The football offseason is long but we have survived, mostly intact, unless we are talking about the Big 12. Week Zero of the new college football season is more or less a soft opening for the season, as the action really gets underway next weekend.
I don’t know if last year’s COVID experience is influencing interest or not, but with real games to bet on, there is some excitement in the air even though no ranked teams are in action in this weekend’s FBS slate.
The lines are real though so let’s see if we can pick off a winner or two.
Odds are via FanDuel Sportsbook as of Saturday, August 28 at 7:30 a.m. ET.
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Illinois Fighting Illini, FOX, 1:00 p.m. ET
Nebraska vs Illinois College Football Betting Odds
- Spread: Nebraska -6.5 (-122), Illinois +6.5 (+100)
- Total: OVER 53.5 (-110), UNDER 53.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Nebraska -265, Illinois +210
For better or worse, each program starts the season with a Big Ten conference game. Illinois beat the Huskers last year, one of just two wins in the shortened season, which ultimately led to a new coach in Bret Bielema. The new coach has breathed some fresh air into the program, and that is in stark contrast to what is happening at Nebraska, where coach Scott Frost has gone from hopeful program savior to the hot seat. All it has taken is a bunch of losses and some scandal. The heat is going to get really turned up if Nebraska loses its first game, even though it is on the road.
I am expecting a close game. Illinois was strong running the ball last season, and that is what Bielema wants to emphasize, so the transition could be smooth. Nebraska’s strength is likely going to be its defense, so this one looks like a low-scoring affair where the home underdog could win it late.
Nebraska vs Illinois Best Bet: Illinois +7
UConn Huskies vs Fresno State Bulldogs, CBS Sports Network, 2:00 p.m. ET
UConn vs Fresno State College Football Betting Odds
- Spread: UConn +27.5 (-110), Fresno State -27.5 (-110)
- Total: OVER 62.5 (-110), UNDER 62.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: UConn +1600, Fresno State -6000
The Huskies were one of a few teams that didn’t play at all last season. That doesn’t change the fact that since coach Randy Edsall returned to Storrs, the results have not been anywhere close to his first run at UConn. Fresno State is a good team and a true contender in the Mountain West.
The Bulldogs are a really good offensive team and should have little trouble scoring against the Huskies. They should make quick work of and have this game wrapped up by halftime. Fresno State’s team total of 44.5 is definitely worth a look in this one.
UConn vs Fresno State Best Bet: Fresno State -27.5
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs UCLA Bruins, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Hawaii vs UCLA College Football Betting Odds
- Spread: Hawaii +17.5 (-114), UCLA -17.5 (-106)
- Total: OVER 67.5 (-108), UNDER 67.5 (-112)
- Moneyline: Hawaii +680, UCLA -1200
When Chip Kelly arrived at UCLA they were looking for a turnaround. It has not been quick, but there is every expectation that this will be his best team in Westwood. That is relative, but they have experience at QB in senior Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and the roster is more talented than when he got there.
Expectations are not very high at Hawaii, but they can be pesky. They are usually pretty physical and can put points on the board, so they can be tough to put away. They will definitely be more focused on this game than UCLA, who has a big tilt with LSU on deck.
The line on this one has been pretty steady. There is speculation that UCLA might keep it vanilla so as not to give LSU any clues. I think they can still win with ease in what should be a solid tune-up for the Bruins.
Hawaii vs UCLA Best Bet: UCLA -17.5
UTEP Miners vs New Mexico State Aggies, 9:30 p.m. ET
UTEP vs New Mexico State College Football Betting Odds
- Spread: UTEP -9.5 (-124), New Mexico State +9.5 (+102)
- Total: OVER 58.5 (-115), UNDER 58.5 (-105)
- Moneyline: UTEP -420, New Mexico State +310
Be careful with this one. These are two bad teams, and in a normal week it would probably not even be on your radar. The Aggies did not play last season but did play a couple of games against FCS opponents in the spring. They are one of the worst FBS programs in the country, and the same can be said of UTEP, who has not had a winning season since 2014. They are not expected to push the better teams in Conference USA this season.
It is very hard to believe that the Miners are 10 points better than anyone, especially on the road. You can take a pass for sure because bad teams more often than not break your heart, but this line feels off.
UTEP vs New Mexico State Best Bet: New Mexico State +9.5
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