at.
FAU enters as a 7½-point favorite after opening at seven, with the total at 58½ after opening at 57½.
North Texas vs UTEP
North Texas enters with Seth Littrell as head coach going into his seventh season with the program and with a 37-38 record. Last season, the rushing attack was North Texas’ bread and butter, rushing for 233.5 yards per game, leading the conference and finishing fifth nationally. They return almost all of their offensive line except the right tackle. Unfortunately for the Mean Green, they’ll need the position of running back filled with Ikaika Ragsdale ready to step in. At quarterback Austin Aune returns. He turns 29 in September after attempting to play baseball. Think Brandon Weeden but even older. They’ll have a lot to replace on defense but should start better than last season’s 1-6 mark.
As for UTEP, they’re looking for a second-straight winning season. The Miners hope quarterback Gavin Hardison takes another leap in his third year as the starter. They’ll have to replace all of their starting receivers from a year ago, but Hardison and the starters on the offensive line should make the transition a bit easier by giving Hardison and the receivers time. They also have eight starters returning on the defensive side of the ball. The unit was just outside the top 50 in points allowed per game but was 43 in rushing yards allowed per game and 36th in passing yards per game.
Pinnacle has North Texas as a one-point favorite. The total sits at 54½ after opening at 55. It moved to 55 before sharp action Tuesday moved the line down to the current 54½.
Nevada vs New Mexico State
Throw out almost everything you knew about Nevada football. After enjoying the benefits of a quarterback like Carson Strong the last few seasons and having a unit that was sixth in the country in passing yards per game and 17th in points per game, the offense returns just two starters. First-year head coach Ken Wilson will certainly have his hand’s full coaching up this inexperienced offense.
Things look similar on defense. They return two starting corners, but just two players across the rest of the defense. Lucky for them, one of those comes in the form of defensive tackle Dom Peterson. His 22 sacks have him in the top 10 all-time in the Mountain West.
Wilson better is in it for the long hall, because contending for the conference championship doesn’t look like it’s in the cards this year.
Things might start on the right track for the Wolf Pack, however, as New Mexico State projects to be one of the worst teams in college football this year by many of analysts. They return just two starters on an offense that finished last season 25th nationally in passing yards per game. Their leading returning receiver had just 19 catches for 206 yards last season. Jerry Kill has the resume for the job, a 154-101 record over a 20-plus year coaching career, but the change likely won’t be seen right away.
Pinnacle has Nevada as 9½-point favorites after opening at 12½. The total sits at 50½ after opening at 55.
Vanderbilt vs Hawaii
There’s always Hawaii. Anyone that bets on college football has likely uttered or at least heard those words before. If you haven’t, Hawaii home games are famous for their late kickoffs. While this one starts earlier than the typical home game at 10:30, some kickoffs don’t come until past midnight on the East Coast.
Vanderbilt is used to being the bottom dweller of the SEC. They’ve likely come to terms with it since they’ve run the conference in baseball over the last decade. However, the start of the schedule this year is kind to Vandy. They could win this game and even start 2-2 before conference play begins. Vandy knows what it’s in for when they move to conference play, so this is one of the better chances on the entire schedule to fetch a win.
We all remember the insane Hawaii season from Colt Brennan, but it was Tommy Chang who did it first. At Hawaii, he broke the then NCAA passing yards record. Now he returns as the head coach. Unfortunately for him, starting quarterback Chevan Cordeiro transferred to San Jose State. The Rainbow Warriors return three starters on the offensive line and a tight end, but no starting receivers.
REMEMBER: In its last 12 FBS openers, Hawaii is 11-1 ATS and is among the top college football betting trends in Week 0. Pinnacle has Vanderbilt as 7½ -point favorites after opening at 6½. The total sits at 54½ after opening at 55.Follow us on Twitter