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Stats & Picks for College Football Week 0

College football begins on Saturday with 11 games in what is pegged as Week 0. Here are stats to consider before placing your wagers.

Figuring out what will happen in Week 0 of the 2022 college football season is a little better than a dart-throw. There is no preseason to base anything on. The transfer portal, meanwhile, is spinning like a tornado, with players ending up anywhere and everywhere but where they were in 2021.

And not to be forgotten, the coaching portal is whirling almost as furious. There were 29 coaching changes between the 2021 and 2022 seasons. That’s the most since that same number of schools changed coaches after the 2015 season.

So, in Week 0 it’s helpful to let discretion be the better part of betting valor. Pictures will come into focus more after this week and next. But even so, value and opportunity exist for the Saturday games.

Here are a few spots to pick as the curtain opens on the 2022 season.

Northwestern or Nebraska Want Luck of Irish

What did Ireland do to deserve this? What are we doing from a diplomatic standpoint sending two teams that each went 3-9 last year across the pond? And how are we going with the Northwestern Wildcats that was spanked 56-7 by the Nebraska Cornhuskers last year?

Simple. Northwestern, who is +13 for this game, is better coached, has a better offensive line with All-American tackle Peter Skoronski, and has a standout defensive trio in Bryce Gallagher (89 tackles), Adetomiwa Adebawore (4.5 sacks) and A.J. Hampton (12 deflections). This is balanced by the fact no current Wildcats defenders had an interception last year. Offensively, Northwestern should improve on its 125th scoring offensive ranking from last year.

Nebraska, meanwhile, is not the grain-threshing, yard-chewing juggernaut of yore. The Cornhuskers’ returning leading rusher is Rahmir Johnson, who didn’t crack 500 yards and scored but four touchdowns last season.

They lose quarterback Adrian Martinez to Kansas State, trading him for Texas’ Casey Thompson, who led the Big 12 in touchdowns last year. Mark Whipple joins beleaguered coach Scott Frost as the offensive coordinator.

Nebraska likely has enough offensive weapons to win this game. But how does a 3-9 team warrant laying 13 points to another 3-9 team? Especially the way Frost has underachieved? Plus, can you really bet against a Northwestern team coached by Pat FITZGERALD in Ireland?

Pick: Northwestern +13 (-110 at BetMGM)   

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Expect Wyoming, Illinois to Score Little

This is a total that requires you to swallow hard, since many teams score 44 points in today’s game by halftime. But we’re talking about the Wyoming Cowboys and Illinois Fighting Illini, two teams that have a hard time getting out of their own way offensively.

Last year, Illinois ranked 116th out of 130 FBS teams in offense. The Illini averaged 20.2 points a game en route to that 5-7 record. Syracuse Orange transfer Tommy DeVito arrives to helm the offense, which centers around not Devito’s arm, but running back Chase Brown’s legs. Brown ran for 1,005 yards and five touchdowns last year and expect Illinois second-year coach Bret Bielema to ask again what Brown can do for the Illini this year.

Wyoming, meanwhile, welcomes back its own feature back in Titus Swen, who matched Brown’s 5.9-yard average, while scoring seven touchdowns. With his running mate Xazavian Valladay transferring to Arizona State, Swen should easily eclipse his 785 yards from 2021.

Along with two running teams chewing clock, Wyoming sports one of the most underrated defenses in the country. The Cowboys held seven opponents to two touchdowns or fewer in 2021 and have finished in the top third of the country in points allowed each of the last five years.

Pick: Wyoming-Illinois Under 44 (-110 at BetRivers)

Vanderbilt Hopes Aloha Means Victory

Yes, weird things happen when teams venture from the mainland to Hawaii. Teams get to the islands and leave their games at home. The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are 6-1 ATS in their last seven August games and 3-1-1 in their last five home games. They host the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday.

Then again, strange things have been happening to Hawaii. Former coach Todd Graham presided over a Superfund of a program that was investigated by everyone but Steve McGarrett, Danno Williams and the rest of the Hawaii Five-O gang for mistreatment of players. Things got so bad that Graham’s own son Michael entered the transfer portal as the Hawaii state senate investigated matters.

The upshot of all this? Former Rainbow Warriors quarterback star Timmy Chang took over a program starting from ground zero. He inherits four starters on offense and only two of the top 10 tacklers on defense.

Meanwhile, Vanderbilt may be the red-headed stepchild in the SEC; the Commodores haven’t won a conference game since 2019, but they do return 14 starters—including five of their last six tacklers.

Vanderbilt is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 road games and 4-0 ATS in its last four. Even being the SEC’s doormat and flying 4,000 miles shouldn’t stop the Commodores from bringing their game here and saying “Book ‘em.”

Pick: Vanderbilt -6.5 over Hawai’i (-110)

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