The big schools may not get going until Labor Day Weekend, but there are plenty of intriguing lines for bettors to consider on the Week 0 NCAAF slate. We offer up the top five early bets to make for college football’s Week 0.
For many years, Labor Day Weekend marked the official start of college football. Thanks to the advent of “Week 0”, that is no longer the case. The light appetizer slate of games is back again this year to wet the whistles of many football-starved bettors prior to the season’s true Week 1 kickoff.
On Saturday, Aug. 27, there are 11 total games that will feature at least one FBS school as part of the Week 0 action. Eleven games may not feel like much compared to a typical college football Saturday, but it does provide an NFL-sized slate of options for bettors to choose from. While there is still nearly a month to go before these games actually take place, getting ahead of the public on the early betting lines is never a bad idea.
Here are my early college football best bets for Week 0 based on the odds from our top-rated sportsbooks (pick confidence based on a 1-to-5 star scale).
Early Week 0 College Football Best Bets
- Nevada-New Mexico State Under 55.5 (-110 via BetMGM) ★★★
- UConn +28 (-110 via DraftKings Sportsbook) vs. Utah State ★★
- UTEP moneyline (+100 via DraftKings) vs. North Texas ★★★
- Vanderbilt -6.5 (-110 via FanDuel Sportsbook) vs. Hawaii ★★★★
- Wyoming-Illinois Under 44.5 (-110 via DraftKings) ★
Check out the latest comprehensive and most trusted Sportsbook Reviews by SBR.
Week 0 College Football Picks to Make Now
Nevada-New Mexico State Under 55.5 (-110)
This line has already moved down as much as one full point at several books across the market. To say that Nevada’s offense will look different in 2022 would be an understatement. Quarterback Carson Strong and top receiver Romeo Doubs are both in NFL training camps. In total, the Wolf Pack have only two returning offensive starters.
Much like Nevada, New Mexico State also must replace a lot of production from an offense that wasn’t particularly potent, to begin with. The Aggies lost their starting quarterback, lead running back, and top three wideouts in the offseason. New NMSU head coach Jerry Kill will also be implementing a new system.
Despite neither team boasting a great defense, the turnover on both rosters is likely to lead to some sloppy offensive play early in the season.
UConn +28 (-110)
While Logan Bonner is back at quarterback to lead the Utah State offense, he will be without each of his top three wideouts from a season ago. On defense, the Aggies will also have to overcome some key defensive departures after losing four of their top five tacklers from last year’s squad.
As for UConn, it will be another long, losing season on the gridiron. That said, the hiring of Jim Mora will most certainly breathe life into what has been a dormant Huskies program. The defense lost NFL draftee Travis Jones and is switching to a 3-4 scheme which raises some doubts for this season opener. Offensively, however, UConn has a talented young QB in Tyler Phommachanh and a well-coached offensive line.
In addition to so much production being lost, the lack of blowout wins that Utah State achieved a year ago is worth noting. Teams like North Dakota, UNLV, New Mexico State, and New Mexico were all vastly inferior to the Aggies in terms of talent. Yet, Utah State only defeated those programs by 24, 4, 22, and 25 points, respectively.
UTEP moneyline (+100)
Although UTEP football has hardly been a juggernaut in recent years, the program is clearly trending in the right direction. An experienced roster achieved the school’s first bowl appearance since 2014. The Miners are even more experienced in 2022, particularly in the trenches.
UTEP may have only won a total of two games in the first two years under head coach Dana Dimel, but it takes time to build a winning roster the right way. With the best defensive line in C-USA and a solid offensive front, the Miners are both talented and experienced where it matters most.
North Texas was ravaged by injuries a season ago and also has a lot of production returning. However, home field has to be worth something to UTEP in this early conference matchup. Oddsmakers initially opened the Mean Green at -2.5 which indicates that line movement has already swung in the Miners’ favor.
Vanderbilt -6.5 (-110)
After being forced to miss a number of games in the middle of last season due to injury, Vanderbilt QB Ken Seals came nowhere close to replicating the promise he showed in 2020 as a true freshman. The benefit of Seals missing time was that Mike Wright also picked up experience as a starter last season which gives second-year head coach Clark Lea options. Vanderbilt also welcomes back each of its top four tacklers on defense from a year ago.
While the Commodores have experience returning, Hawaii is shaping up to be one of the greenest teams in all of college football this season. That sentiment starts right at the top of the program where new head coach Timmy Chang is set to take over. He has only four starters returning on offense and also must replace 10 of the top 12 tacklers from a year ago.
With a new coaching staff and so much inexperience on both sides of the ball, one could do much worse than fade the Rainbow Warriors out of the gates in Week 0. The fact that Vanderbilt is laying a full seven points at most sportsbooks makes FanDuel’s line of -6.5 ideal as far as value is concerned.
Wyoming-Illinois Under 44.5 (-110)
The total has dropped two full points across the betting market for this Mountain West-Big Ten matchup. The line move contradicts the fact that the majority of bets have come in on the Over. Thus, by aligning themselves with the Under, bettors will be taking the sharper side in a game that has a chance to be a real defensive slugfest.
With defense clearly being the strength of both teams from both a personnel and coaching standpoint, even the adjusted line of 44.5 might not be low enough. Illinois welcomes back five of its top seven tacklers from last year’s defense and the Fighting Illini will once again be a run-first team offensively. The same can be said for their Week 0 counterpart.
Wyoming must replace both of last year’s QBs, a 1,000-yard rusher, and its top two wideouts. While the Cowboys always seem to find a way to run the ball, the loss of three starting offensive linemen coupled with a tough Illinois defense could make even that difficult in Week 0.
Where to Bet on College Football Week 0 Picks
Here are our top-rated sportsbooks: