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College football Week 0 picks, predictions against the spread

We love college football, and we love gambling. Here’s our staff’s favorite plays on the board this week.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

College football isn’t just one of the best sports to watch on a Saturday afternoon, it’s also one of the best to find ways to make plenty of cash as a sharp sports bettor. Each week we’ll find the best value for NCAA football games against the spread, total, and on the moneyline so you can make plenty of cash. No touts, no fees, and just the best numbers we can find.

Here are our best picks on the board to get all the dollars in Week 0 of FBS football. All lines are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook:

Collin Sherwin: 2022 Record 0-0

Nebraska vs. Northwestern Under 50.5 (-110)

Glad this crept back up to the number I had it earlier! What if we could take two likely-below-par offenses with plenty of new players, and have them show the game to the world after a long flight and way too many team activities? What if the practice time abroad is limited too and hard to get comfortable too? Is that how you’d like to see your new offenses on another continent?

Casey Thompson will make Nebraska a smidge better, but Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald is bringing cro-magnon football without a lot of talent to the Emerald Isle. We’ll be rooting for his legendary punts on 4th down and millimeters instead of inches this week, and lots of clock-killing drives that go nowhere.

Vanderbilt -8.5 (-110) vs. Hawai’i

It brings us no joy to say this, but America’s Team If You’re Stuck Saturday Night, the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors, might be an abomination this year. New head coach and ‘Bows legend Timmy Chang has to pick up the pieces of Todd Graham Being Todd Graham, and he got a late start thanks to area politicians and some huge financial challenges in Honolulu.

There’s 131 FBS teams. Hawai’i is 130th in returning players, and 123rd in talent. Until that stadium gets built in 2026 (hopefully!), Aloha might mean goodbye to many covers.

We’ve also heard that Vanderbilt is on the verge of becoming an SEC team! Congrats to them, it’s a shame that Great Depression rivalry with Tulane didn’t stick around. Also never forget Tulane still has more SEC football championships than Kentucky, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Missouri, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt combined, and they left the league in 1966.

Vanderbilt vs. Hawai’i Under 53 (-110)

We got this at 54 for LifeBucks instead of WriterBucks, but we might play it down to 50 honestly. Clark Lea and Timmy Chang are both new head coaches at their alma mater, and they’re attempting to implement what they want to do with personnel that likely doesn’t fit the long-term vision of their programs.

Vandy at least returns six starters on both sides of the ball, but some jet lag and a lack of necessity should be enough to shut it down early. And while we’re expecting Chang to get it sorted out by the time they play in the new stadium, that somewhere over the rainbow is really far away as of now.

Nick Simon: 2022 Record 0-0

Nebraska -13 (-110) vs. Northwestern

I’ll go with Nebraska covering as a near two-touchdown favorite against Northwestern in Ireland. The Cornhuskers outrank the Wildcats by 45 spots in Bill Connelly’s preseason SP+ rankings and arguably made an upgrade at quarterback when bringing in Texas transfer Casey Thompson. Plus, it’s a Pat Fitzgerald Northwestern team, so the concept of offense will still be lost on their side. Lay it with Nebraska.

New Mexico State moneyline (+275) vs. Nevada

NMSU enters the season dead last in SP+, but there’s a good case for them “upsetting” Nevada in Week 0. The Wolf Pack are hitting the reset button this year after head coach Jay Norvell departed for conference rival Colorado State and both Carson Strong and Romeo Doubs left for the NFL. Meanwhile, the Aggies return more production from last season and are primed to open the season with a home victory.

Charlotte +7 (-110) vs. FAU

These are two Conference USA programs that are in similar spots heading into a new season and need to get the momentum swinging in the right direction. FAU has a super senior quarterback in N’Kosi Perry leading the way but Charlotte also has a fifth-year senior of its own under center in Chris Reynolds. This should be a tight ballgame and I’ll go with the 49ers to cover.

