What games appear to be the best bets and the best picks against the spread going into Week 0 of the college football season?
Week 0 Fearless Predictions, Game Previews
– Week 0 & 1 Schedule, Times, Lines, Previews
– CFN Fearless Predictions & Game Previews
– Week 0 Expert Picks & Predictions: College
– Week 1 Expert Picks & Predictions: NFL
Results So Far ATS: 0-0
Before getting started with the Week 0 best picks against the spread, there are a few point total picks thrown in there with just five game played this weekend.
Also, as a heads up, I don’t really like any of these all that much – I like what’s coming on the 10 Best Week 1 version that’s coming next week a whole lot more.
Whatever … these five picks are right.
Click on each game for preview
LINE: Nebraska -7
ATS PICK: Illinois
Is Illinois playing at home? Yes.
Could Illinois win this game outright in Game One of the Bret Bielema era? Yes.
Has Nebraska done anything over the last four seasons to make you think something magical is coming. Not really.
Nebraska is the better team, though.
It might not have a slew of sure-thing superstar playmakers – and that still includes QB Adrian Martinez, for now – but it should be able to run the ball a bit, and the defensive front seven should take over against a mediocre group of Illinois skill parts.
However, this is strictly a believe-it-when-I-see-it play taking Illinois at home with the points.
The Illini beat the Huskers 41-23 last year in Lincoln, lost by four in 2019, and got walloped in 2018 and 2017. Even with just one win in the series since 2015, this is still more up in the air than it might appear.
Illinois has veterans in the offensive backfield, a solid linebacking corps, and … yeah, if this goes one way big, it’ll be the Big Red going off and rolling. However, the Huskers have just two wins by more than seven points in their last 17 games.
NEXT: No. 4 Pick Against The Spread: UConn at Fresno State
4. UConn at Fresno State point total
ATS PICK: UNDER
This will be a Bulldog blowout, but that total is too big.
There are two problems here and they both work against UConn in this hate-pick – I despise going off of numbers from two years ago, but …
1) The program opted out and hasn’t played a game since late November of 2019. 2) It had to replace a whole lot of guys and will hardly be a cohesive offensive machine.
UConn was miserable in its 2-10 season – only beating Wagner from the FCS world along with a more-miserable UMass team. On the year, only four of the 12 UConn games went over on the 63.
The Huskies didn’t score on a consistent basis then, they didn’t score on a consistent basis in 2018, and they’re not going to light it up this year, either. They only managed more than 22 points 14 times in their last 46 games.
On the other side, the Fresno State defense will be better after a rocky 2020. Even with the bad D and high-powered O, only two of its six games went over 63.
NEXT: No. 3 Pick Against The Spread: UTEP at New Mexico State
LINE: UTEP -10
ATS PICK: UTEP
Ugggggggh. Really, I’m taking UTEP and giving away double-digits?
Really?! This is through gritted teeth, but it’s the right call even though New Mexico State is at home, it played a few games this spring, and UTEP has lost three straight in the series.
The Miners, though, should be able to run.
They’re not going to steamroll through anyone, but they have the parts to at least push for over 200 yards against a soft Aggie run defense that got cranked up by Tarleton State and Dixie State. Nothing against the Texans and Trailblazers, respectively, but if they could roll at will offensively against New Mexico State …
Okay, so UTEP hasn’t beaten anyone by more than ten points since the end of the 2016 season, but if this is going to be any sort of a decent season for the program, it has to take this game down with ease.
By the way, the last UTEP road win by more than ten points was …
UTEP 42, New Mexico State 21 in early 2013.
NEXT: No. 2 Pick Against The Spread: Hawaii at UCLA, Part 1
LINE: UCLA -17.5
ATS PICK: UCLA
To continue with the hate-pick theme of Week 0 …
UCLA has yet to win a non-conference game in the Chip Kelly era. Worse yet, it’s 0-2 against the Mountain West.
Okay, but to be very, very fair, those six non-conference losses all came to teams that won ten games or more, two were to Cincinnati, and two were to Oklahoma. The combined final records of those six teams? 68-14.
Let’s just say the program has been building to this point.
Kelly needed to do a teardown after years of Bruin mediocrity, and it hasn’t been pretty with three straight losing seasons and a 10-21 record.
But now he appears to have the parts in place. The Bruins have the lines, they have the defense – despite a few meltdowns last year – and they have the experience on offense to finally get this thing going.
So what that the program hasn’t beaten a team by more than 17.5 since the middle of 2018?
This is a bit more about Hawaii.
It’s going to be active, it has the ability to get physical, and …
It still might be a bit flaky on the road.
It came up big in the New Mexico Bowl win over Houston, and it started last year with a stunning performance at Fresno State, but it clunked at Wyoming and got rolled by 24 at San Diego State.
This won’t be a blowout, but UCLA should be a bit more explosive and the D should hang on to save the spread late. It’s likely going to be a defensive battle, so …
NEXT: No. 1 Pick Against The Spread: Hawaii at UCLA, Part 2
1. Hawaii at UCLA point total
ATS PICK: UNDER
When you think of Hawaii, you think of the old run-and-shoot, the high-powered passing games, and fun, fun, FUN!
That’s not really Hawaii under head coach Todd Graham.
Winning is fun – going 5-4 in 2020 with a bowl victory – but the Rainbow Warriors are more about grinding things out now and trying to win with a more aggressive defense.
They got into firefights with Boise State and New Mexico, but those were the only two times Hawaii games went over 68.5.
Again – as pointed out in Part 1 of the Hawaii at UCLA stuff – UCLA has yet to win a non-conference game under Chip Kelly, but you don’t care about that here. You just care about whether or not the Bruins can score.
0-6 so far under Kelly against non-Pac-12 teams, UCLA only scored 14 points in four of those six games and never scored more than 21.
The Bruins will score more than 21 in this, but the game is far more likely to be a bit of a defensive battle instead of a back-and-forth show. At least one side – likely Hawaii – should struggle a bit to crank up the points.
UCLA is more likely to allow fewer than 20 points in this than over.