The smell of fall is in the air - unless you live in Texas, which still feels oppressively hot. We finally arrive at the beginning of college football season with the annual offering of Zero Week games. They may not be the flashiest games but we don’t care about that, do we? Our long offseason nightmare ends and I return to offer shaky gambling advice thanks to our friends at DraftKings. Using their odds* I sail off into the 2023 season hoping to avoid a repeat of the disastrous 2022 campaign where I went 41-56.
Navy vs. Notre Dame Under 50.5 (Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland)
Notre Dame elicits an overreaction every year after their first contest. I’m not expecting 2023 to be any different. Navy, by nature of their style of play and the fact that this contest takes place across the pond, keeps this contest closer than expected.
I’m not sure they keep it close enough to cover but the score will stay low. I’m hammering the under. Last year’s Dublin matchup between Nebraska and Northwestern descended into chaos. This one should be a little bit tamer.
UTEP -1 at Jacksonville State
Jacksonville State and Rich Rodriguez make their FBS debut with a conference matchup against UTEP. Unfortunately for JSU, I think the Miners will be a team to beat in the new-look CUSA. I’m taking UTEP -1 here but color me intrigued about what Jacksonville State brings to the table for the rest of the season.
UMass at New Mexico State Under 45
New Mexico State gave us one of the best stories of 2022 with new coach Jerry Kill leading the Aggies to a bowl win. New Mexico State will look to build on that performance starting against UMass in Las Cruces. I’m expecting this one to be a very low-scoring contest with NMSU taking the win.
Ohio +2.5 at San Diego State
Ohio QB Kurtis Rourke became one of the most exciting players in college football last year before an injury cut his season short. With Rourke back in 2023 and apparently ahead of schedule on recovery, I’m expecting the Bobcats to be one of the best teams in the MAC.
While San Diego State tends to be one of the better teams in the Mountain West, I’m not as high on the Aztecs in 2023. I think Ohio covers. In fact, I may sprinkle a bit on the Bobcats outright.
Hawaii at Vanderbilt -17.5
I want Hawaii to do well given all that the program and the state have been through recently but unfortunately, I think building this program back up after the Todd Graham experiment may take several years. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt seems to be trending upward after 2022.
The Commodores beat Hawaii 63-10 in Honolulu last year. This time, the Rainbow Warriors make the trip to the mainland to take on Vanderbilt. Clark Lea’s squad closed out their season with wins in two of their last three and I think they might surprise some folks in the SEC in 2023. That starts with covering the -17.5 line against Hawaii.
San Jose State at USC Over 65.5
We all know the Lincoln Riley M.O. at this point. The Trojans will put up a ton of points but the defense probably gives up a few themselves. What does this mean? I’m hammering overs in most USC matchups.
Against San Jose State, I expect returning Heisman winner Caleb Williams to put up big numbers early before getting out of the contest. I don’t expect the Spartans to be completely shut out but don’t be surprised if the Trojans manage to hit that 65.5 point over on their own.
FIU at Louisiana Tech -11
FIU’s 2022 season was a struggle but one of the bright spots of their year happened when the Panthers hosted Louisiana Tech. Florida International came out on top in the double overtime thriller in Miami.
I’m expecting the Bulldogs to be out for blood after their disappointing 2022 campaign. Look for Louisiana Tech to jump on FIU early and often. The -11 line may seem like a lot given how the contest went last year but I really expect the Bulldogs to step up this season.
Make sure to let me know what you think of the picks in the comments, hopefully, this season goes better than the last!
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See http://draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.