Teddy Ricketson: 2022 Record 0-0

Nevada -9 (-110) vs. New Mexico State

Can Nate Cox or Shane Illingworth be the next NFL-ready quarterback to play at Nevada following Carson Strong and Colin Kaepernick? Well, in Week 0, it shouldn’t matter because New Mexico State will be bad. Very bad. They rank dead last in SP+ rankings with the 129th ranked offense and 126th ranked defense. Their returning talent isn’t likely to be strong enough to keep them in this game through four quarters. Wolfpack should cover.

Charlotte Moneyline (+235) vs. Florida Atlantic

Call me a homer all you want, but this 49ers team has been on the up-and-up. They rank 19th in returning production, which is largely due to redshirt senior Chris Reynolds being back under center. The local product heads into his fifth season, and his leading receiver Grant DuBose is back alongside him. Risking it for the biscuit early, but I think Charlotte leaves Week 0, 1-0.

Vanderbilt -8.5 (-110) vs. Hawai’i

Listen, I am about as critical of Vandy as they come, but they should be able to handle the Rainbow Warriors on the road. Head Coach Clark Lea praised Vanderbilt, saying he would turn the program around and take them to the top of the SEC. This is a lofty goal for a team that hasn’t won a conference game in back-to-back seasons. It starts Week 0 against a Hawai’i team ranked in the bottom 11 in SP+ rankings and dead last in returning talent.

Chinmay Vaidya: 2022 Record 0-0

Northwestern +13 (-110) vs. Nebraska

I’ve seen Pat Fitzgerald consistently give bigger programs a hard time for more than 15 years now. That doesn’t stop today against a Nebraska program on the brink of irrelevance. Scott Frost’s team should be better in the standings after poor luck in close games last season but they’re in for a fight today. The Wildcats tend to punch well above their weight in these types of games, and Nebraska hasn’t shown any ability in the Frost era to dominate teams. Take Northwestern against the number in the opener.

Florida Atlantic ML (-260) vs. Charlotte

The home team tends to win out in these situations, and both programs need a big season in 2022. Will Healy will look to remain one of the rising coaches in the business, while Willie Taggart needs to get a bowl appearance to show he’s got FAU heading in the right direction. I’m backing the Owls to get the job done in what should be one of the more underrated contests of Week 0.

Hawai’i +9 (-110) vs. Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt might be the superior team on paper but it is near the bottom of the SEC consistently for a reason. The Commodores get a Hawai’i team that tends to put up points in bunches, especially at home. It’s the first game of the Timmy Chang era and the Rainbow Warriors will come out firing for their alum. Take Hawai’i to cover the spread and potentially even win outright in Week 0.

Grace McDermott: 2022 Record 0-0

Nebraska vs. Northwestern Under 50.5 (-110)

It’s going to be a Big Ten classic. I can feel it in my bones — punts and field goals galore. I’m not totally sure what to expect out of each of these teams with their roster turnovers this year aside from continued mediocrity, which I can’t wait to watch today. Realistically, I don’t see either team putting up more than 20 points in Dublin, so I’m taking the under on this one.

Vanderbilt -8.5 (-110) vs. Hawai’i

Vanderbilt has it tough, but head coach Clark Lea has had a few years now to settle in and get his own recruits, and his eternal optimism is an inspiration to us all. The travel to Hawai’i is the only bump in this bet, but hopefully the Commodores have had a relaxing week at the beaches and are ready to show the west coast what the name SEC means. This will probably be one of about three wins for Vandy this season, but I do think that they cover today.

New Mexico State moneyline (+275) vs. Nevada

2022 is a rebuild year for Nevada with the loss of QB Carson Strong and head coach Jay Norvell, and they may struggle to find their footing in this away opener with such change. Meanwhile, the Aggies may have gotten just the fire under them that they needed after getting rid of 25-74 head coach Doug Martin. If they can get out of that years-long slump with some new faces and energy around the coaching staff, their roster of returning defensive starters could power them to a Week 0 win against the Wolf Pack.

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